Jon Caplan has probably eaten more little bags of Southwest Airlines
snack mix than he cares to count. As president and CEO of Hi-Tec Sports
for the last three years, he has commuted from his home near Nashville,
Tenn. every week -- via Southwest -- to Hi-Tec's central California
With his resignation effective Dec. 31, Caplan will step from the ranks
of frequent flyer to being an at-home father and husband as he looks
for his next entrepreneurial challenge.
"I've been thinking about this a long time," Caplan, who announced his
resignation Monday, told SNEWSÂ® . "Things at the company are going great,
and that makes it a much easier time to leave. I want to get back on
track and do something more entrepreneurial. It seemed like a good time
at the end of the year to pursue these things."
Caplan said he had been interested in leading a management buyout of
the then-public Hi-Tec Sports North America when he discussed coming
aboard the Modesto, Calif.-based company three years ago. Although it
became clear before he started that owner and Chairman Frank van Wezel
was not going to sell, Caplan started with Hi-Tec anyway to help
turnaround the company.
During Caplan's tenure, he built an experienced sales and management
team and overhauled Hi-Tec's operational infrastructure to focus on
customer service and programs. The brand has been nominated twice for
Outdoor Footwear Brand of the Year award in the last two years by
Footwear+ magazine. Previously, Caplan was president of Stride Rite
Children's Group and of the Kids division of Stride Rite.
Van Wezel, the company's founder, took the company private late last
year after initiating a public offering 14 years ago on the London
Stock Exchange. The company's worldwide headquarters are in the United
"I am very grateful for Jon's strong leadership in restoring our
company's brands and the health of our company's largest subsidiary,"
van Wezel said in a statement. "While Jon and I will no longer be
working together, we will always remain friends. If he wants to startup
a new company or lead a buyout of an existing one, I have offered to be
his first investor."
In fact, those are two options Caplan lists as possibilities in his
future -- starting a company, or buying one out. He said he wants more
direct ownership of a business. Meanwhile, at Hi-Tec no plans have been
made for an immediate successor. Van Wezel will serve as interim CEO.