Michael West of 686 Technical Apparel | CEOs You Should Know

In the latest episode of CEO's You Should Know, Jane Wells interviews CEO Michael West, of 686 Technical Apparel, a company that makes winter apparel for skiers, snowboarders and anyone who likes to go outside. Or, as they like to say on their website, 686 Technical Apparel seeks to push current boundaries of "design construction and interaction."

Over the years, 686 Technical Apparel has grown into a worldwide brand, with clothing being sold by nearly 3,000 retailers worldwide. It's a long way from when he sewed his first pieces of clothing, and created a catalog on his own - something that would eventually land him an order for $100,000.

His company's name has a dual, personal meaning for him. He started the business at age 20 (6+8+6) and in June 1986, his Japanese mother and grandmother reconciled.

When asked what he believes his biggest mistake has been over the years, Michael has to think about it for a moment.

"I'm constantly making mistakes, " he says with a laugh. "I think the biggest mistake we have is when we take on too much and you lose focus."

For Micheal, when you're doing a lot of good work, it's easy to believe you can do even more. He says he's learned from experience and from his peers to stay focused on what he does well, and not over-expand.

One challenge Micheal says he faces as a business owner is the fact that 686 Technical Apparel is a one-season business, and there are things he can't control - namely the weather.

"We're bound, no matter what we do right, we can't control the weather," he said. "From 2013 to 2015 were probably some of the worst winters ever. ... We were in a tough position, we didn't make money for the first time. I worry about those things, as you do. It's part of every business."

Despite all the hours and hard work he puts into the company, Michael says he's still able to go skateboarding and snowboard every once in awhile.

"I do that for sure, but it's quality, right Jane? It's quality these days," Michael says with a grin.

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