If all goes as planned, Andy Zimmerman, and his newly formed paddlesports company Legacy Paddlesports, will soon become the majority owner of Heritage Kayaks. Hol Whitney, who founded Heritage in 1997, will retain a significant ownership stake in the company and assume the role of chairman. Zimmerman will serve as president and CEO.
In a letter Zimmerman sent to Heritage dealers last week, he said, "I am taking a majority position in Heritage Kayaks. The deal is nearing its final stages and should be wrapped up shortly. The company is healthy and growing. In fact, Heritage has just completed its best ever preseason. In order to support this growth curve and sustain it, Heritage will need to grow its capabilities -- staff, facilities, R&D, marketing, customer service and all the attendant details."
A number of former members of the Confluence team from its Greensboro, N.C., days, have joined Zimmerman. Bill Medlin, former CEO of Confluence, will serve as Legacy's COO, and Mike Hooks has been named vice president of sales. Teresa Pendergrass, most recently Kelley Woolsey's executive assistant at Confluence, is coming onboard as an executive administrator, charged with ensuring all runs smoothly for Zimmerman, Medlin, Hooks and others.
In the dealer letter, and then during a subsequent conversation with SNEWSÂ®, Zimmerman confirmed that he is looking at relocating Heritage, once the deal is finalized, to Greensboro.
While the Heritage factory was at one time state of the art, Zimmerman told us, "The availability of a newer facility that can meet Legacy's planned growth, much lower costs of doing business, the availability of large numbers of trained paddlesports staff (thanks to Confluence's departure), and the possibility of significant business incentives compel us to examine the opportunity."
"If we do make a decision to move to North Carolina, all of Heritage's full-time employees will be offered employment and assistance with moving costs, should they choose to join us," Zimmerman stated in his dealer letter. "Those who do come will be partnered with some of the most talented people this industry has produced. I have been amazed and heartened by the enthusiastic response to my inquiries. The team we have put together has the experience and passion to achieve great things."
Zimmerman also confirmed that Heritage will be but one of the brands in the Legacy Paddlesports' portfolio. The company is currently developing and designing another brand of boats that will debut at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
SNEWSÂ® View: We will have a full story on the Heritage acquisition when the deal is final and the ink drying on the contracts, which Zimmerman tells us should happen within the next two weeks. Back in mid January, when we first got wind acquisition discussions might be heating up, we contacted Zimmerman, and he sent us the following email: "Heritage Kayaks and Andy Zimmerman, former CEO of Confluence Watersports, are exploring areas of mutual opportunity. At present additional comments would not be appropriate." We knew then that since Zimmerman had been off Confluence's board of directors and also was no longer bound by a non-compete agreement, it would not be long before his toes were back in the water, and we also knew that companies had been contacting him to test the water temperature. It's good to see Zim back in the game, and even better to see a person we considered to be one of the classiest paddlesport CEO's we'd had the pleasure of meeting, Bill Medlin, back in the game as well.