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The Klim – Polaris Story

 

A little over a decade ago, Idaho native; Justin Summers, founded a start-up clothing company in the small town of Rigby, ID branded as Klim. The Klim brand catered to the snowmobile and off-road motorcycle market and, with good management, enjoyed expansive and global growth.

Yesterday, powersports giant; Polaris Industries purchased Klim for an undisclosed amount with the acquisition announced on the New York Stock Exchange. The incredible growth and sale represents an almost fairytale story of successful American Capitalism. Whilst the acquisition may have large financial implications for certain people and the organizations involved, we wanted to know how the acquisition affects us as snowmobilers.  We sat down with Klim founder and President Justin Summers to ask a few questions.

Summers told us that the acquisition of Klim is primarily a financial arrangement that will bring additional funding allowing continued growth of the Klim brand.  Summers said that growth is expensive and with current taxes (and impending tax increases) Klim needed financial help to continue to grow quickly. Summers had been looking for help and acknowledged that a financial partner was necessary in order to allow Klim to maintain their brand and the expansion of their product line.  The added incentive was the ability to make a long-term commitment to current Klim employees and the contribution of jobs within the local community.  The Polaris acquisition was brings solid financial backing to Klim and meets Summers criteria. Part of the acquisition includes the construction of a Polaris “Center of Excellence” in Rigby next door to Klims current facility; this “Center of Excellence” will develop clothing for all Polaris divisions. Summers also mentioned the development of a program that would cater to clothing for military applications.

When asked how the acquisition by Polaris will affect Klim; Summers clearly stated that Klim is un-changed and the company will operate independently of Polaris. Summers mentioned a firewall that would exist between the two companies, allowing Klim and Polaris to continue building their own independent brands. Summers also stated that there will not be co-branded Polaris / Klim gear and Klim gear will not be sold through Polaris’s accessory catalog.  In addition, Klim will continue to operate its own dealer network of retailers so we don’t expect to see any changes in the way Klim gear is sold through dealerships.

While the Klim brand and Polaris clothing brands will maintain different design and development teams the production of the clothing will be combined. By combining the purchasing of all the Polaris clothing brands they will be one of the largest clothing companies in the powersports industry and their size will allow for greater buying power with suppliers and factories around the world.

One has to admire Justin and team at Klim for what they have achieved in a relatively small time in building a business big enough to be sold to a corporation. An impressive feat for sure, when asked what advise Summers would give to aspiring entrepreneurs Summers said “be willing to start small, be willing to be poor and refuse to lose”.

Overall it sounds like the acquisition of Klim by Polaris is great news for us snowmobilers, as the financial backing and big business expertise of Polaris will allow Klim to elevate their business to the next level and offer even better clothing solutions to the powersports market. Klim and Polaris will remain independent of each other and continue offer innovative products to the snowmobile market.

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