One of the largest rec kayak makers in the country has reportedly shuttered its headquarters. As reported in Paddling magazine, on Oct. 30 local news stations in Muskegon, Michigan, reported that Hemisphere Design Works, makers of Evoke, Future Beach and Sun Dolphin recreational kayaks, were shutting down their headquarters, according to a notice filed with the state of Michigan the day before. Layoffs reportedly began the same day.
“The company has been in the process of seeking capital which, if obtained, would have enabled it to avoid or postpone a closure and continue operations. Unfortunately, the company’s efforts have not been successful and the company has unexpectedly learned that the term lender will not provide additional funding,” the kayak maker reportedly said in the notice.
The announcement came two years after industry giants, KL Outdoor and GSC Technologies, merged to form Hemisphere Design Works, estimated by company executives to become the world’s largest maker of kayaks.
“We’re more than just a company of brands,” said former VP of Sales and Marketing Wes Mooney at the time. “Our goal isn’t just to sell more kayaks, it’s to elevate kayaking into the forefront of recreational pastimes, and we are now positioned to make this happen with more production power, better distribution, and the marketing influence to succeed.”
T the time of the merger, company leaders maintained that the existing HDW house of brands currently commanded an industry leading 30 percent of the market, and with a forecast of double-digit growth through 2020. Sun Dolphin manufacturers entry-level rec kayaks sold primarily at big box retailers. Evoke Kayaks are higher-end, retailing at outlets like Cabella’s and Academy Sports. Future Beach kayaks are also carried in big box outlets, including the $219.99, 6’6” Sprinter Junior.
“The creation of Hemisphere Design Works enables us to better position our brands and capitalize on the projected growth over the next two-to-four years,” said CEO Chuck Smith at the time. “Our goal with this merger and repositioning is to not only cement our place as the industry leader, but to also set our company up to generate higher production yields while also expanding our overall distribution capabilities.”
Calls to HDW headquarters were not returned.
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