Kayak maker Confluence taking on a broader outdoor products business focus

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Dagger Facebook page Confluence Outdoor Co. rotomolds canoes and kayaks under a variety of brand names, including Dagger.

Canoe and kayak rotational molder Confluence Watersports Co. has a new owner and a new name — Confluence Outdoor Co. — that reflects a broader focus on full-service outdoor recreation.

That means Confluence will compete more directly with competitor Johnson Outdoors Inc., which makes fishing accessories, tents and camp cooking equipment, in addition to rotomolded kayaks and canoes.

Private equity firm J.H. Whitney Capital Partners LLP of New Canaan, Conn., bought Confluence in April from American Capital Ltd., a private equity company in Bethesda, Md.

Terms were not disclosed.

J.H. Whitney, which focuses on middle-market companies, also owns businesses that make outdoor apparel and fishing equipment. The firm began in 1946, making it one of the first U.S. private equity companies.

Confluence has estimated rotomolding-related sales of $47 million, according to Plastics News’ most recent ranking.

Jessica Jordan Confluence is the 11th largest rotational molder in North America according to the latest rankings by Plastics News. The total rotomolding market saw more than $2 billion in sales last year.

American Capital’s investment in Confluence in 2005 supports the company’s acquisition of the Watermark paddle-sports business. Confluence also makes other well-known brands such as Perception and Dagger.

Sue Rechner became president and CEO in 2007, and led the company on a major plant consolidation and modernization strategy. In 2011, Confluence consolidated all its operations in a 300,000-square-foot building in Greenville, S.C., that formerly made television tubes. The company had occupied four buildings in two separate locations.

Confluence also has made major investments in three-arm rotomolding machines, to boost high-volume production of kayaks — large and long parts that are traditionally made on rock ‘n’ roll and clamshell machines.