Tom Dempsey steps away from Liquidlogic

Tom Dempsey, co-founder and president of 3-year-old Liquidlogic, has resigned from the company.
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Tom Dempsey, co-founder and president of 3-year-old Liquidlogic, has resigned from the company.

Steve Jordan, vice president of sales for the company, contacted SNEWS® to inform us of Dempsey's decision to leave and to assure us that no other changes were imminent at the company.

"We've been in a restructuring and reorganizing mode for the last few months as a result of our phenomenal growth," Jordan told us. "Our sales grew by 50 percent last year and our dealer base doubled."

Jordan told us there are no plans to replace Dempsey's position immediately, and that his job responsibilities would be parceled out among the remaining company leaders -- Bryon Phillips, head of R&D; Shane Benedict and Allen Stancil, both in charge of new product design; Woody Callaway, head of marketing; Sarah Ashworth, in charge of company day-to-day operations; and, of course, Jordan, in charge of sales.

Pete Connors, president of Remcon Plastics, and the other person credited as co-founder of Liquidlogic, will continue as managing partner of the company. Remcon Plastics, based in Pennsylvania, manufactures Liquidlogic's boats.

SNEWS View: First, let's set a bit of the record straight. We spoke with Dempsey years ago, after his departure from Perception as the company's director of product development, and right before he launched Liquidlogic in 2000, and to give credit where credit is due, Dempsey alone was the founder of the ideology and vision for his company. Connors is not a paddler, but certainly shared in Dempsey's passion when Dempsey brought him the idea, and as a result, Connors became the first investor. Connors knows plastics. Dempsey knows paddling and its culture. It certainly looked like the perfect partnership. In pulling the Dempsey note file (scary, we know), it was clear to us when we spoke with him in 1999-2000 that Dempsey had a passion for sharing his vision, his ideas and his success. He wanted to include and reward employees with ownership in a company, not just a paycheck. Indeed, when we spoke to Dempsey at Summer Market 2003, he was as excited and pumped up about the company and its future as he was when he launched the company in 2000. We would surmise, though no one would confirm this on the record, that Dempsey left only because his ideals were no longer meshing with the business direction the other owners of the company were considering. We would also surmise that as Dempsey, true to his nature, began to include more folks in the ownership structure of the company, he began to lose control of a vision he believed in. It is likely that Remcon owns the largest slice of the investment pie, so perhaps there was influence coming from that end Dempsey did not like? We may never know. Liquidlogic has been on a fantastic roll and this industry needed and still needs that company's independent passion and vision as well as superb product. But we do offer a cautionary note here. Though Dempsey, by choice, took a back seat to the success of Liquidlogic, preferring to see others gain credit for company deeds, most folks we have spoken with agree that it was his passion, his vision and his leadership that brought the company and its talented team this far. We trust that Pete Connors and Remcon will not forget that passion and culture are what make a company such as Liquidlogic successful. Short-term decisions for short-term profits or market-share grabs often turn into cold winds that chill a company's heart and leave specialty retailers looking somewhere else for inspiration to heat up sales.

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