Jeremy Guard

This is a very personal post for me. Jeremy Guard was a controversial personality that didn't always blend well with others. He was a bold visionary and an aggressive businessman. On more than one occasion he risked the future of Arc'teryx on the success of the next big initiative. He believed deeply in the power of great design to build a brand. That was reflected in who he hired, and how the early years of the organization was structured. I see many parallels in Jeremy with Steve Jobs, who also put design on a pedestal.. as an innovator and bold visionary.. as well as a controversial personality. Both of them leveraged the power of great design to drive massive market disruptions in their fields. That kind of innovation only happens when design integrity is placed as a top priority from the very top of the organization, which is extremely rare to say the least.

Jeremy hired me in 1998 to create the snow sports program of apparel and packs for Arc'teryx. His belief in me, was an inflection point in my career, as he empowered me to do my best possible work. He supported high risk innovations like the Sidewinder Jacket, when others couldn't see the benefit. Back then, design really was driving the company, which never would have happened without Jeremy.

Jeremy went on to spend over the last decade solo adventure motorcycle touring all over the world. Through ultra remote terrain and at times travelling through war zones, and places you have to negotiate your way through borders, across multiple continents. We stayed in touch throughout, and I got a few glimpses of his adventures. I had looked forward to sitting down with him someday to hear some of his stories, as there had to be profound life-changing experiences being exposed to so much of the world in such a raw way. Unfortunately, that conversation will never happen as Jeremy passed away unexpectedly in Botswana last year. This post is really about acknowledging his impact on who I became as a designer. It was an honour to be a part of the wild-west formative years of Arc'teryx, with all the other talented people, that (as a small company) turned a whole industry on it's head.                                                 

-Tom Routh

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