Aqua-Leisure Recreation Continues Year of Growth With Acquisition of Airhead Sports Group
Add-on acquisition, the first under Blackford Capital ownership, pairs the top two brands in marine towables and pool floats; positions new, combined company for growth across omni-channel retail outlets and wholesale distribution
AVON, Mass., and DENVER, Dec. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Aqua-Leisure Recreation, LLC, a pioneer in water sport leisure product development and aquatic goods and the #1 brand in pool hammocks and lounges, announced today the acquisition of Denver, Colorado-based Airhead Sports Group. With the acquisition of Airhead, the #1 brand in the marine towable watersports and winter leisure activity product categories, Aqua-Leisure becomes the premier market leader within the aquatics consumer products industry.
The new company's enhanced global footprint combined with expanded sourcing and distribution capabilities and increased manufacturing, as well as product development and R&D expertise, will enhance Aqua-Leisure's already impressive growth trajectory; delivering new opportunities that better serve its blue-chip retail customers and position the company well for growth in additional omni-channel retailers and wholesale distributors.
"The Airhead family of brands is a natural fit for the Aqua Leisure portfolio," said Steve Berenson, CEO, Aqua-Leisure. "Our combined product offerings will be able to satisfy greater consumer demand for a wider range of outdoor recreational activities. We are big believers in empowering consumers to experience all the fun that can be had outdoors, and we're excited to move forward under my direction with this next phase of growth and innovation with the Airhead team."
This is the first add-on acquisition for Aqua-Leisure since Blackford Capital acquired the company in January 2021. Under Blackford's ownership, Aqua-Leisure has experienced remarkable growth in both revenue and EBITDA. Driven by Aqua's robust product offering, salesmanship and advanced global sourcing acumen which allowed for on-time deliveries despite the massive supply chain issues faced during the pandemic, the company recorded significant growth in both e-commerce and traditional retail channels.
"This acquisition is a significant step in Blackford's growth strategy for Aqua-Leisure," said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. "Bringing these two companies together creates an extremely strong portfolio across watersports, marine, and pool and float categories, allowing us to drive new growth and long-term profitability."
Founded in 1991, Airhead Sports Group manufactures market-leading outdoor, marine, watersports and winter leisure products under the brand names Airhead, Sportsstuff and Yukon Charlie's. The addition of Airhead's portfolio of innovative products for the year-round and seasonal outdoor recreation enthusiast will present strong cross-selling opportunities, and the increased volume created by this acquisition will result in tremendous opportunities in sourcing and purchasing power. Airhead products are distributed across 60+ countries through six core channels.
"For more than 30 years, Airhead Sports Group has designed and distributed the finest watersports and winter leisure products available," said Leland Nichols, President and CEO of Airhead Sports Group. "As part of the Aqua-Leisure portfolio, we will realize both growth and scale synergies. And by optimizing these complementary capabilities, we will continue to exceed customer and consumer expectations for product quality, innovation, and successful on-time-delivery as we actively improve our competitive positioning within the watersports and winter leisure categories for years to come."
The existing leadership team at Airhead will remain intact following the transaction close. Leland Nichols will become Chief Operating Officer, of the combined group reporting to Steve Berenson, CEO, with responsibilities for operations of the consolidated business and corporate integration.
Houlihan Lokey served as exclusive financial advisor and White & Case LLP served as legal advisor to Airhead. Varnum LLP served as legal advisor and Grant Thornton served as the financial and tax advisor to Blackford. Key Bank provided debt financing and Muzinich & Co. and Capital Dynamics provided debt and equity financing in support of the transaction.
About Aqua-Leisure Founded in 1970, Aqua-Leisure is dedicated to designing, developing, manufacturing, and marketing high quality, performance-based aquatic products, and pool accessories under a variety of brand names and proprietary designs including Aqua Pro, Aqua, Aqua Fitness, Dolfino and SwimSchool. Aqua-Leisure's brand pillars of quality, accessibility and adventure push its goal of providing top-tier products for athletes, water lovers, adventure seekers, children and more. For more information, visit aqualeisure.com.
About Airhead Sports Group Founded in 1991, Airhead Sports Group is a designer, distributor and supplier of outdoor branded products for recreational water sports and winter sports markets. Its products include towable tubes, tow ropes, life jackets, pool floats and loungers, marine accessories, snowshoes, trekking poles, and snow sleds.
About Blackford Capital Founded in 2010, Blackford Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blackford Capital makes majority control investments in founder and family-owned, lower middle-market manufacturing, industrial and distribution companies. Currently, Blackford Capital has twelve portfolio companies. Blackford and their team members have received a number of recognitions over the past several years, including M&A Adviser Private Equity Firm of the year, Corp. Magazine Small Company of the Year (Michigan), GR Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year (West Michigan), numerous recognitions on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing private companies list and M&A Adviser Private Equity Professional of the Year (Martin Stein). For more information, visit www.blackfordcapital.com.