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Paddling

A new owner for Kokatat

After owning the Arcata, Calif.-based paddlesports apparel and gear brand for 50 years, Steve O’Meara has sold the business to one of his employees.


Another day, another deal in the outdoor space.

The industry has seen a surge in M&A of late, and this week brought the news that Kokatat founder Steve O’Meara has sold the Arcata, Calif.-based paddling gear brand that he founded half a century ago to the company’s director of operations, Mark Loughmiller.

The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but O’Meara selling the longtime business to a company owner keeps the brand “in the family,” so to speak. Loughmiller now becomes the company’s CEO while O’Meara will retain a minor stake in the company.

Read more: Kokatat recently expanded its factory and warehouse and added 30 new jobs

Loughmiller has been with the brand for eight years, joining Kokatat in 2013 after more than a decade as executive director of the Arcata Community Recycling Center.

“Kokatat is not only a cornerstone brand in paddlesports, but also in our community,” said Loughmiller. “Steve has created an amazing brand that will forever be tied to Arcata, and we look forward to building on this foundation for another 50 years and beyond.”

The move comes during a milestone year for the brand and its founder. O’Meara started Kokatat—first known as Blue Puma—in 1971 “purely as a way to help get people out on the trails and waterways of Humboldt County,” the company said in a release.

Soon after, friends asked O’Meara to create some quality paddling apparel for an expedition they were planning on the Alsek River in British Columbia. That turned into a global paddlesports apparel gear brand that now enters its next chapter with a new owner.

It’s the latest transaction in what has been a busy few months for outdoor M&A. Here are some of the deals that OBJ has reported.

And this week alone, one brand, Turtle Fur, and one outdoor specialty shop, Chopwood Mercantile, announced they were on the selling block.