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Survival-Kit Firm Enters Nonemergency Market


Ventura County resident Bob Stotz was out of town on business when a series of small aftershocks rumbled through the area recently. But had he been home, he no doubt would have been prepared for whatever the earthquakes had to offer.

Stotz is vice president of Survivor Industries Inc., a Newbury Park-based manufacturer of emergency survival kits. And as the Earth moved near Simi Valley, Stotz was busy promoting his company's survival products in South Africa.

"There is not a place in the world that is devoid of emergencies," Stotz said after returning last week. "They are always going to be there--earthquakes, floods, cyclones, droughts."

But rather than promote the kits as emergency items--a negative connotation--Stotz was busy talking them up as personal care kits, a marketing course Survival Industries has been traveling more frequently in recent months.

Survivor Industries manufactures a variety of emergency kits, retailing from about $10 for a basic kit that includes a nutritional food bar, water and a thermal blanket, to several hundred dollars for a kit that will accommodate the basic needs of up to 10 people for three days.

"We're refocusing away from disasters to personal care kits that would be great for automobiles, out of doors, or as a gift item," Stotz said. "We're going over to South Africa and some other countries because they do a tremendous amount of outdoor work--safaris, excursions, and these organizations should have something to take with them [on their trips]. You never know when something adverse it going to happen."

The privately held company has annual revenue of several million dollars, Stotz said, largely split between the domestic market and Japan. He said he anticipates the increased push into foreign markets to lead to considerable growth.

On the domestic front, Stotz said sales picked up immediately following the region's rumblings, as they typically do after earthquakes. But the goal, Stotz said, is to have more consistent sales.

"With something like what happened recently, the increase in sales will probably last a few days. With a Northridge type of quake, probably a few weeks," he said.

"This has been one of the challenges of the retail market," he said.

"A lot of retail stores think of these as earthquake kits, and they are left hanging with a lot of stock that wouldn't sell. That's one of the reasons we've repositioned them, so they will sell year-round."

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