Aztech Mountain is gearing up for its next chapter and has tapped retail veteran Ron Frasch to serve on its newly created board.
The high-end, skiwear-skewed brand was founded in 2013 by Anthony Heifara Rutgers and David Roth who had a combined 20 years of experience in the apparel industry. Rutgers worked at LVMH’s watch and jewelry division and moved on to Marc Jacobs, while Roth has an MBA from New York University and is a trained forensic accountant whose grandfather started the eyeglass firm Avant-Garde, which was eventually sold to Luxottica, and whose father started Marchon, which was sold to VSP in 2008.
Since launching, Aztech Mountain has caught the attention of Barneys New York and other high-end retailers and is now carried in over 70 stores in 10 countries, according to Rutgers.
“A founder’s vision is always amazing, but we also know we have blinders on,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of outside influence or anyone to ask questions and poke holes in what we’re doing. We think the brand can be much bigger, but we need to grow up a little bit and Ron will be able to tell us whether to accelerate or pull back. He’s the sounding board we’ve been looking for and can tell us which levers to pull.”
Frasch, the one-time president and chief merchant of Saks Fifth Avenue, is now an operating partner in the private equity firm Castanea Partners. He said: “I was introduced to Anthony and David a couple of years ago, and have been extremely impressed by their vision, the quality of Aztech Mountain products, and their personal and innovative approach toward design and technology.”
The brand’s roots are in skiwear but it offers performance sportswear with a modern design aesthetic that works off the mountain as well.
In September of 2016, Olympic gold-winning skier Bode Miller joined the company as an equity partner and chief innovation officer. He, Rutgers, Roth and Frasch are the current members of the board of directors although Rutgers said it may eventually get larger to include a couple more members with expertise in fabric development or manufacturing.
At this point, neither Frasch nor his company have invested in the brand, but that may change. Rutgers said they have been approached by several firms seeking to provide financing for growth, but haven’t brought anyone else on board — yet. But they’d be open to the possibility if the fit was right. “They’d have to add value and move the needle,” he said.