Several well-known outdoor brands came to Summer Market with new owners, as merger-and-acquisition activity remained busy in the first half of 2013.
The latest deal came just days before the show, with Granite Gear co-founders Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank announcing they had sold their 27-year-old backcountry pack and tactical gear business to an investment team of outdoor and luggage industry veterans.
The co-founders will remain with the company — Cruikshank as brand ambassador and Knight as managing director — with new co-owner Bryan Kinsley taking over the CEO post, and Zee Zhuang assuming the role of vice president of operations. Rob Coughlin will be senior vice president of product development. Design and manufacturing will remain in Two Harbors, Minn., but Granite Gear’s headquarters will move to Lake Forest, Ill. Company officials said the brand will expand into travel gear in addition to its outdoor and military goods.
TimBuk2 marked its 25th birthday with new capital and consolidated ownership. TB2 Investors, led by former Timberland COO Ken Pucker, partnered with TimBuk2 management to repurchase the controlling equity in the company from VMG Partners and others. “The transaction enables TimBuk2 to continue on the same path without interruption with an even stronger balance sheet and fresh board level experience,” CEO Mike Wallenfels said.
Paddlesports expert NRS shifted into acquisition mode just prior to the show, announcing the purchase of WRSI Helmets, a manufacturer of whitewater safety and protection gear. “Our customers, retailers and friends will all benefit from a more efficient supply chain and NRS’ deep commitment to whitewater and river recreation,” said WRSI President Nick Turner.
The deals join numerous other outdoor acquisitions in the first half of 2013, including:
>> Deckers acquiring Hoka One One
>> Otterbox acquiring LifeProof
>> Onex Corp. acquiring Nielsen Expositions (now Emerald Expositions, operator of Outdoor Retailer, Interbike and other trade shows)
>> TJX Cos. acquiring Sierra Trading Post
>> Active Interest Media acquiring Ski, Skiing and Warren Miller Entertainment
>> Backwoods acquiring Neptune Mountaineering