World’s Largest Kayak-Maker Expands in Michigan Home Base
New Water Capital portfolio company KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies will base its corporate and manufacturing operations in Muskegon, generating 153 jobs and a total $9.2 million in new investment in the region, company CEO Chuck Smith announced this week, alongside Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and officials representing state and local economic development agencies.
Governor Snyder praised KLO/GSC for its decision to establish its corporate headquarters and expand operations in the city of Muskegon. “KL Outdoor/GSC’s decision to establish its global headquarters and expand here rather than in another location means good jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the state’s manufacturing talent,” Snyder said. “KL Outdoor’s merger with Quebec-based GSC Technologies makes the company the largest kayak manufacturer in the world, and we can’t think of a better place for that company to be than right here in the Great Lakes State.”
The company’s new global headquarters will be located in Muskegon’s iconic pyramid-shaped Terrace Point office building at 700 Terrace Point Drive.
The expansion of the KLO/GSC corporate headquarters will accommodate new growth resulting from the company merger and improved efficiencies, said New Water Capital partner Jason Neimark. The company chose the Michigan site over a competing site in Quebec, Canada. “The headquarters and plant expansion has received tremendous support from the state of Michigan and the local community,” Neimark said. “We have tremendous confidence that our investment in the state and in Muskegon will pay off for our company in a stronger, better-run operation and for the people of Michigan in jobs and economic growth.”
The KLO/GSC expansion project received a $765,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“We applaud KLO/GSC’s commitment to Michigan and look forward to working with the company as it continues to expand in the outdoor water sports market,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which administers the MSF grant program. “With more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline, Michigan is a natural fit for the largest paddle sports company in the world.”
The City of Muskegon also has pledged its support for the project with a 12-year tax abatement, valued at $69,000. Workforce development agency West Michigan Works! has offered hiring and training assistance. Individuals interested in careers with KLO Holdings should visit http://kloutdoor.com/.
Muskegon Area First worked with the merged company in collaboration with the MEDC to support KLO/GSC in expanding locally rather than relocating to another state or country. “The company’s 30+ year history, combined with a great workforce and ideal coastal location on Lake Michigan made this the perfect choice for the company’s headquarters” said Ed Garner, president and CEO at Muskegon Area First.
“KL has strategically grown into a world leader in design and production of outdoor recreational products, and it’s fitting that their home will continue to be in one of Michigan’s premier waterfront communities, on the shores of Muskegon Lake and just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan,” said Muskegon Mayor Steve Gawron.
Smith expressed appreciation for the state and local support for the corporate expansion project. “Local and state leadership has continuously demonstrated commitment and support of our mutual interests and growing partnership,” he said. “We are extremely excited about the short and long-term prospects for this combined enterprise, which will continue to benefit from the fast-growing paddle sports business. We are also excited to continue to call Muskegon home and anticipate the office move to the lakeshore site to be a great benefit to our dedicated employees.”
Affiliates of New Water Capital completed significant investments in KL Outdoor in December 2016 and GSC Technologies on April 7, 2017. The two companies announced their merger in April, creating the world’s largest kayak-maker. The combined company manufactures kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, hunting blinds, sleds, storage products, outdoor furniture and portable restrooms under the Sun Dolphin, Future Beach, Evoke, Extent, Equinox, Patriot, Heritage, Viper and Third Coast brands (all related to the company’s watersports segment), Terrain (outdoor hunting products) and Five Peaks (portable restroom products) brands.
KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies Supplies Kayaks to Hurricane Harvey Rescue Effort
As floodwaters rose in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies, a New Water Capital portfolio company, got a call from Walmart’s disaster response team: Two thousand kayaks were needed for flood rescue and relief efforts in Texas and Louisiana. In partnership with Walmart, the company jumped into action, shipping 2,000 of its Sun Dolphin brand kayaks—some 30 truck-loads—to areas hardest hit by devastating flooding.
KLO/GSC also is donating a truck-load of jon boats—approximately 50 boats—to Academy Sports + Outdoors, a Houston-based chain of sporting goods stores, to help with flood rescue efforts, said CEO Chuck Smith. Jon boats are small flat-bottomed fishing boats that are ideal for rescue efforts, capable of carrying multiple people and relief items, such as water and clothing.
KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies’ Five Peaks brand portable outdoor toilets are in use as part of FEMA Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Smith said the surge of support for those in harm’s way demonstrates the best in people. “Unfortunately, many of our customers are put in the situation where they are really having to struggle for their livelihoods,” Smith said. “It’s nice just to play a part in the rescue effort and help get those impacted around a little better.
“I think you see the best in people when you see this situation in Texas, and it gives you a good feeling. It lets you know that if you ever got put in that situation, other folks around the country would step up and help you.”
New Water Capital partner Brian McGee said support for hurricane-relief efforts is particularly important to his Boca Raton, Florida-based firm. “Living and working on the Florida coast, we at New Water Capital know something about hurricanes and about what a difference it makes when neighbors, businesses and volunteers from all over the country chip in to help out,” McGee said. “That’s why we are especially proud of the support our portfolio company KL Outdoor / GSC Technologies is giving to rescue and relief efforts.”
New Water Capital announced the merger of paddle sports companies KL Outdoor and GSC Technologies in April 2017, creating the largest kayak manufacturing company in the world.
Based in Muskegon, the combined company manufactures kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, hunting blinds, sleds, storage products, outdoor furniture and portable restrooms under the Sun Dolphin, Future Beach, Evoke, Extent, Equinox, Patriot, Heritage, Viper and Third Coast brands (all related to the company’s watersports segment), Terrain (outdoor hunting products) and Five Peaks (portable restroom products) brands.
About New Water Capital, L.P.
New Water Capital, L.P. is a private equity firm focused on lower-middle market companies in transition, in the consumer, retail and industrial manufacturing and services sectors, with revenues of $30 million to $300 million. New Water Capital’s collaboative transaction and operating model is built specifically to support companies in transition, building on their unique cultures and strengths. For more information, please visit www.newwatercap.com.
KL Outdoor and GSC/Future Beach Announce Merger Creating the World's Largest Kayak Company
KL Outdoor, maker of Sun Dolphin kayaks, and GSC Technologies, maker of Future Beach kayaks, will combine to form a single company, with the brand recognition, design talent and industry expertise of two leading players in the paddle sports products industry. “The merger will create the largest kayak company in the world,” said Mark Becker, partner at Boca Raton-based private equity firm New Water Capital, L.P.
Affiliates of New Water Capital completed significant investments in KL Outdoor in December 2016 and GSC Technologies on April 7, 2017.
The merger is expected to result in a company with increased capacity to accommodate fast growing customer demands, a broader product offering and brand portfolio, strengthened financial standing and multiple product shipping points. “The combination will create, we believe, the only vertically-integrated kayak manufacturer with rotational molding, thermoforming, and blow molding technologies as well as injection molding capabilities,” Becker said.
“We see tremendous benefit to our customers, vendors and employees through the combination of the two companies,” said Tom Harris, KL Outdoor president.
“Our two companies are a natural fit, with products and areas of expertise that complement one another and provide a tremendous opportunity to expand into new product lines in the rapidly growing outdoor water sports market,” said Robert Farber, GSC president.
Muskegon-based KL Outdoor manufactures kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, hunting blinds, sleds and portable restrooms and related accessories under the Sun Dolphin, Evoke, Extent and Third Coast (all related to the company’s watersports segment), Terrain (outdoor hunting products) and Five Peaks (portable restroom products) brands. KL Outdoor sells products to a diverse, blue-chip customer base across North America for the watersports business and globally for the outdoor events business segment.
Montreal-based GSC Technologies manufactures kayaks and paddle-craft under the Future Beach, Equinox, Patriot, Heritage, and Viper brands. Additionally, GSC produces branded storage and outdoor furniture products. Company production facilities are located in the U.S. and Canada. GSC brands are carried by leading, blue-chip mass and specialty sporting goods retailers.
The companies will be immediately offering their combined product portfolios and manufacturing capacity to key customers. Further information related to the merger will be communicated to their key business partners in the near future.
About New Water Capital, L.P.
New Water Capital, L.P. is a private equity firm focused on lower-middle market companies in transition, in the consumer, retail and industrial manufacturing and services sectors, with revenues of $30 million to $300 million. New Water Capital’s collaborative transaction and operating model is built specifically to support companies in transition, building on their unique cultures and strengths. For more information, please visit www.newwatercap.com.
Introducing the new Evoke Kayak Design
Our very own Shelly Trombly introducing the 2017 Evoke Kayak Design. Filmed by Rapid Media at the 2016 Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake City Utah.
KL Outdoor Proud Sponsor of Standup for the Cure Muskegon Event
The Standup for the Cure committee presented the Susan G Komen Foundation with their check for the event held in July. KL Outdoor was a proud sponsor for the SUP event on Muskegon Lake and want to thank all the other sponsors that were part of the success of raising money for a great cause! We can't wait for next year.
KL Industries has experienced exponential growth within the last few years. New designs and innovative products have led Sun Dolphin to become the single largest selling brand of small boats. Recent and significant entry into the specialty kayak market under the Evoke Brand and continued growth in fall and winter categories under the Terrain Brand have created further expansion into new and exciting markets.
To more accurately represent our expanding portfolio of outdoor products the management team at KL Industries (DBA Ameriform Acquisition Co. LLC) has decided to change the company’s name to KL Outdoor™. The new name combined with tag line “Keep Living” represents our dedication to the healthy outdoor lifestyle which our products symbolize. The purpose of the change is to align our company’s corporate and product brand identities under one unified label. Our associates are excited about the change as it reflects both the significant growth the company has experienced in recent years and the direction the company is heading.
There is no change in ownership and no change in staff. The company will continue to operate in its current structure, and your contacts will remain unchanged. Our office location, phone, and fax numbers will remain the same. The name change will be phased in across all aspects of the business. To make the transition as seamless as possible we will have our team of customer service agents work closely with your team.
We are very excited about this this change and hope you share our enthusiasm. With over 33 years of business presence in the industry, we, KL Outdoor, look forward to continue to grow and serve you in the global market under our new name.