BloodSport
Sunday February 19, 2013
Acquisition Season?
Ever since the Feb. 1 announcement of Bushnell Outdoor Products' acquisition of Orem, Utah-based arrow and archery product manufacturer Gold Tip, the rumors of further penetration into the archery industry by Bushnell - and an expanding presence by other companies - has been bubbling like a simmering pot of venison chili throughout the bow-and-arrow network.

We won't even go into detail about some of the potential deals we've been privy to, but let's just say some sound like they could possibly occur, while others are about as likely as an Obama third term.

Even when we asked our longtime friend and trusted outdoor industry veteran Kevin Howard, whose company, Howard Communications, handles media and press for Overland Park, Kan.-based Bushnell if there were any other imminent acquisitions in the works, he admitted he didn't personally know about the Gold Tip deal until the afternoon his company was enlisted to issue the press release.

The Bushnell/Gold Tip agreement was not the first indication there's a movement toward large companies expanding and small companies selling assets in the archery business, it was just the most recent.

In December, Bear Archery announced the purchase of the bowfishing assets of Cajun Archery, including its full-line of cedar and hardwood arrows as well as bowfishing points, reels, reel seats, and complete bowfishing kits. Bear has undergone expansion-through-acquisition in the past decade, adding other companies and products like Rocket Broadheads and Trophy Ridge.

Just days before the 2013 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Trade Show in Louisville, The Outdoor Group, LLC announced something of a trifecta-buy involving Mossback Game Calls, Winner's Choice Custom Bowstrings and Solid Broadhead Company. The multiple purchases added to the existing company holdings that include Elite Archery (bows), Perfect Form Manufacturing (machining), Scott Archery (releases) and Custom Bow Equipment (sights).

A continuing sluggish overall economy and an archery marketplace that is currently dominated by booming sales of youth bows and crossbows (and little else), may explain why some cash-heavy companies are in full-acquisition mode.

Indeed, during the course of making rounds at the ATA Show, The Archery Wire was told by the principals of several major bow manufacturers they were definitely looking for new companies and products to add to their current lineup.

It was communicated without innuendo or subtle assertion.

"We're looking for companies to acquire," was the clear and prevailing message.

And surely, the current economy and relatively flat market in general archery and bowhunting equipment combine to make things increasingly frustrating for the small manufacturer who's trying to survive by selling a limited selection of accessories or products to a finite, non-expanding marketplace.

There's never been a shortage of high quality, well-designed and innovative widgets, gizmos and doodads that archers and bowhunters want to buy and use. It's just getting tougher for the one- or two-man company or similarly small operation to create, produce, market, sell, ship and service a line of products while also turning a reasonable profit.

So, as 2013 progresses, don't be surprised to read more announcements under the "ACQUISITIONS" heading here at The Archery Wire.

Is there a potential blockbuster of a deal involving a high-profile company waiting to happen? Only time will tell.

But are numerous sale/purchase negotiations at all levels of the archery and bowhunting industry underway? Most certainly!

- J.R. Absher
Editor, The Archery Wire

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