Confluence Buys WaterMark

Two of the paddlesports industry’s largest companies are coming together, as Confluence Holdings announced today (May 12, 2005) that it has signed an agreement to acquire the water sports division assets of WaterMark. The agreement does not include WaterMark’s land sports division, which includes Yakima roof racks and accessories.
Industry veteran Richard Feehan has been named CEO of Confluence.

The transaction is expected to close Monday.

“This is a very exciting time for me to come on board at Confluence,” said Feehan. “Confluence and WaterMark’s paddlesports division include the most recognized brands in the industry and together will form the premier paddlesports company in the world.”

Confluence is the parent company for Wilderness Systems touring kayaks, Wave Sport whitewater kayaks, Mad River Canoe, Velocity paddles, and Voyageur water sports accessories.

WaterMark’s watersports division includes Dagger touring and whitewater kayaks, Perception touring and whitewater kayaks, Mainstream recreational kayaks, Islander sit-on-tops, Harmony paddlesports accessories, and AT Paddles.

“When you look at our combined market share, we’re kind of like Nike in sneakers,” Feehan said in an interview with Canoe & Kayak on Thursday. “They’re strong, but there are plenty of other sneaker companies.”

Confluence and the WaterMark paddlesports division will continue to operate as autonomous business units for the remainder of the 2005 selling season. Confluence fully anticipates that industry veterans Kelley Woolsey, SVP Marketing & Sales, and Bob McDonough, VP of Research & Development, will continue to lead the Confluence side of the business, and Brian Fisch, VP of Sales, Ron Barlow, VP of Operations, and Tony Lee, Director of Research & Development, will continue to lead the WaterMark side.

“As this acquisition will be taking place in the midst of the selling season we will do everything we can to ensure that there is no disruption to our customer service, delivery performance or sales coverage. It will be business as usual for our customers,” added Feehan.

As part of the agreement, Confluence has contracted WaterMark to continue to handle all customer service activities for the WaterMark paddlesports division from their current customer service center in Arcata, CA, during the transitional period. In addition, during this period Confluence will rebuild a customer service and credit department for the division in the Easley facility.

Ultimately, Feehan said, the portfolio of brands coming under one company will put Confluence in a position to move the industry forward and address some of the issues of distribution channels. “We haven’t figured out all the details on those issues at this point,” he said.

WaterMark’s land sports division relaunched today (May 12) as Yakima Products, based in Beaverton, Oregon. Though Yakima will now focus its energies completely on the Yakima business, the company will use the existing Watermark trade name through a transition period ending August 31, 2005, to facilitate the handoff of essential business functions to Confluence. Jim Clark, formerly CEO of WaterMark, will assume the title of CEO of Yakima Products, effective immediately.

“Today marks the next phase of growth for Yakima,” said Clark. “With a new management team in place, a state-of-the-art facility, and a clear focus on advancing our products and customer service, we are well-equipped to take the company forward. We plan to utilize our enhanced sales, marketing and product design expertise to engineer superior products that provide an ever-expanding range of gear solutions that seamlessly connect people with their outdoor pursuits.”

The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak

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