Garmont has acquired Life-Link Backcountry Travel in a deal that Garmont's president, John Schweizer, told SNEWS® is expected to lead to greater market penetration for both brands. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
SNEWS® first got a sniff of Life-Link being on the market several months ago when company co-owners, John Krisk and John Scott, began shopping the brand through a broker.
Schweizer told us he'd also heard Life-Link was being shopped and contacted Krisk and Scott immediately about an acquisition.
"John and John told me they were both very interested in having Garmont acquire their company and the negotiations began in earnest," Schweizer told us.
While the Life-Link brand has been very proud of its Jackson, Wyo., roots and heritage, it will have to get over that quickly as the warehousing and main offices shift to Garmont's Burlington, Vt., home. Life-Link's Bozeman, Mont., facility will continue to produce poles for Garmont through the fall, at which time, Schweizer said he'll need to decide exactly what to do.
"In the fall, we will be taking over responsibility for production. The next few months will be spent learning the processes, and then we can best decide whether we manufacture here in Vermont, or in Canada, or even overseas," said Schweizer.
As for the logic of the purchase, Schweizer could not be more pleased. Life-Link offers Garmont access to ski and trekking poles, collapsible shovels, packs, avalanche probes, and other related ski accessories, which complement the existing sock, ski boot and hiking boot products.
"We needed to expand our distribution channels. Life-Link is well distributed in specialty outdoor ski shops but not in alpine ski shops. This now gives us the opportunity to open distribution into alpine ski channels," said Schweizer. "It also forces us to get more immersed in the specialty outdoor and ski mountaineering specialty shops, which we can effectively do now that we have a broader product offering."
While acknowledging that Life-Link's trekking pole program is somewhat less than stellar, Schweizer noted that the technology is innovative and very real. With Garmont's expertise in the hiking category, he added, it could be developed into a successful product.
"John and John just haven't put the time or energy into improving on the existing trekking pole line," said Schweizer. "We have the resources and will devote them."
Life-Link product is already on its way to Garmont's distribution facilities, SNEWS® was told. The existing phone numbers and website were also purchased by Garmont, so no outside changes for retailers.
Gordon Bailey will be overseeing the sales force for Life-Link. Schweizer told us the company has made no final decisions on the sales team, other than using its current rep force as much as possible -- apparently, some reps carry G3 which would now be considered a conflict.
As for Scott and Krisk, the two also own Croakies and have indicated that this sale was undertaken to allow them to both refocus efforts on growing the Croakies brand.