Massif Mountain Gear, a manufacturer of flame-resistant technical apparel based in Ashland, Ore., has been acquired by Tactical Holdings, a global provider of military and tactical footwear, and its equity partner, Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm that manages more than $8 billion in capital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Silver Steep Partners, a financial advisory firm specializing in the specialty outdoor and active lifestyle market, served as the exclusive financial advisor to Massif (www.massif.com).
"Massif is very excited about the possibilities afforded to us through the partnership with Golden Gate Capital and Tactical Holdings," said Jeff Roberts, Massif's co-founder and CEO. "This relationship will help us accelerate our growth initiatives, while also maintaining the technical and product leadership that has defined our organization."
Lee Ferguson, CEO of Tactical Holdings, said, "We are pleased to welcome Massif to the Tactical Holdings family. Over nearly a decade, Massif has demonstrated impressive innovation and technical performance, while serving as one of the true pioneers in the FR military apparel industry. We are enthusiastic about working closely with Massif's talented employees to continue serving the company's exceptional customer base."
"Massif is a marquee brand supported by a consistent history of high-quality service and operations," said Ken Diekroeger, a managing director for Golden Gate Capital. "This is an important investment for Tactical Holdings and demonstrates Golden Gate Capital's commitment to building a strategically significant player in the tactical apparel and accessories industry."
SNEWS® View: While many in the outdoor industry might not be familiar with Massif, this acquisition is worth noting for a number of reasons. First, Massif started in 1999 as a company looking to transform outdoor apparel into flame-resistant apparel, per government mandates, with the same weather/moisture-management properties of leading outdoor brands but with the added functionality to meet the needs of wildfire firefighters and smoke jumpers. One of the company's founders was a member of the Grand Teton National Park Jenny Lake Rangers search-and-rescue team.
Second, Massif works closely with another well-known outdoor brand, Outdoor Research, providing that company with fire-retardant fabric technology (Massif was the first to create fire-retardant fabrics that stretch) that it can use in building technical gloves. Dan Nordstrom, CEO of Outdoor Research, told us that by encasing Lycra, Massif has managed to create a truly unique fabric that, in many ways, offers soft shell performance with fire-retardant attributes. While developed for the military, it is not lost on outdoor industry peers that this fabric technology is ideal for the forest service and anyone who may come into contact with flames and heat.
Third, Massif has and continues to be successful because it is an apparel designer and manufacturer, as well as a leading fabrics supplier. While Nomex, manufactured by DuPont, was the gold standard for fire-retardant fabric, it is primarily fleece and very stiff and hot to wear. Massif worked from both a technical science standpoint and an end-user's perspective to develop its own fabrications, such as Halo, which essentially encapsulates a fire-retardant chemical in a fiber that is released when it encounters extreme heat.
There are numerous other players in the fire-retardant fabrics market, including TenCate's Defender M, DuPont's Nomex, PolarMax's XGO for the military and Flame Resistant Organizational Gear (also known as FROG), as well as Dri Fire chemical-retardant treatments for fabrics. However, Massif has carved a very unique niche.
Insiders tell us that they expect more outdoor companies to develop unique product for the military as the Department of Defense continues to evolve and look increasingly to the world of mountaineers, climbers and adventure racers to help them design and create products that keep troops comfortable and protected.