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Sally McCoy, founding partner of Silver Steep Partners, and former president of Sierra Designs and Ultimate Direction, is the new CEO and president of CamelBak. McCoy has, for the previous two years, served as a member of the CamelBak board of directors.
McCoy told us that Bear Stearns is allowing her to assume the chairman’s seat on the newly announced Silver Steep advisory board, and see projects Silver Steep currently has on the table to conclusion.
McCoy’s first task will be to restore order to CamelBak, a company that insiders tell us is in a bit of disarray. While McCoy does not disagree there are things that need to be worked on and quickly, she sees plenty of upside and opportunity.
“CamelBak is a category creator, and yet we are not currently acting like one,” said McCoy. “That will change. Everything CamelBak should do should be about expanding and innovating hydration and essential gear. We own the water category and need to run the company accordingly.”
SNEWS® View: About time! While there are many, many talented folks working at CamelBak, it has been, for whatever reason, a company that has been operating on a kind of dysfunctional autopilot for several years now. Never mind that Bear Stearns overpaid for the brand when it acquired it. This is a brand that should be dominating the innovation coming from the hydration category. Name one significant product innovation in the outdoor space from CamelBak in the last two years? Yep, a bottle. And it’s a great bottle, but come on! That’s not even close to sufficient.
Outside of the outdoor realm, the only other smart and significant move CamelBak has made is its February acquisition of Southwest Motorsports — a tactical glove manufacturer. OK, so that has nothing to do with hydration, but it has everything to do with the tactical market which the company is very, very entrenched in. And, it snatched up a very talented entrepreneur by all accounts in Martina Hutchinson, founder and president of Southwest Motorsports who is now an executive at CamelBak.
So, what gives? Why isn’t CamelBak firing on even three of its once very powerful eight-cylinder engine? It has been lacking fuel that comes from leadership. McCoy should provide that in spades. With its size and resources, CamelBak should own the hydration category — and by ownership, we don’t mean to imply size, we mean to imply innovation. McCoy replaces Marty O’Donohue who was named CamelBak’s CEO just this past February, but, according to insiders, didn’t work out for a variety of reasons.
Expect savvy acquisitions under McCoy in the first few years of her term, and expect much, much more product innovation and product launches in the recreation and military categories.
As for McCoy’s role in Silver Steep, click here to read our story posted Oct. 16.