J.H. Whitney Exits Confluence Outdoor

Pelican International, a portfolio company of Fonds de solidarité FTQ (Funds FTQ), has acquired Confluence Outdoor, a portfolio company of J.H. Whitney.

Confluence is a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of kayaks, canoes, surf and stand-up paddleboards, and related accessories. Company-owned brand names include Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Mad River Canoe, Harmony Gear, and Boardworks. Confluence has a 300,000-square-foot manufacturing and headquarters facility in Greenville, South Carolina.

Confluence was formed in 1998 through the merger of Wilderness Systems and Mad River Canoe and was acquired by American Capital in 2002. J.H. Whitney acquired the company from American Capital in April 2014.

Pelican International is a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, pedal boats, and fishing boats. The company operates two manufacturing facilities in Laval (headquarters) and in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. Pelican was founded as Eskay Plastics in 1968 by Gérard Élie (the name was changed to Pelican International in 1978) and was purchased by his sons Antoine and Christian Élie in 1995.

“The entire Pelican team, my brother Christian and I are thrilled to welcome the Confluence team to the Pelican family,” said Antoine Élie. “The combination of these two businesses will produce by far the largest and most comprehensive group in the paddle sports space. This paddle sports powerhouse will offer, under the best brands, a complete line-up of products spanning all paddle sports categories, catering to the needs of all types of consumers.”

“The acquisition aims to capitalize on the strengths and capabilities of two synergistic businesses and brands, from the products that make their success to the people that make them shine, in a consolidating and globalizing industry,” said Danick Lavoie, president and CEO of Pelican International. “With more than 800 employees in three manufacturing sites strategically located in North America, an improved distribution network and a strong commitment to innovation, the momentum behind both brands is stronger than ever.”

“Pelican and Confluence are the ideal fit. It’s the optimal union of two industry leaders poised to drive innovation and serve consumers better than ever before. This is very powerful as a force for good for the industry and consumers in general,” said Todd King, vice-president of marketing at Confluence.

J.H. Whitney invests in small and middle-market companies that are active in the consumer, healthcare, specialty manufacturing, and business services sectors. The firm was founded in 1946 and is based in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Funds FTQ, which has been a minority investor in Pelican since December 2015, is a development capital investment fund founded in 1983 by the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ), the largest labor union in Quebec with over 500,000 members.

© 2019 Private Equity Professional | December 20, 2019

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