Utah businessman shocked to see his heated pants featured at Olympics
SNOWBIRD — Living so close to the mountains is something many people take for granted.
“I’m skiing, I’m in the moment, nothing else matters,” said Henry Deutsch, as he jockeyed for space on the tram up the mountain. “I don’t have to worry about anything else but that moment.”
Deutsch is a lifelong businessman. Born in the Midwest, he spent most of his life trying to get here.
“I went and did apparel for The North Face, and then I came out here and worked for Ogio,” he said. “So I’ve been around the outdoor industry.”
That was 11 years ago. Deutsch jumped at the opportunity to move to the Wasatch Front, knowing how often he’d be able to put on his skis. But as the years passed, he wanted the same freedom in his life that he felt up on the slopes.
“You’re getting tired of making money for everybody else, and there’s nothing for you at the end of the day,” he said.
Part of his freedom means being his own boss. Deutsch makes it up the mountain several times a week, but the rest of his free time is spent thinking about the warehouse down in the valley, where his products seem to constantly be rolling down a conveyor belt.
“We make the heated jackets like I have on,” he said, proudly patting the fabric on his chest. “The inside of the jacket has carbon wiring.”
Deutsch is a co-founder of a company called “Ravean,” which makes a variety of heated apparel. While the concept is nothing new, he said the difference is how fast the technology’s advanced.
“Battery technology is changing rapidly,” he said. “I would say two versions a year are coming out, and changing the way that batteries are constructed.”
But getting your name out there can be nearly impossible — especially in a market as crowded as winter apparel. Deutsch turned to Kickstarter for a boost, and struck gold.
“I got approached by the U.S. Ski Team and Snowboard High Performance Director,” he said.
The team worked with Deutsch on designing heated pants to take to South Korea, to help the athletes keep their muscles warm.
“By the time the athletes get ready to race and by the time they go out the gate, it can be anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour, if there’s a problem,” he said.
But companies pay millions for Olympic sponsorships, and the team was simply purchasing Ravean’s pants — meaning the company’s involvement was a secret, and the athletes had to keep their lips sealed.
“They could not talk about it at the Olympics,” Deutsch said. “They were not allowed to talk about it.”
Deutsch resigned himself to simply being pleased with making a sale and being a small part of the team. Then he got a message from a friend, kicking off one of the best days of his life.
“He said, ‘Did you see Lindsey Vonn?'” Deutsch said. “‘Your brand name was all over this video!'”
Deutsch watched in disbelief — there was Vonn wearing his pants, warming up in front of the world.
“Went to my wife, and I said ‘I did that!'” he said. “‘I did that! That was me, I did that!'”
While the company’s logo may have been small, people noticed.
“The website started to blow up,” Deutsch said. “Yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
While you’ll still find him up in the mountains several times a week, his business is heating up — and even this tiny bit of publicity at the Olympics is something he’ll never take for granted.
“I don’t think that we could’ve paid everyone enough money for what’s happened,” Deutsch said. “We’ve been very blessed.”