Blackford Capital announced an investment in Aqua-Leisure Industries, known for its water sport leisure products.

Headquartered outside of Boston, Aqua-Leisure was founded in 1970 and primarily serves the aquatic consumer products industry. The company is one of the largest designers of swim goggles, “Learn to Swim” products for children and pool floats, among other categories.

“Aqua-Leisure has appealed to premier sporting goods and value channel consumers throughout our 50-year history. Our organization’s overall approach to market assessment, product design, supply chain logistics, and product positioning, whether through brick & mortar or e-commerce channels, has consistently delivered a robust performance,” said Steve Berenson, CEO, Aqua-Leisure. “We serve some of the largest and most demanding customers in the world. We are excited about our partnership with Blackford Capital as it will create accelerated growth opportunities through expansion of current relationships and product lines as well as evolving new categories and sales channels.”

In a statement, Blackford said Aqua-Leisure’s execution and growth through COVID-19 enhanced its credibility with existing and prospective customers. Blackford intends to assist Aqua-Leisure to seize the opportunities to gain market share and capitalize on key industry trends, including consumer demand through e-commerce and online sales channels. The company’s management team will continue in its current roles.

“We are thrilled to add Aqua-Leisure to our portfolio as another diversified consumer products business with a vision for continued evolution,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director, Blackford Capital. “The company has impressive and decades-long relationships with excellent customers, which have strengthened recently as Aqua-Leisure’s products have experienced tremendous consumer demand for backyard use and ‘staycations’ driven by the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. Throughout this period, Aqua-Leisure has proven itself to be an incredibly reliable partner and supplier. We are excited to partner with Steve Berenson and the rest of the Aqua-Leisure management team to promote organic growth, pursue new distribution opportunities, and execute meaningful add-on acquisitions over the coming years.”

Varnum LLP served as legal advisor, Grant Thornton served as the financial and tax advisor and Rush Street served as debt financing advisor to Blackford. Mercantile Bank provided debt financing and Muzinich & Co. provided debt and equity financing in support of the transaction.

Aqua-Leisure was advised by Tully & Holland and Jon Pratt, Managing Director at Duff & Phelps.

Photo courtesy Aqua-Leisure