Igloo Products Corp. has been acquired by J.H. Whitney & Co., a private equity firm based in New Canaan, CT that also owns a major stake in Eastern Mountain Sports. Gary Kiedaisch, previously CEO of the Coleman Company and a 35-year industry veteran, will become chairman of the companys board of directors.
According to Kiedaisch, the process of acquiring Igloo began in November 2007. “Igloo is an extraordinary brand that has never had dark days, has never gone through bankruptcy or experienced product problems.”
The recent roller coaster ride in the stock market did not derail the purchase plan. Kiedaisch says, “Although we had solid financing throughout the negotiations, uncertainties in the market slowed the process. We closed [the purchase] the day after the worst fall in the stock market in history.”
With revenues just over $200 million annually, Igloo reports that approximately three in every four U.S. households owns an Igloo cooler. Consumer research reports Playmate is the most recognized cooler product line in the U.S. The company, the dominant market share leader in the cooler segment, sells more than 500 different products through a distribution network of more than 250 retailers in the United States and around the world.
Igloos broad distribution platform including mass, specialty, food and drug, marine, garden, premium, medical and construction markets offers additional opportunities for growth domestically and internationally. Kiedaisch says, “Its a property we can expand into new fields of play as well as a platform company for add-on acquisitions that can be integrated into Igloo.”
In a published statement, Jim Morley, president and CEO of Igloo said, “this is an exciting time for Igloo Products Corp., and its associates. With a 62-year history of innovation, Igloo has long been the leader in our industry-a position that we believe will be strengthened with this transaction. Our consumers and retail partners will see an accelerated focus on and expansion of innovative new products with the support provided by our new owners.”
Paul Vigano of J.H. Whitney & Co. added, “J.H. Whitney is committed to investing in product development, expanding into new categories and growing the Igloo brand worldwide. We are excited to begin working with the Igloo team and believe that the Company will benefit from J.H. Whitneys vast consumer products experience and deep financial resources.”
Approaching a holiday season where consumers lack of confidence in the economy may significantly reduce spending, Kiedaisch points out that the majority of Igloos sales take place in the second and third quarters. Looking ahead to Spring 2009, he says, “In general we dont see an adverse impact in coolers. Our prime season starts in May. Thats a full 6 months away from all this drama. I assume we will see a [more] stable environment.”
Kiedaisch, chairman of the companys board of directors, will bring his previous experience as CEO and President of competitor Coleman Company, which he left abruptly last fall. He has also served as chairman, CEO and president of Bauer Nike Hockey Inc., CEO of sports eyewear company Bolle Inc and CEO of Stowe Mountain Resorts. “Ive always been able to find a way to grow the category. Thats something I look forward to doing with this company.”