WaterMark to move key company positions to Portland

WaterMark yesterday offered up the details of what SNEWS® first reported as fact on Oct. 18 in our "Outdoor: Did you hear?" section -- that the company would be moving portions of its business from Arcata, Calif., to Portland, Ore., during the first quarter of 2005. The new headquarters will initially accommodate 20,000 square feet of office and product development space, with room for eventual expansion.
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WaterMark yesterday offered up the details of what SNEWS® first reported as fact on Oct. 18 in our "Outdoor: Did you hear?" section -- that the company would be moving portions of its business from Arcata, Calif., to Portland, Ore., during the first quarter of 2005. The new headquarters will initially accommodate 20,000 square feet of office and product development space, with room for eventual expansion.  

The company announced that sales and marketing, as well as the Yakima and Rhode Gear product management, product development and demand planning teams will move into the new office during the first quarter of 2005, with finance moving later in the year. Customer service, IT, credit and collections, and account receivables will remain in Arcata.

Jim Clark, WaterMark's CEO, told SNEWS®, "We looked at moving the entire company, but we had two fundamental criteria we considered as we made the decision. One was ensuring working relationships between departments by keeping teams together -- which is why the watersports team is all being located in Easley and the land products team is staying together in the move to Portland.

"Two, we looked at where we needed to be to best be able to recruit to fill positions, and we have no trouble at all recruiting excellent staff for customer service positions in Arcata because of our proximity to Humboldt University," he said.

The company decided that customer service should stay in Arcata, and as a result, the related teams such as IT and credit and collections, etc. would stay with them.

WaterMark will be moving 70 of the current 147 positions to Portland with many of the current employees being offered spots filling those positions. Approximately 65 employees will remain in Arcata. It is expected that between 10 and 15 positions will be eliminated as the result of job redundancies and streamlining by the company to improve operational efficiencies, Clark told us.

"We chose Portland to move our headquarters to because it is a great cultural fit with our company and because it has a high concentration of global, world-class recreational companies. We feel strongly that we will be very successful in completing our team and growing our business to achieve the growth plans we put in place last year," added Clark.

As we also reported last week, WaterMark has begun moving all positions relating to the watersports business team to Easley, S.C., the company's East Coast campus. This business team consists of product line managers, a dedicated marketing professional and the product development group.

SNEWS® View: All things being equal, we can see why WaterMark made this move. Consolidating teams -- watersports and the rack business -- into the same geographical locations makes sense. Moving out of Arcata makes sense, too. If you have never been to Arcata, you would have no idea, but believe us when we say, getting in and out of that town is a chore -- not a good place to headquarter a company that has expansion of global distribution aspirations and a need for the executive, design and sales team to be constantly on the go. And, while we do understand keeping the customer service team, IT team and related credit and account receivable functions in Arcata for now -- trying to hire an entirely new customer service staff in a new location would become a logistical nightmare -- we have to wonder how long WaterMark will remain willing to operate essentially three physical locations. California isn't exactly business-friendly after all. Then again, WaterMark does have the pick of a very strong group of customer service folks in Arcata with little competition, and the executive team running the IT, HR and customer service departments is strong -- so perhaps keeping the offices open there does make sense after all.  

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