The Sierra Dawn Story
Charles Maurer, father of current Sierra
Dawn owner Chris Maurer, was born in 1910
in the small town of Lake City in the San
Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. His
family moved to San Diego, California when
he was 5 years old, but returned to
Colorado often for visits and vacations.
From his earliest childhood Charles, also
known as Charlie, enjoyed camping, fishing
and hiking in the high country.
In 1936 Charlie graduated from UCLA with
a degree in chemistry, and worked for
several large personal care product
manufacturers from the late 1930's through
the 1970's. During World War II he was
stationed in Saipan in the south Pacific
as the administrator of an army hospital.
Charlie returned to California after the
war, was married in 1949, and in 1954 his
wife Betty Ann gave birth to their son
As Chris grew up, he enjoyed frequent
camping and fishing trips with his family,
and in the early 1960's Chris went on his
first wilderness backpacking trip.
Charlie, Chris and their neighbors Casey
and Gene McVey, took many camping,
backpacking and fishing trips together
with the local Boy Scout troop, and on
their own. It was during this time that
Charlie and Gene started working on the
idea for Campsuds.
In the old days most backpackers just
carried a bar of soap for washing. Charlie
and Gene came up with the concept of
having one concentrated, biodegradable,
all-purpose cleaner that campers and
backpackers could use to wash everything
that needed to be washed on an outing. Not
many people had even heard the term
"biodegradable" at that time, and many
people weren't concerned about the
environmental impact of camping, but
Charlie formulated our original Campsuds
to break down quickly and safely in the
In 1968 Charlie and Gene founded Sierra
Dawn and started selling Campsuds. Gene
created the original package designs and
made sales calls to local mountaineering
shops, Charlie mixed up the small batches
of the Campsuds formula, and together they
bottled up the finished product in Gene's
garage. One of Charlie's hobbies was
formulating cleaning and personal care
products for various uses, and Campsuds
was more like a hobby for both Gene and
Charlie in the beginning. But the Campsuds
idea was unique, and quite popular from
the start, and sales took off. In the late
1960's backpacking boomed in popularity,
and Campsuds was picked up by some of the
new outdoor specialty distributors that
were starting up. Since that time Campsuds
has basically sold itself based on its
reputation for exceptional quality and
convenience. Campsuds sales continued to
grow year after year, and are still
growing strong today!
From the beginning Chris worked part-time
for Sierra Dawn, helping Gene and his dad
fill the orders, and this continued to be
a part-time job for Chris for many years.
Chris attended Sonoma State University in
northern California in the mid-1970's, and
graduated with a degree in liberal studies
in 1979. He traveled and worked at various
jobs after college, eventually returning
to work full time at Sierra Dawn. In the
early 1980's Gene left the business and
Chris became a partner with his dad.
All his life Chris has loved to get out
into the wilderness -- hiking, camping and
backpacking across the western U.S.,
Canada and Hawaii. He shared a strong
connection to the outdoor industry with
his father, and worked together closely
with him for many years. In the late
1980's Charlie decided to turn the
business over to his son.
with over fifty years of experience, Chris
continues to run the business very much in
the tradition of his father, endeavoring
to provide the highest quality products at
a fair price, and the best possible
service to Sierra Dawn's customers.
Thank you for your interest in Sierra
Dawn Products, and please use our products
with care in the wilderness.
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