KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies expands in Michigan

New Water Capital portfolio company KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies will base its corporate and manufacturing operations in Muskegon, Mich., generating 153 jobs and a total $9.2 million in new investment in the region, company CEO Chuck Smith announced this week, alongside Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and officials representing state and local economic development agencies.

Governor Snyder praised KLO/GSC for its decision to establish its corporate headquarters and expand operations in the city of Muskegon.

“KL Outdoor/GSC’s decision to establish its global headquarters and expand here rather than in another location means good jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the state’s manufacturing talent,” Snyder said. “KL Outdoor’s merger with Quebec-based GSC Technologies makes the company the largest kayak manufacturer in the world, and we can’t think of a better place for that company to be than right here in the Great Lakes State.”

The company’s new global headquarters will be located in Muskegon’s pyramid-shaped Terrace Point office building at 700 Terrace Point Drive.

The expansion of the KLO/GSC corporate headquarters will accommodate new growth resulting from the company merger and improved efficiencies, said New Water Capital partner Jason Neimark. The company chose the Michigan site over a competing site in Quebec, Canada.

“The headquarters and plant expansion has received tremendous support from the state of Michigan and the local community,” Neimark said. “We have tremendous confidence that our investment in the state and in Muskegon will pay off for our company in a stronger, better-run operation and for the people of Michigan in jobs and economic growth.”

The KLO/GSC expansion project received a $765,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“We applaud KLO/GSC’s commitment to Michigan and look forward to working with the company as it continues to expand in the outdoor water sports market,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers the MSF grant program. “With more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline, Michigan is a natural fit for the largest paddle sports company in the world.”

The City of Muskegon also has pledged its support for the project with a 12-year tax abatement, valued at $69,000. Workforce development agency West Michigan Works! has offered hiring and training assistance. Individuals interested in careers with KLO Holdings should visit www.kloutdoor.com.

Muskegon Area First worked with the merged company in collaboration with the MEDC to support KLO/GSC in expanding locally rather than relocating to another state or country.

“The company’s 30+ year history, combined with a great workforce and ideal coastal location on Lake Michigan made this the perfect choice for the company’s headquarters” said Ed Garner, president and CEO at Muskegon Area First.

“KL has strategically grown into a world leader in design and production of outdoor recreational products, and it’s fitting that their home will continue to be in one of Michigan’s premier waterfront communities, on the shores of Muskegon Lake and just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan,” said Muskegon Mayor Steve Gawron. 

Smith expressed appreciation for the state and local support for the corporate expansion project. “Local and state leadership has continuously demonstrated commitment and support of our mutual interests and growing partnership,” he said. “We are extremely excited about the short and long-term prospects for this combined enterprise, which will continue to benefit from the fast-growing paddle sports business. We are also excited to continue to call Muskegon home and anticipate the office move to the lakeshore site to be a great benefit to our dedicated employees.”

Affiliates of New Water Capital completed investments in KL Outdoor in December 2016 and GSC Technologies on April 7, 2017. The two companies announced their merger in April, which they said created the world’s largest kayak maker. The combined company manufactures kayaks, standup paddleboards, canoes, paddle boats, hunting blinds, sleds, storage products, outdoor furniture and portable restrooms under the Sun Dolphin, Future Beach, Evoke, Extent, Equinox, Patriot, Heritage, Viper and Third Coast brands (all related to the company’s water sports segment), Terrain (outdoor hunting products) and Five Peaks (portable restroom products) brands.

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