After managing MTI Adventurewear for the Takashina family for nearly a decade, paddlesport industry veterans Lili and Gordon Colby purchased the company from them in February. “Signing the final paperwork just after Valentine’s Day was so appropriate for us” explained Lili Colby, head of MTI sales and marketing. “Our relationship as a couple and as business partners has always been intertwined.” Gordon and Lili met almost 20 years ago while working for Mad River Canoe in Waitsfield, Vermont, where Gordon was brand manager for Voyageur (forerunner of Harmony Accessories).
When the company merged with Wilderness Systems to become Confluence Watersports, the couple moved to North Carolina with their newborn son, where Gordon became brand manager of Mad River Canoe and Lili managed the Confluence customer service department. The opportunity to run MTI for the Takashina family brought them back home to New England in 2002, with Gordon as its President and product manager, and Lili overseeing sales, customer service, and marketing.
Founded outside of Boston 20 years ago by Dorothy Takashina with her sons Yoshi and Simon, MTI specializes in the design, production, and distribution of high quality, great value life jackets for paddlesports. But MTI was also part of a much larger family held operation which in 2010 celebrated its 75th anniversary: Takashina Life Preservers Company. Based in Osaka, Japan and with factories in Shanghai and Vietnam, Takashina Life Preservers Company builds life jackets and watersports apparel for companies worldwide. “Running a global manufacturing company took Yoshi Takashina away from MTI on an operational basis 9 years ago, but his heart never left the company” commented Gordon Colby. “The whole family is very attached to the MTI brand, so being able to pass the company on to the people that they have entrusted their business to for years is such a positive for everyone.”
“We’ve always treated MTI as if it were our own business” added Lili, “so now to be able to own it is a dream come true. We’re so fortunate to be able to keep MTI a family owned company, and to continue to grow the business with personal passion behind the brand. And thank goodness without the usual upheaval that tends to accompany many of the paddlesport industry acquisitions.” Colby explains, “We’re not relocating. We’re not laying-off anyone. Our relationship with our factory is strong. It’s business as usual, but with added enthusiasm throughout our organization because we feel in charge of our own destiny. Our people are stoked to see this ownership transition, and we recognize the opportunity for the brand and our customers.”
After first announcing the purchase on the MTI facebook site the day the deal was signed – and enjoying numerous posts of congratulations from industry friends from across the country within 24 hours – the Colby’s plan on hosting a series of celebrations for their dealers at key consumer events this spring and at OR in August after the open air demo. “Seemed like a good excuse to us. A combo Anniversary/Holy Cow, We Bought the Company! Party all rolled into one” mused Lili. After 20 years in business with fresh optimism and focus ahead, the folks at MTI have reason to celebrate.
About MTI Adventurewear
MTI Adventurewear is a leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of USCG approved PFDs for paddlesports, SUP, dinghy sailing, and general recreational boating since 1991. Based in Plympton MA near Cape Cod and the historic town of Plymouth, MTI was purchased by Lili and Gordon Colby from the Takashina family in February 2011. Dedicated to product quality and value, backed by outstanding customer service to their retail partners, the company is a member of PFDMA, OIA, and a supporter of the National Safe Boating Council’s WEAR IT campaign. To learn more about the MTI and the product line visit www.mtiadventurewear.com