Kayak manufacturer Hemisphere Design Works is laying off at least 68 workers and shutting down its headquarters operation in Muskegon, Mich., according to a notice filed with the state.
Hemisphere Design Works, formerly KL Outdoor LLC, does rotational molding and thermoforming of kayaks, paddleboards and other sports recreation products. The company once employed more than 200 people at the Muskegon factory, according Plastics News ranking data and published reports about the closing.
Company officials could not be reached for comment. But the company filed a notice with the state of Michigan on Oct. 29, detailing the closing of KLO Holdings, doing business as Hemisphere Design Works. Operations in Muskegon will close by Dec. 29. Layoffs began the same date the WARN paperwork was filed.
"The company has been in the process of seeking capital which, if obtained, would have enabled it to avoid or postpone a closure and continue operations. Unfortunately, the company's efforts have not been successful and the company has unexpectedly learned that the term lender will not provide additional funding," the kayak maker said in the notice.
The abrupt closing came about two years after the company announced a $9.2 million investment and plans to hire 153 people in Muskegon.
In 2017, New Water Capital LP, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private equity company, bought Muskegon-based KL Outdoor from a Detroit-based investor group. New Water then bought Canadian kayak producer GSC Technologies. The private equity firm merged the two firms to create Hemisphere Design Works.
At the time, a New Wave official said combining KL and GSC created the only vertically integrated kayak manufacturer with rotomolding, thermoforming, blow molding and injection molding capabilities. Hemisphere Design Works claimed to be world's largest maker of kayaks, with 30 percent of the market through its brands including Sundolphin, Evoke, Future Beach and Terrain. Those brands include kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, dinghies, paddleboards, fishing boats, hunting blinds and sleds.
Plastics News' most recent ranking data reported Hemisphere Design Works generated estimated thermoforming-related sales of $35 million and an estimated $12 million in rotomolding sales.
Jim Fox replaced Chuck Smith as Hemisphere's CEO earlier this year.