Jim Heiden, Tekos CEO and founder, has left the company as Anatom Ltd.-Tekos new UK-based distributor-acquires a majority stake. Tekos VP of operations, Owen Hammond, has been named GM in a move to ensure “a smooth ownership transition.”
Although Hammond would not disclose the size of Anatoms stake in Teko, he reports that Anatoms investment and expertise are designed “to take the brand to the next level” as Teko continues to see growing momentum in the specialty sports, outdoor, comfort footwear and natural products markets.
Hammond also points out that Teko saw 40 percent growth over the past year, helped by increased distribution to REI and MEC, and new independent retailers. That growth required more capital support to meet demand and properly service customers. Specifically, Teko will use the investment to increase on-hand inventories, accelerate product development, and strengthen back-end systems for improved customer service and market penetration.
“Once you start getting bigger, your infrastructure gets bigger and it just takes more capital,” Hammond remarks. He also suggests that Teko will benefit from Anatoms management team, which has expertise in the outdoor and footwear markets and a track record of growing small companies in niche markets.
Since January, Anatom has been Tekos distributor for Europe, and has also distributed Superfeet insoles and The Brannock Device in the UK and Ireland for 14 years. Anatom expanded its distribution of The Brannock Device to include the whole of Europe four years ago. Anatom distributed SmartWool socks in the UK and Ireland for the past six years until that arrangement ended at the close of last year.
According to Hammond, Anatom, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, shares Tekos views regarding sustainability. The shared principles will enable Teko to continue its mission of providing high-end technical performance socks with a minimal level of impact on the planet.
“We have great integrity around the environment and sustainability and thats really been key to our growth,” says Hammond, who is also involved with OIAs Eco Working Group. “There are three tiers to sustainability-planet, people and product-and we need to maintain that commitment.”
Heiden, who founded Teko in 2004, recalls that when the opportunity became available, he thought it was a good time to leave, knowing that the company would be left in good hands.
“Anatom will bring the capital needed to take Teko to the next level, and [will provide] sales and management expertise,” says Heiden. “Anatom will provide Teko with a huge growth opportunity in Europe.”
While Heiden plans to take some time off, he admits that he might wind up working in the outdoor industry again. “Ive been in the industry for 37 years, so theres a good chance thats where Ill end up,” he remarks.
As Hammond recalls, Heiden told him it was “just time” to go at this stage in Tekos development. “Jims an entrepreneur and a great visionary, and he had taken Teko through its first stage of growth,” says Hammond. “Jim basically felt that hed taken Teko as far as he could in the CEO position.”
Anatom has no plans to fill the CEO post, and Hammond will continue to run Teko from Boulder, CO. Hammond points out that Anatom will focus on driving Tekos growth in Europe, and will also help with the companys U.S. strategy.
“I have a phenomenally strong team of people here in Boulder and with Anatoms help, I see us being able to grow and expand,” says Hammond.