Aqua-Leisure acquires Airhead Sports Group


A Blackford Capital portfolio company is expanding with the acquisition of a manufacturer of towable marine water sports and winter recreation products.

Avon-Massachusetts-based Aqua-Leisure Recreation recently acquired Denver-based Airhead Sports Group, Blackford Capital announced on Monday, December 6.

Terms of the contract are not disclosed.

The new company’s enhanced global footprint, combined with increased sourcing and distribution capabilities and increased manufacturing, as well as expertise in product development and research and development, will enhance the growth trajectory of Aqua-Leisure and will provide new opportunities to serve its retail customers and position the company for growth in the number of additional omnichannel retailers and wholesale distributors, according to Aqua-Leisure.

“The Airhead family of brands fits naturally into the Aqua-Leisure portfolio,” said Steve Berenson, CEO of Aqua-Leisure. “Our combined product offerings will be able to meet greater consumer demand for a wider range of outdoor recreational activities. We strongly believe in empowering consumers to have fun outdoors, and we are excited to move forward under my leadership with this next phase of growth and innovation with the Airhead team. . “

This is the first follow-on acquisition for Aqua-Leisure since Blackford Capital acquired the company in January 2021. Under Blackford ownership, Aqua-Leisure has seen growth in revenues and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

“This acquisition is an important step in Blackford’s growth strategy for Aqua-Leisure,” said Martin Stein, Founder and Managing Director of Blackford Capital. “The combination of these two companies creates an extremely strong portfolio in the water sports, marine and swimming pools and floats categories, allowing us to generate new growth and long-term profitability. “

Founded in 1991, Airhead Sports Group manufactures outdoor, marine, water sports and winter recreation products under the Airhead, Sportsstuff and Yukon Charlie’s brands. The addition of Airhead’s product portfolio for year-round and seasonal outdoor recreation enthusiasts will present cross-selling opportunities, and the increased volume created by the acquisition will translate into greater sourcing opportunities. and purchasing power, said Airhead Sports Group. Airhead products are distributed to over 60 countries through six main channels.

“For more than 30 years, Airhead Sports Group has designed and distributed the best water sports and winter recreation products available,” said Leland Nichols, President and CEO of Airhead Sports Group. “As part of the Aqua-Leisure portfolio, we will achieve both growth and scale synergies. And by leveraging these complementary capabilities, we will continue to exceed customer and consumer expectations for product quality, innovation and successful on-time delivery, while actively improving our competitive positioning in water sports categories and winter recreation for years to come.

Airhead’s management team will remain intact after the transaction closes. Nichols will become the combined group’s COO, reporting to Berenson, with responsibilities for consolidated business operations and business integration.

Houlihan Lokey served as exclusive financial advisor and White & Case served as legal advisor to Airhead.

Varnum served as legal counsel and Grant Thornton served as financial and tax advisor to Blackford.

Key Bank provided debt financing, and Muzinich & Co. and Capital Dynamics provided debt and equity financing in support of the transaction.

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