Austin Britts has been visiting Bend since he was 10 when his family started coming up from California for ski races at Mt. Bachelor. But when the CEO and co-founder of Zealios, a personal products company for athletes, was considering moving here last year, he wondered whether the ski town of his childhood would also be a good fit for his company.
The answer was a resounding yes. Britts connected with the Oregon Outdoor Alliance, Bend Outdoor Worx and some local outdoor companies. “The rest is history,” he said. “We were absolutely stunned by the cohesion and support of the Bend business community.”
Britts and his co-founder, Kevin Fuller, started Zealios in 2009. They wanted to make a better waterproof, sweat-proof, zinc-based sunscreen. “We’ve always placed performance as our key objective,” said Britts. “While the industry is trending toward natural and organic ingredients, we have [also] steered toward formulations that perform the best. For instance, what good is an all-natural sunscreen that comes off in the water or when you start to sweat?”
The company has found a natural market among endurance athletes, and especially triathletes, who find themselves in the sun and in the pool on a regular basis. Britts and Fuller appreciate these athletes’ passion. “Having played rugby at the highest level in the USA, I think Kevin and I identify with their competitive spirit,” he said.
This past year, Zealios product sales have taken off. “We are working hard to cement ourselves within the endurance culture and want to be a household name within the community,” said Britts. “We have a long way to go, but given our recent growth the future sure feels bright.” — Kelly Kearsley