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Area firm rides adventure wave

John Seelmeyer

Todd Jackson takes the catch phrase “America’s Adventure Place” seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that he’s betting much of the future growth of his business will come from the development of the Reno/Tahoe region as a hot spot for outdoor adventure sports.

Jackson’s company, Seventh Wave Productions, spearheads this weekend’s Silver Sage Adventure Race in Reno.

In that event, participants will race through forest, desert, city streets and the Truckee River Whitewater Park.

In May, the company produced the festival that marked the opening of the whitewater course, and Seventh Wave Productions also has handled events such as the XTERRA National Championship at Lake Tahoe.

In fact, Jackson said last week, about half his company’s annual schedule of 10 adventure races is scheduled in Reno and Lake Tahoe, and he expects the number to grow as adventure racing booms.

From its office at Kings Beach on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Seventh Wave’s three-part employees work with a bevy of independent contractors to nail down all the details required for an adventure race.

Jackson himself handles much of the work to get the necessary permits from government agencies whose streets and forests his events will use.

Outside contractors, meanwhile, handle graphic design, the placement of advertising, public relations and a multitude of other details.

But the key to the financial success of Seventh Wave Productions,

Jackson said, is its ability to attract corporate sponsors.

So he spends a good amount of time on the phone, making his pitch to companies that want their brands to be associated with outdoor recreation and adventure racing.

This weekend’s event in Reno, for instance, numbers among its sponsors Sportif, the Sparks-based maker of outdoor clothing, as well as outdoor outfitter REI and National Geographic.

Jackson, who’s been in the business since he started organizing windsurfing competitions on San Francisco Bay 20 years ago, said he’s grown more sophisticated in recent years about marketing adventure racing events.

Rather than simply take an existing event out to potential sponsors, Jackson and his team spend part of their days dreaming up events with specific sponsors in mind.

If the sponsorship doesn’t materialize, neither does the race.

Potential sponsors show growing interest in adventure racing, however, as a way to reach active, young and outdoor- oriented consumers.

Another new market for Seventh Wave Productions is corporate incentive packages.

The Reno/Tahoe region already is an attractive destination for corporations looking to reward employees for a job well done.

Seventh Wave wants to sell them packages in which participants taste some of the same experiences on the trail, on the water as adventure racers.

Already, Jackson said, a cable television company has signed up for the program this summer.

It’s all part of a maturing process for Seventh Wave Productions after years in which it operated as something more akin to a large-scale hobby for Jackson.

“We’re at a turning point,” he said.

“It’s becoming real.

It’s a production company now.”

And that means Jackson pays more attention to the bottom line than he did in the past.

“The way to make more is like any business generating revenue streams and watching your expenses,” he said.

“And part of that is creating a good product so that people want to return.”

The company’s recent results?

“We’re doing OK,” Jackson said.

“We’ve carved out a niche for ourselves.”