“American Outdoor Products has always been a forward-looking company, concerned not only about our generation but for the wellbeing of future generations. We have been in business for 70 years and hope to be around in another 70, therefore, we are investing in a sustainable future by offsetting our energy emissions through our new solar array. As an outdoor recreation and food company, we depend on a healthy planet and we recognize that it was time to become a 100% solar-powered facility. Sunflower Bank understood our vision and partnered with us to ensure we could finance this project that improves our operations and our environment.”
President of American Outdoor Products
A Family Business with a Commitment to the Planet
American Outdoor Products (AOP) is a family owned and operated freeze-dried food manufacturer, proudly based out of Boulder, Colorado since 1992. From its start as a backpacking food company, and with a father and son leadership team, the company has expanded to include the Backpacker’s Pantry, Astronaut Foods, Colorado Spice Blending Co., and Chef Soraya brands.
AOP has been owned by the Smith family since 1971, when Ronald Smith purchased one of the first backpacking food brands in the country. Over the years, the Smiths moved the company from California to Boulder, and Ron’s son, Rodney, became president. As president, Rodney’s deep commitment to environmental sustainability and high-quality ingredients was always the cornerstone of his business philosophy.
On January 1, 2020, the Smith family and the American Outdoor Products family lost Rodney Smith in a catastrophic skiing accident. Among Rodney’s most heartfelt passions were sustainability and environmental causes. These passions motivated him to begin researching and planning a major roof renovation and new solar installation for the company building located in Boulder, which is the manufacturing facility for all of AOP’s products. With Rodney’s passing, this project could have gotten lost in the shuffle.
An Unwavering Business Partner
Though devastated by the sudden loss of his son, Ronald returned to help guide the company and family onward and upward. One of his first actions was appointing Soraya Smith – Rodney’s wife of 27 years, and recipe development chef for Backpacker’s Pantry – as president of American Outdoor Products.
With an eye towards the future of our planet and the impact that each individual leaves, as well as keeping Rodney’s vision alive, the decision was made to continue with the roof renovation project’s momentum. AOP had a relationship with Sunflower Bank since 2015. They also worked with other banks, and the Smith family wanted to be sure that AOP selected the best financial partner to help carry out Rodney’s plans.
In July 2020, AOP reached out to Sunflower Bank to discuss refinancing their building’s loan, so they could fund the roof renovation while also installing a new energy efficient HVAC system and solar panels. The Sunflower Bank team recognized that this was more than just a construction project: AOP has a long-standing commitment to doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do, and this commitment takes on many different forms. The funding it secured from Sunflower Bank would make possible one of these commitments.
Throughout the summer and autumn of 2020, Sunflower Bank made sure that the Smith family and the bank’s leadership truly got to know each other through consistent and open communication. The Sunflower Bank team thoroughly outlined the steps of how to fund new solar panels as part of the larger project. As a result of this partnering with the Smith family, Sunflower Bank created a competitive loan structure to fund and complete an environmental construction project that significantly reduces AOP’s energy impact.
Making the World a Better Place
The loan closed at the end of November 2020, and the project successfully completed in February 2021. As the first step, a new energy star cool roof was placed over the existing roof. The old roof was not torn off, instead the new materials were secured to the existing platform, so that no roof waste was added to a landfill. More efficient, updated insulation was added, resulting in a 45% R-value increase, thus making heating and cooling more efficient. All new HVAC units were installed, also increasing energy efficiency by 20-37%. In addition, Ionic purifiers were added for the long-term safety and comfort of American Outdoor Product employees, during a global pandemic and beyond. Namaste Solar installed an array of solar panels that will provide 103% of the building’s electricity usage.
This impactful and meaningful project was made possible by the partnership and professional relationship between American Outdoor Products and Sunflower Bank. The food brands that so many people know and love – Backpacker’s Pantry, Astronaut Ice Cream, Colorado Spice Blending Company and Chef Soraya – are now proudly produced in a state-of-the-art facility that is solar powered, by a company that does the right thing … because it’s the right thing to do.
Sunflower Bank’s mission is bringing out the best in the lives we touch and the communities we serve … Creating Possibility. We are proud to be AOP’s partner as the Smith family continues to lead and innovate through their commitment to uphold the values that have defined the company from the outset: Making the world a better place.