Chums Lifestyle

From River Guide to Entrepeneur

We haven’t forgotten where we came from and we’re proud of that!

It all began in 1978 in Tucson, Arizona. Mike Taggett met a few guys while hiking, they became friendly. Taggett learned that they were River Runners, and shortly thereafter, they invited him to join them on the Salt River, a cool and technical 2-day trip. As their friendship grew, the allure of the river called to Taggett, and he was invited to be a baggage Boatman for ARTA, on the Colorado through Cataract Canyon. With that invitation, Taggett packed up his bags, and famously hitchhiked his way to Moab, UT.

Taggett spent 2 seasons on Cataract Canyon, before becoming a baggage boatman for Martin Litton’s Grand Canyon Dories. Soon Taggett was upgraded from the baggage boats to his own Dory. And for 3 seasons he guided the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Early in 1982, Taggett had the idea for the Original Cotton Chum. After continually watching his clients lose their sunglasses (Vaurnets to be specific) to the bottom of the Colorado, he was struck with an idea. After an epic 1983 season on the river, Mike moved to Hurricane, UT with a $60 sewing machine and some fabric. He spent his days inventing and perfecting, while living out of a VW van and the boathouse. But slowly, his idea manifested into the Original Cotton Chum and soon production was taking off. Within a year major distributors like Swatch were placing orders, and the rest, is well, history.

Chums’ next chapter in history came at the hands of Chuck Ferries, famous for his ski racing history and for his leadership in big name ski brands.

Chuck’s story starts with a love and passion for skiing and for the mountains, a continual thread through his journey from Michigan, to Colorado, to Washington, and finally to Sun Valley, Idaho. In the 1960’s Ferries was a part of the U.S. Ski Team and named to the U.S. Olympic Ski Team in 1960 and 1964. In 1962, Ferries was the first ever U.S. American male skier to win the Hahnenkamm Slalom Race. And today, he is still the only American male to hold this title.

When Ferries hung up his racing skis, he began working in ski development, marketing, and sales, as well as coaching. Ferries helped to coach the next generation of legends as part-time coach and eventual head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team and finally the 1968 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ski Team. After the Olympics, the self-described “ski-nut” turned his attention full time to sales with Head Skis. From Head, Ferries joined K2 Ski Company to develop the fiberglass racing ski. But, after years on Vashon Island in Washington State, Ferries was in search of easy daily ski access, less rainy days, and a community to raise his children; bringing him to Sun Valley, Idaho. Once in Idaho, Ferries launched PRE (Precision) Skis, a sister brand to K2 Skis and in 1981, as Scott USA filed for bankruptcy, together with Bob Smith (owner of Smith Goggles), Ferries bailed the company out and took over leadership at one of the most iconic U.S. ski brands in history.

In the late 1990’s, Ferries sold Scott USA, and jokes that he dabbled in retirement, but wasn’t very good at it. Not one to sit still for long, Ferries broke out of his retirement with the purchase of Chums, Inc in 2002 in partnership with his son and son-in-law with the vision of creating the true American family run company. Ferries’ steadfast commitment to “The Best” guided the team through their early years with Chums and saw the company more than triple in size and revenue over the last 15 years, and saw the product line expansion into accessories and small packs and bags. As the President and CEO, Ferries continued to push innovation through product development, instilled a commitment to American-made manufacturing (out of the company’s Hurricane, UT manufacturing facility), and embedded an unwavering passion for unbeatable customer service into all his employees. With Ferries’ guidance and vision, Chums became the global brand we know and love today.