McNett outdoor gear company bought by Canadian competitor

McNett Corporation, an outdoor gear manufacturer based in Bellingham, was purchased by one of its biggest competitors, the company announced today.

Coghlan’s LTD of Winnipeg, Manitoba, bought 100 percent of McNett from its founders and owners, Nancy and Duane McNett. The companies’ wouldn’t disclose the deal’s financial terms.

The acquisition won’t immediately change anything for McNett’s 45 employees in Bellingham, said Gerald Craft, the company’s consumer marketing director. McNett CEO Travis Huisman and COO Liz Mathias will continue to lead the company.

“They like the way we do business,” Craft said about Coghlan’s. “For right now they’re going to let us do our thing and oversee the whole operation.”

The McNett name will likely fade away over time and the company will emphasize its brands: Gear Aid, Outgo, McNett Tactical and M Essentials.

Coghlan’s —like McNett—makes a range of products for camping, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Wal-Mart and REI carry Coghlan’s stoves, cooking utensils, camp chairs, flashlights, tent stakes, knives and other gear.

“I can almost guarantee that if you enjoy the outdoors you’ve purchased a Coghlan’s product,” Craft said. “Coghlan’s was probably one of our biggest competitors.”

Nancy and Duane McNett founded the company in 1980 and are retiring to spend more time with their family, Craft said. They started planning the transition years ago and have slowlystepped away from the company’s day-to-day operations, Craft said.

Nancy and Duane McNett fielded a lot of offers for the business and they felt that Coghlan’s was the right fit for McNett’s brands and employees, Craft said.

“There were other possibilities,” he said. “Their biggest goals were to make the sale and make sure that everyone still had a job.”

The two companies started discussing the deal about six months ago, said Diane Solvason, spokesperson for Coghlan’s.

Solvason said there isn’t much overlap in the two companies’ products. Coghlan’s makes more than 500 products that are mostly geared toward family camping, while McNett carries more specialized products such as tactical and dive gear.

“A few items overlap,” she said. “Even though we’re both in the same industry we target different segments.”

With the merger complete, Coghlan’s biggest competitors are Coleman and Blue Sky Gear, Solvason said.

Coghlan’s employs 28 people, all in Winnipeg. Rob Coghlan leads the company. His father Norm Coghlan founded it in 1959.

Duane and Nancy McNett still own part of Aquamira, makers of water filters and other water purification products, Craft said. Aquamira is based in Logan, Utah. They also still own the building that houses McNett’s offices and manufacturing facility, at 1411 Meador Ave., in Bellingham.

“By no means will this be the last time we see Duane and Nancy,” Craft said.

Oliver Lazenby, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or olazenby@bbjtoday.com

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