NorthStar acquisition adds a line of cold-weather gear |

NorthStar acquisition adds a line of cold-weather gear

Rob Sabo

NorthStar Investor’s acquisition of Alaskan Hardgear reflects the marriage of two successful companies that manufacture cold-weather clothing and gear, says Chris Howard, chief executive officer of Reno-based NorthStar.

NorthStar, parent company of Glacier Outdoors, made a name for itself in the sporting goods industry with its Glacier Glove product line.

Alaskan Hardgear, founded by Ed Auman, manufactures rugged work wear such as jackets, coveralls and high-density micro-fleece pullovers.

Howard says Northstar Investors was solicited for the acquisition by Auman, who will stay on as an employee of Glacier Outdoor. Purchase of Alaskan Hardgear was effective Jan. 1. Alaskan Hardgear will become a separate brand under Glacier Outdoor and will be managed by Glacier Outdoor Managing Director Coby Rowe.

Purchase of the company was attractive because Alaskan Hardgear’s products are a good fit under the Glacier Outdoor umbrella, Howard says.

Glacier Outdoor’s product line started out as high-performance outdoor cold weather gloves for sporting enthusiasts, but the company expanded the scope of its products to include other offerings such as high-tech backpacks for fly fisherman.

Alaskan Hardgear’s product line is a step up from traditional durable work wear, such as Carhartt, Rowe says, and the target market is a slightly younger crowd because the clothing is more fashionable.

“Any harsh environment outdoors is transportable across those two industries, whether it is our gloves for people who want to use them for work, or their clothes for people who are out in recreational endeavors in harsh environments,” Howard says. “A lot of the distribution channels also are similar, so there is some synergy there.”

Alaskan Hardgear had been based in Colorado and shipped its products from a warehouse in Maryland, but shipping now is being handled at Glacier Outdoor’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse on Colbert Drive in Reno. Alaskan Hardgear can be found in sporting goods retailers such as Gander Mountain and Cabela’s, as well as Fred Meyer markets.

Sales of the brand currently are modest, but Glacier Outdoors is well positioned to add new retail outlets for the clothing through its existing network of dealer representatives, Rowe says.

“We are meeting with Scheels at the end of this month,” Rowe says, “and using the existing rep network at Glacier Outdoor we are going to expand Alaskan Hardgear. With some of the contacts, it is easier to get products to them.”

Glacier Outdoor also can help the brand grow by combining purchasing and manufacturing operations, Rowe adds, as well as through increased access to capital.

“I don’t see much expansion of the product line, but I think we will really be able to drive the brand and distribute the product,” he says.

Though the majority of the Alaskan Hardgear product line is manufactured in Asia, Rowe says, more products from both brands are expected to be manufactured in the United States.

Alaskan Hardgear could be one of many companies to be folded under the growing Glacier Outdoor brand, Howard says.

“We are actively on the look out for other brands to put under Glacier Outdoor that fit into our channels,” says Howard. “The kinds of companies we look for are very small companies that have a good brand and produce good products that fit under the Glacier Outdoor banner. We expect to be adding to that in the next few years.”