Innov8 Partners, an American family-owned investment company that has nothing to do with the British Inov-8 brand of trail running shoes, has made an unspecified investment in Sherpa Adventure Gear. According to a spokesman, it has acquired a majority stake in the company, based in Kent, Washington, and provided much-needed financing to support its growth.
The brand has prided itself on making its products in Nepal to help sustain the local community, but the process has been rather cumbersome due to lack of financing, customs regulations and other legal obstacles, plus the need to train a changing workforce. The spokesman said that many of its knitted products will continue to be made there, but the more technical outerwear and other items will be made in the Far East.
A press release indicates that the new investors want to improve Sherpa Adventure Gear's productivity and ensure its growth with better deliveries, while keeping their “Nepal-specific character.” The statement also indicates that the proceeds will continue to help building employment in Nepal and give more Sherpa children an opportunity to study through the Paldorje Education Foundation.
Dan J. Costa, the experienced professional and entrepreneur behind Innov8, has become the new chief executive of Sherpa Adventure Gear. Tashi Sherpa, who founded the company in 2003 and is now more than 60, is stepping down as CEO to take care of manufacturing operations in Nepal and other projects in his native country, notably through his two original import-export businesses, Duo Wear and Sherpa Adventure Gear Nepal.
Kelsie Costa, daughter of Dan Costa, has been named president of the Sherpa Adventure Gear. Two daughters of Tashi Sherpa, Tsedo and Pema Sherpa, will remain with the U.S. company in the roles of chief operating officer and product development manager, respectively.
Dan Costa, a self-made man born and raised in California's Central Valley, has a long and interesting history of investments. Among other moves, he purchased Royal Robbins in 1999 and sold the brand in 2003 to Phoenix Footwear after doubling sales and slashing costs. Interestingly, Bradshaw Taylor, based in the U.K., is the European distributor for both Sherpa Adventure Gear and Royal Robbins, which has changed hands again since then.
Meanwhile, sales of Adventure Sports Gear products have doubled in Germany in the last couple of years through the efforts of Wolfgang Jahn, Bradshaw Taylor's German sales manager. The number of shops carrying the brand has risen from 80 to nearly 100 in the last few months. A showroom will be established near Jahn's office in Sindelfingen to take care of Sherpa Adventure Gear as well as Royal Robbins, which came back to the German market last year and is now sold in 40 shops.
Tashi Sherpa told us that he was looking for investors two years ago, when he and his brand got major exposure worldwide after the death on April 20, 2014 of many Sherpas in an avalanche on Mount Everest. They got more publicity after a devastating earthquake in Nepal a year later. Tashi Sherpa and his family then owned 85 percent of the company. He will continue to act as a testimonial for the Sherpa Adventure Gear brand.
While spinning off Royal Robbins in 2003, Costa retained its 5.11 Tactical brand, which became one of the most recognized brands of public safety apparel worldwide before he sold a majority stake in 2007. Together his daughter Kelsie, Costa has launched other brands of performance apparel and accessories through Innov8, including First Tactical and Noble Outfitters, a brand of equestrian apparel, footwear, accessories and animal care. First Tactical, a brand of clothing, footwear and accessories for emergency and law enforcement officials, has just started to become available in Europe.
Costa started as a dishwasher during high school. He gradually worked his way through the ranks at a well-established restaurant and became the head chef. He opened his first restaurant in his hometown of Modesto in 1976, at the age of 23. He then opened 30 Velvet Creamery restaurants and three Mallard's restaurants. He also started other ventures in food manufacturing, food service and real estate.