Bending Branches acquires Aqua-Bound

Bending Branches, based in Osceola, Wis., completed the acquisition of Aqua-Bound Technology based in Surrey, B.C., Canada. The deal closed on December 17, and the terms were not announced.

Making official what SNEWS® had heard rumored weeks ago, Bending Branches, based in Osceola, Wis., completed the acquisition of Aqua-Bound Technology based in Surrey, B.C., Canada. The deal closed on December 17, and the terms were not announced.

Joe Matuska, founder of Aqua-Bound, told SNEWS® that he will be staying on for at least two years to help ensure the transition is smooth and to get back into focusing on what he really enjoys, designing and testing product, not pushing paper.

Matuska told us that Ed Vater, president of Bending Branches, approached him during the 2008 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. “Ed’s always coming by, checking the latest products and visiting. This time, he asked if I might be interested in selling.”

Vater added that what he saw in Aqua-Bound, beyond just high-quality product is a similar culture and a commitment to excellent product and service. “We both feel that an independent and privately owned business that is not beholden to stock holders is able to provide a personal touch missing from many businesses,” said Vader. He added that during the due-diligence process, it became evident that Aqua-Bound was not utilizing all of the capacity of its injection molding machines either, which is something that will be maximized with the new merged companies.

And, as Matuska pointed out, this is a very good thing for Aqua-Bound retailers in terms of getting product more efficiently too. “With all manufacturing and distribution being done from the Midwest, I can reach any retailer with 3-day UPS ground, whereas to reach customers on the East coast for us now takes a week and a day.”

Aqua-Bound will be transitioning all customer service, sales and manufacturing operations to the Bending Branches headquarters in Wisconsin between January and July 2009. Overall, approximately 24 folks will lose their jobs in Canada as a result, and conversely, 24 or more new jobs will be added to the Bending Branches payroll.

“A transition team will be working with Aqua-Bound to ensure that customer service, manufacturing and quality control remain at the highest standard,” Gregg Gunderman, sales manager for Bending Branches, told SNEWS. He added that the company fully expects to retain the same rep force to ensure continuity.

“Our stock levels of Aqua-Bound product are high, and we recognize that anyone in the industry looking at this deal will be doing so with an eye to how we perform,” said Gunderman. “If we screw up, they will notice it right away and let us know. We are doing everything to make sure our retailers are exceedingly happy.”

Bending Branches, known for its high-end wood paddles, has been manufacturing canoe and kayak paddles since 1982. Aqua-Bound, credited as the first company to utilize gas-assist injection molding technology in the manufacture of kayak paddles, has been manufacturing kayak paddles since 1991.

--Michael Hodgson

SNEWS® View: We checked in with a few top paddlesports retailers around the country who echoed our sentiments – great merger of two fantastic brands! For years now, both have been recognized for manufacturing and shipping great products. Both have set a very high bar for customer service excellence, and typically meet or exceed it each year. One retailer told us, “This is great for the industry and retailers. They are two fantastic companies making competing products in a very crowded market. Now, instead of two smaller checks, I get to write one big check.”

For the history buffs in the crowd, prior to Aqua-Bound, Matuska founded Nimbus Kayaks in 1974, selling it to his partner in 1990 before taking a year off and then launching Aqua-Bound.

We’re sure Bruce at Werner is still picking himself up off the floor on this one, but all things considered, this will likely have little effect on Werner’s business. Others in the paddle business – well, we’re not so sure.

--SNEWS Editors



Bending Branches and Aqua-Bound consolidate rep force

Just over six months after the acquisition of Aqua-Bound (click here to read the Dec. 18 SNEWS story), Bending Branches has restructured its rep force, resulting in some reps getting walking papers while others now have two paddle brands to peddle. SNEWS® began receiving calls more

Gregg Gunderman joins Bending Branches

Bending Branches is pleased to announce the appointment of Gregg Gunderman as Sales & Marketing Manager. Gregg brings a great deal of industry knowledge in both in sales and operations from his previous 8 years with Johnson Outdoors, most recently as the General Manager of more

Bending Branches Announces New SPLASH! Kids Kayak Paddle

Responding to demand for a true kids kayak paddle at an affordable price, Bending Branches Inc. has introduced the Splash. “Our entire industry understands the importance of bringing young people into the sport,” says Bending Branches Sales Manager Gregg Gunderman. ”Our more and Outward Bound partnership solid

It has been two years since and Outward Bound quietly inked a deal that named Altrec as Outward Bound's online retail partner and from all appearances, the relationship continues to gain strength. Craig Trames, director of Pacific Crest Outward Bound School (PCOBs is more

Bending Branches Introduces the Kayak Kickstand

Bending Branches, a leader in paddle sports, introduces the all-new innovative Kayak Kickstand. This revolutionary accessory was introduced at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in August and meets the needs of both recreational and advanced kayakers. The Kickstand simply more

Aquabound/Bending Branches Joins Grassroots as a Vendor Partner

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (Grassroots) is pleased to announce that Aquabound/Bending Branches has joined our organization as a Vendor Partner. Since their first kayak paddle dipped into the Canadian waters in 1991, Aqua-Bound has occupied a special place among paddlers. In more

Salomon To Acquire Arc'Teryx

Finally confirming what will be remembered as perhaps the worst kept secret in the history of outdoor industry acquisitions, Salomon today officially announced the agreement to purchase Vancouver, Canada-based Arc'Teryx has been signed. The deal is expected to be final in early more

Outdoor: Did you hear?… Winter Trails attracts new sponsors, plus XML, Columbia, Redfeather, Bending Branches, Cloudveil, Zoot, Julbo, and more...

For the week of Oct. 4-10 >> Karhu and Nature Valley granola bars have been added to the sponsor roster of Winter Trails, a program that offers those new to snowsports an opportunity to try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing free at nearly 100 locations throughout North more

Canada's Fitness Source acquired by Forzani Group, expansion plotted

In an effort to branch further into the fitness arena, the Forzani Group has acquired the Fitness Source's nine retail locations in Ontario, Canada. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "We are looking forward to building a strong national chain within the next 48 months," Tom more