Cordova Coolers

Top: Douglas Guffey, plant foreman at Cordova Coolers, oversees the final assembly of a cooler on Tuesday in Nampa.

NAMPA — When Cordova Coolers founder Scott Campbell heard that cooler manufacturer Yeti revoked its discount for National Rifle Association members, he was surprised.

But now, after watching his business increase by 25 percent about a month after the controversy hit the news, Campbell said he sees it as an opportunity.

“We’re thankful Yeti did what they did,” he said.

In late April, outrage spread among NRA members and other gun owners nationwide when Yeti announced it was eliminating its discount program for the NRA and several other organizations. It was the latest in a national trend of organizations cutting ties with the NRA as part of a boycott, although Yeti officials did not say their decision was meant to be directed at the NRA.

Regardless, the backlash led some gun owners to destroy Yeti products, including exploding Yeti coolers. It also brought about a flood of calls to the Cordova Coolers headquarters from brick-and-mortar stores and individual consumers who were curious to see where the Nampa-based company stood on the gun rights debate.

Campbell, a lifetime NRA member, was quick to reassure the callers that his company firmly supports the Second Amendment. Cordova Coolers offers a 10 percent discount to NRA members and donates $10 to the NRA for every cooler purchased with the discount program. He said he has only seen a positive response to this stance.

“Everybody has been very appreciative,” he said.

Cordova Coolers was founded in 2014 in Walla Walla, Washington, and moved its headquarters to Nampa in 2016, where it employs about 30 people. Before starting his business, Campbell was featured as a captain on the Discovery Channel program, “Deadliest Catch.”

Campbell claims Cordova Coolers is one of fewer than 10 U.S. cooler companies that build their products underneath their own roof. All of Cordova’s hard-sided coolers are built in Nampa, he said.

Manufacturing coolers in the United States cuts down on shipping costs. Because the coolers are large and bulky, they take a lot of space to ship, but they are also hollow, which is not economically efficient, he said.

“Essentially, you’re shipping air,” Campbell said.

From Nampa, Cordova’s coolers are sent to about 125 retailers across the U.S. Campbell said about 80 percent of Cordova’s business comes from brick-and-mortar stores that sell their products, such as D&B Supply, while the remaining 20 percent comes from direct customers.

In the month after Yeti removed its NRA discount, Campbell said Cordova’s business has increased 20-25 percent, which he thinks is based on customers who appreciate the company’s support for the Second Amendment. He said that about 85 percent of Cordova’s customers are gun owners, while 50 percent he estimated are NRA members.

This isn’t the first time a political debate has impacted businesses in the U.S. In 2012, popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A was in the center of a controversy when Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy spoke out against same-sex marriage, leading to nationwide protests against the restaurant. Then in 2014, Hobby Lobby prompted a lawsuit when it refused to offer emergency contraceptive products such as Plan B to employees, citing religious beliefs.

Even if the general consensus on gun rights changes in the future, Campbell said he hopes people will continue to respect Cordova’s stance and value their product all the same.

“My business model is based upon my beliefs on today, and 20 years from now there will still be hunters, there will still be people that enjoy their Second Amendment rights, and those are the people we’ll be catering to,” he said.

Erin Bamer is the city of Nampa reporter. Contact her at 208-465-8193, or ebamer@idahopress.com. Follow on Twitter @ErinBamer.

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