Muskegon, Mich. — Rotational molder and thermoformer KL Outdoor LLC will invest $9.2 million and add 153 jobs in Muskegon, following an acquisition in April that makes it the world's largest kayak manufacturer.
The company, which manufactures Sun Dolphin and Future Beach kayaks as well as paddleboards and other sports recreation products, merged with Quebec-based GSC Technologies earlier this year and has chosen Muskegon over a competing Canadian city, according to a news release from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's office.
Muskegon-based KL previously operated under the name Ameriform Inc. The company changed its name in 2016 to focus on its key brands.
Boca Raton, Fla.-based private equity company New Water Capital LP bought KL Outdoor in December from a Detroit-based investor group. New Water then bought GSC Technologies in April from Jason and Robert Farber. Shortly after the acquisition, New Water announced that it was merging the two firms.
KL Outdoor made Sun Dolphin kayaks, while GSC made Future Beach kayaks. GSC was founded in 1982.
According to a report in MiBiz in Grand Rapids, Mich., KL Outdoor made 600,000 kayaks in 2016, up from 28,000 in 2010. The company employed 500 and was growing about 20 percent annually.
GSC outsourced some manufacturing to custom processors, and also made some products in house.
In an April news release announcing the merger, Mark Becker, a partner at New Water Capital, said combining the companies created the only vertically integrated kayak manufacturer with rotational molding, thermoforming and blow molding technologies as well as injection molding capabilities.
In addition to establishing its global headquarters in Muskegon, the company plans to expand its facility there.
The project has been awarded a $765,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The City of Muskegon has offered a 12-year tax abatement valued at $69,000. Workforce development provider, West Michigan Works!, is assisting in hiring and training.