(Lander, WY) – The Maven Outdoor Equipment Company headquarters officially opened its doors on May 11, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local officials, business leaders, Lander and Fremont County residents, and Wyoming’s Governor Mark Gordon.
Maven, which specializes in optics products like binoculars, rangefinders and scopes, officially broke ground back in February of 2022 on an especially wintry Wyoming day that entailed shovels for both the dirt and snow.
The May 11 ceremony was also met with some unpredictable Wyoming weather in the form of a grey and dreary, albeit dry, Spring day, but that didn’t stop the festivities from kicking off once co-owner and emcee Cade Maestas heard the Governor’s jet fly overhead, which signaled his soon-to-be arrival.
As Maestas welcomed the crowd, he recognized co-owners Brendon Weaver and Mike Lilygren, and provided a little backstory on the now 10-year-old business.
“It started with the three of us around a campfire many years ago, trying to figure out how to stay in Lander,” Maestas began. “We all have a passion for the community.”
“We didn’t want to leave. This is where we wanted to raise our families, so we came up with a crazy scheme of a direct consumer sports optics company,” Maestas added, and then explained that Maven only sells directly to consumers, with the exception of their partners at the Wind River Outdoor Company.
Maestas then went on to describe the new headquarters itself, a 26,000 square foot facility located at 1042 Pronghorn Drive, an address name/number that has its roots in the company’s origins.
When Maven operated out of a much smaller building, the middle of the room where the few employees gathered was affectionately referred to as the “Pronghorn Lounge,” and one of their most popular binocular models/sizes is the 10X42, hence the ‘1042 Pronghorn Drive.”
The building also has an actual Pronghorn Lounge, which both Maestas and Governor Gordon would probably say has a much better view than the original lounge…
Maestas noted that amazing view as one of the driving factors for choosing the location, which Maven secured after working with the Wyoming Business Council, LEDA (Lander Economic Development Association), and the Business Ready Community Business Committed Grant Program, which was made available by the City of Lander.
“The benefit to us is,” Maestas explained, “We’re able to lease it from the City, and over the course of that lease, we will pay the full construction value of this project back to the City.”
“The City’s benefit,” Maestas added, “They get to keep 75% of the grant portion, which is 50% of the total cost. So basically, over the course of this project, the City is going to make $2.2M that they get to use on economic development in the Lander area.”
After thanking the Business Council, LEDA and the City for their contributions to the project, Maesas then made sure to thank his, and Lilygren’s and Weaver’s wives.
“Honestly, they should have pulled the plug on us long ago,” he joked.
After recognizing the growth of the company from 6 employees to the 20+ currently on staff, Maestas then introduced the speakers, who were all gifted with a limited edition, gold-trimmed version of the Maven B2 model of binoculars.
First up was Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones, who spoke on behalf of LEDA.
“I get asked all the time what is economic development? What does LEDA do?” Commissioner Jones began, before explaining that the core element is fostering people with “a vision for their community,” then citing Cabela’s, a similar small town/big business success story.
“We all have one thing in common, we want our town to be successful,” Jones went on to say. “We want it to be a great place to live, we want it to be a place to thrive, and LEDA has been a part of that.”
Lander Mayor Monte Richardson was next to speak, who commented that the facility is a “great endeavor” and a “great asset” to Fremont County that is “bringing jobs in and bringing tax dollars in.”
Richardson then went on to thank Maven for the partnership, and also acknowledged the City Council members in attendance, Melinda Cox, John Larsen and Julia Stuble, for their roles.
“This is a great opportunity for the city of Lander,” Richardson concluded.
Following Mayor Richardson was Noelle Reed from the Wyoming Business Council, who shared the Council’s role in in Maven’s development.
“For the Business Council, this was kind of a no-brainer project for us,” Reed explained. “A local business looking to expand their operations that produces high quality, high tech products, not only will help diversify the Lander region, it will help diversify the state, while still staying true to who we are.”
Reed also acknowledged the private/public partnership that occurred with Maven, and commented that, “We are really going to see some amazing things come out of Lander with that $2.2M and with LEDA driving economic development.”
Before Governor Gordon was brought up to address the crowd and commence with the ribbon cutting, Weaver and Lilygren recognized a few “MVP” employees for their efforts, including Kyle West, Inventory Control/Purchasing, and Scott Van Orman, Production Planning/Purchasing.
“They spent countless hours here and really went above and beyond,” Lilygren commented.
Maestas also acknowledged Lander Public Works Director Lance Hopkin for his role as project manager on the City’s side. “He really went to bat for us.”
Finally, Governor Gordon addressed the crowd, and echoed the previous speakers’ sentiments regarding the many benefits of having businesses like Maven in small town Wyoming.
Governor Gordon went on to stress how the “remarkable work” of “people who have a vision” will help diversify the economy in towns like Lander across the state.
“Folks like these, and others around the state, have made our economy more diverse than it has been in 80 years. We are growing and we are expanding and we are going to make sure that we take care of not only our state, but our businesses and our people.”
Following the Governor’s words, the official cutting of the ribbon occurred, and attendees were able to get their first look at the facility.