Arcapita hangs onto Yakima after selling WaterMark boat division

Following the sale of the WaterMark name and boat division assets to ACS and Confluence Holdings Corp., Arcapita (formerly First Islamic/Crescent Capital) has renamed Yakima to Yakima Products. Although boats and WaterMark are no longer part of the Beaverton, Ore.-based Yakima Products business, the company will continue to use the existing WaterMark trade name until Aug. 31, 2005 while it continues to facilitate the handing off of paddlesports business functions to Confluence.
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Following the sale of the WaterMark name and boat division assets to ACS and Confluence Holdings Corp., Arcapita (formerly First Islamic/Crescent Capital) has renamed Yakima to Yakima Products.

Although boats and WaterMark are no longer part of the Beaverton, Ore.-based, Yakima Products business, the company will continue to use the existing WaterMark trade name until Aug. 31, 2005, while it continues to facilitate the handing off of paddlesports business functions to Confluence.

Jim Clark, formerly CEO of WaterMark, has been named CEO of Yakima Products.

Yakima's executive team includes Amy Buckalter, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Steve Rodden, vice president of product development, and Chris Bogue, director of sales for the western region. Veteran sales director Doug Ragan has been hired by Yakima Products, after being let go by WaterMark prior to the Confluence purchase closing, to continue to manage sales of Yakima product in the eastern region. Mike Steck continues to head up marketing. Yakima also recently hired two other senior executives in finance and human resources. Only 35 of the former WaterMark team based in Arcata before the Portland move have relocated to join the new Portland venture.

"We can now move forward," Clark told SNEWS®. "Despite challenges and related distractions, we have been able to bring in a number of very talented new folk and we have opened up a state-of-the-art facility here in Portland. We have a product development team that I think is second to none, and what they have been working on is really cool, not only for 2006 product categories we are already in, but also for some new opportunities.

"Yakima is in a position where we have a great brand with great distribution and strong support from Arcapita," added Clark. "We are all very excited about the growth potential and Arcapita is giving us the resources to be positioned for that growth over the next three to five years."

Clark indicated that Yakima would certainly be looking to expand its international distribution -- something that the company hasn't really tried to do or been able to do until now. When we asked him about Europe, he indicated that Yakima would be more than happy to compete with Thule there.

Steck has also been hard at work we know, developing a retooled website and a new catalog for spring 2006. We've been told it will be ready for viewing soon.

SNEWS® View: Arcapita acquired Yakima from Kransco in 2001 in a deal that defined the high multiples currently being offered other companies, so it is no surprise that Arcapita wants to hang onto Yakima a while longer and give the rack biz a chance to shine. For the last year, and perhaps a bit longer, Thule has been eating Yakima's lunch, and Yakima has had to sit there and take it, at least publicly, because the company's arms were tied during negotiations. This is not to imply it has been sitting still. The move to Portland, the investment in a third-party warehouse and distribution network, the hiring of several key executives, and the investment in an R&D facility in Portland have been happening. But retailers have had nothing new to talk about for more than a year, and it is time for the company to give them something to talk about. Thule needs a healthy Yakima, as does this industry. But make no mistake, Clark and his team have their work cut out for them. Just playing catch up will be hard enough. Becoming a legendary competitor where retailers and customers are saying "wow" about new products, like they did with the Yakima of old, will be harder still. Not impossible. Just hard. The ball's in your court, Yakima. The industry is waiting to see what you do with it. So is Arcapita, which will likely be looking to flip its investment in, oh, three to five years -- this time for a nice return, unlike the WaterMark deal.

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