Monday, July 23, 2012

Ultraspire R&D in the Philippines

Par for the course I am slow in writing about the amazing things that continue to happen to me.  After spending a few days in Southern California after the San Diego 100, which included Sea World, surfing with the crew from Patagonia in Ventura, and visiting the Patagonia HQ, we hit the road home. Almost as immediately upon arriving home I was packing again, this time I was headed to the Philippines to work on R&D for Ultraspire for a week.

Chloe and Brynlee checking out the turtles at Sea World

Brynlee and I getting surf lessons from Patagonia rockstar Allison 

Brynlee getting the hang of it

The travel to the Philippines is exhausting, and I managed to have an epic travel day with mechanical delays, runways closures and airport bivys.  I arrived at 6:30 am, 8 hours later than planned, so instead of going to bed and sleeping of the jet lag time warp I went to the hotel gym and hammered on the treadmill for 45 minutes.  I then got to meet up with the Thatcher's at the buffet breakfast before we hit the road for a 3 hour drive from Manila to Marivelas.

Sushi, fried shrimp, potatoes and a waffle.  What else do you eat after 45 hours of travel?

I fought fatigue on the drive as I tried to stay awake and absorb as much as possible of this new country.  Late in the drive the fatigue won out and I dosed off.  What seemed like moments later we were arriving at the Dongin Entech Factory building that does the majority of Ultraspire (among others) production.  We spent the next 4 hours getting things organized and setting priority lists of projects.  At 8 pm we stumbled back to the car and then to the house we were staying in.  We ate and then I collapsed in bed, exhausted but excited for the early morning run planned for the next morning.

Micah Thatcher loads up on supplies- Fish Crackers?

Fridge on a motorcyle

4:45 am the alarm on my iPhone brutally drags me from sleep, but an instant later I am dressed and headed upstairs.  The whole crew Bryce, Melanie and three of the Thatcher boys; Micah, Josh, and Matthew and myself all head out for a morning trail run.  Stepping outside was a shock, I am conditioned to expect cool temps when I leave my house this early, well not in the Philippines.  I was greeted by a blast of hot humid air, and with a smile I headed out to into the morning.

Micah and I near the top of Mount Terak

Bryce and Matthew on the way up Terak

The next several days went by in a blur, early morning runs, a quick breakfast, off to the factory.  Lunch around 1:00 (an amazing homemade lunch prepared by Manon), back to the factory until around 8, stumble home, eat, to bed, repeat.

Lady Manon-this lady can cook!

Just one of our many delicious meals

 It was so incredible to be involved with developing many products and concepts at this level.  It grounded my thoughts on how quality products are made and how talented the Philippino workers are to be able to sew such complicated pieces of equipment with such outstanding accuracy.  Before I knew it we were having a farewell Ice Cream party with the sample room crew and loading into the car for the drive back to Manila.

The Sample room after everyone has gone home

Some of the crew working hard

Pattern cutters, and sewers showing off Ultraspire Bottles

In Manila we had a wonderful dinner with Peter at a fancy Asian Fusion Restaurant before heading to the hotel to sleep a couple of hours.

Mango Shake- so good

Maybe we shouldn't have watched Lord of the Rings when we should have been sleeping before our 4:30 am flight!

 4:30 am found us in the hotel lobby getting ready to make the travel slog home.  It was fun traveling back with the Thatcher's instead of being solo.  We were able to take advantage of the Sky Lounges which made travel a little more comfortable, even for a dedicated dirtbag like myself.  Interestingly we experienced delays on the way back home that resulted in missed connections and more delays, but delays aside I wouldn't hesitate to hop on the flights to make the same journey again.  I am very thankful to the crew at Ultraspire for allowing me to be so intimately involved with developing products and thanks the the Thatchers for an awesome trip.


  1. I love the Philippines! I miss that place, I'm glad you got to experience it.

  2. Looking forward to the fruits of that labor my friend...