Experienced executives who previously worked for Camelbak Products and other outdoor brands have been placed at the head of new subsidiaries of Helinox that will cover the European market and the Americas. They will take care of the local operations of this relatively new South Korean brand of collapsible camping furniture and trekking poles as well as those of its parent company, Dongan Aluminium Corporation (DAC).
Both operations will be supervised by Sally McCoy in the role of executive chairperson. McCoy, a founding member and past chairperson of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Conservation Alliance in the U.S. led Camelbak and its parent company, Compass Diversified, for ten years until January 2016, shortly after its sale to Vista Outdoor. She has been serving since then as a director of Zumiez, an American action sports retailer whose holdings include a European retailer, Blue Tomato.
Starting on July 1, the European subsidiary will be led by a chief executive based in London, Andy Shand, who knows McCoy well. A former management consultant with Ernst & Young and Deloitte, he has worked for Camelbak in international sales since 2009. After its sale to Vista Outdoor, he continued to take care of the brand as vice president of international sales at Vista, also responsible for other sports and outdoor brands such as Bell, Giro, Bushnell and Bollé. He is leaving Vista at a time when these brands are up for disposal (see the following article in this issue).
Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Helinox USA has been led since the beginning of this year by Ted Ganio, who followed a similar course of action. After seven years with Mountain Hardwear, he joined Camelbak in 2012 as senior director of operations and then worked for Vista Outdoor from the start of 2017 as director of sourcing, materials and components.
Founded in 2009, Helinox is a developer and producer of high-quality chairs, tables, beds and trekking poles. Since it launched its first chair in 2912, it has won seven Red Dot Awards, two Ispo Awards and one OutDoor Industry Award with some innovative products. It recently came out with collaborative designs with brands like New Era, Star Wars and Mickey Mouse.
Led by Young Lah, Helinox is a spin-off of a Korean company, DAC, that was founded by his father Jake Lah 30 years ago. Specializing in the manufacture of aluminum alloy tubing, it has supplied components for tents sold under major labels including Berghaus, Bergans, Big Agnes, Black Diamond, Cabela's, Coleman, Decathlon, Eureka, Fjällräven, Helsport, Hilleberg, Jack Wolfskin, Kelty, Macpac, Marmot, Mont-Bell, Mountain Hardwear, REI, Sierra Designs, The North Face and Vaude.
In the last few years, Helinox has been sold in the U.S. by Big Agnes and in Europe by a Dutch-based distributor, Nigor Net. Earlier this year, Helinox hired Mark Flanagan as European commercial director for its European subsidiary. He had already served as U.K. sales agent of Nigor Net for Helinox. Flanagan will remain in his new function, but reporting to Shand.
While Shand and Flanagan will continue to work out of the U.K., customer service and other administrative functions will be handled by a small team based at a new Helinox Europe office in Amsterdam, working with a third-party warehouse in Rotterdam.
Flanagan will be at Helinox' stand at the OutDoor fair in Friedrichshafen next month. Shand will not be there for family reasons, but he plans to show up at Outdoor Retailer in Denver.
No information could be obtained on the size of Helinox' current business, except that the brand is already strong in South Korea and Japan. Shand tells us that he plans to choose the best possible partners, looking for sustainable growth. He will retain the best agents in certain markets and hire new agents and distributors in others.