Business snapshot: Icetrek
Eric Philips dreamt of becoming a polar explorer. Today, he’s one of them. For him, the North Pole and the South Pole are familiar neighbourhoods.
So how does someone go from being an outdoor education teacher at Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus to a Hobart-based polar explorer? For Eric who had always loved skiing and winter pursuits, the transition came naturally.
Tasmania has been Eric’s home for the past 13 years. “Hobart is a great base and I like the cold climate.”
“I began as a sponsored adventurer which led on to guiding,” explains Eric. “These days my business Icetrek [has two components] expeditions and equipment, both of which I export. I literally offer trips to the ends of the earth.”
If the south is calling, Eric has ventured to Antarctica from every gateway town and his guides have been skiing to the South Pole for near on two decades. Travellers are in safe hands. And if kite-skiing takes your fancy, he also runs expeditions propelled by wind-power.
Clearly, Eric does nothing in halves. The equipment arm of his business has also made its mark globally. His polar equipment has been bought by the US military, with other countries including Norway and Sweden intending to purchase his products over the coming five years.
“We’ve sold about 2 000 pairs of Flexi ski bindings to the US army,” Eric says. “These are suitable for extreme-cold temperatures, [and are] designed for wide, heavily insulated boots.”
Not everyone is in the market for an amphibious expedition sled, but if you are, Icetrek’s equipment has been proven and tested in some of the most hostile corners of the planet. If Eric’s tactical gear is good enough for international military, it’s sure to last more than a few treks to the poles. For the less adventurous, there are also t-shirts, manufactured using only energy from wind and solar power.
If you’re thinking of moving a touch closer to the South Pole, Make it Tasmania.