As of June 1, Watershed USA, which has distributed Nikwax waterproofing products for the past 11 years to the United States as the managing partner of Nikwax USA, and Nikwax UK have officially parted ways. Nikwax USA has been dissolved with all staff remaining employed by Watershed USA.
Nick Brown, owner of the UK-based Nikwax Ltd., has established a new wholly-owned corporation, Nikwax North America, Inc. The Seattle-based company is already up and running and handling all matters concerning Nikwax in North America -- contact it at 206-633-0063.
Brown has tapped Chaz Fisher to be the general manager. Fisher will take the helm on June 21, giving him time to assist his current employer, La Sportiva, in finding a replacement for his now-vacant marketing director position.
Although this decision appeared to come out of the blue, leaving folks to wonder if this had anything to do with Watershed's recent decision to expand into custom fulfillment and back-office support for other companies, Watershed General Manager Mike Curtis told SNEWSÂ® that they had been working on a deal to transition distribution rights to Brown for quite some time now.
"Over the last few years, Nikwax's corporate visions and our corporate visions changed sufficiently to mandate we part ways sooner than later," Curtis told us.
As for what Watershed will be focusing on now, Curtis told us he is very, very excited about further expanding its new business venture -- see our story "Nikwax USA owner Watershed offers fulfillment service" published April 28, 2004.
Curtis did allow that he would not rule out entering into another full distribution agreement with the right partner in the future.
SNEWSÂ® View: As we are apt to do, let's try a little reading between the lines here. Watershed USA is owned by veteran rep Morrie Trautman, Mike Curtis and two other rep agencies based in the east. We can't imagine they'd voluntarily jettison a business that is providing the majority of their revenue without having another fish that tastes just as good if not better already on the hook. And while on the surface the departure appears amicable between Nikwax Ltd. and Watershed, the only way we could imagine Nikwax not wanting a company as experienced as Watershed to continue distributing its goods under a new arrangement is if one or the other felt it was imperative to make a quick change -- we suspect it was Watershed driving the boat here. That said, change for the right reasons is a good thing and we have no doubt that under the new wholly-owned arrangement, Nikwax will continue to prosper and reflect the corporate visions that Nick Brown certainly has for it. Whether Nikwax can continue to dominate the outdoor specialty market as it has under Watershed's guidance (estimates range from Nikwax owning between 70 percent to 80 percent market share in the United States), we expect it will be able to continue as a market leader in the water-based waterproofing category for some time to come. As for Watershed, we'd bet even money that within a month, we'll be hearing that the company has entered into a distribution agreement with a recognizable brand name, but one that is in need of serious distribution and marketing assistance here in the United States. Guesses anyone?