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Shimano American buys Pearl Izumi

From the perspective of executives at Pearl Izumi, the company’s sale to Shimano American Corp., announced Tuesday, was a relief. Other potential buyers — mostly venture capitalists — were eyeing the Colorado-based clothing company like a house flipper eyes a fixer-upper: something to throw a new coat of paint on, then re-sell for a huge profit. Shimano officials, however, look at Pearl like a young family sees a home, with plans to move in for the long haul. At least that’s how Pearl officials see it.

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By Matt Pacocha

From the perspective of executives at Pearl Izumi, the company’s sale to Shimano American Corp., announced Tuesday, was a relief. Other potential buyers — mostly venture capitalists — were eyeing the Colorado-based clothing company like a house flipper eyes a fixer-upper: something to throw a new coat of paint on, then re-sell for a huge profit.

Shimano officials, however, look at Pearl like a young family sees a home, with plans to move in for the long haul. At least that’s how Pearl officials see it.

“The reality is that everyone is really excited here,” said Geoff Shaffer, Pearl Izumi’s marketing director. “There were a bunch of people that came and looked at the business and a lot of them were venture capital people and that was super scary for us. We just had a meeting downstairs and the president [of Pearl Izumi] basically said that each one of those people already had a plan to sell. So we’re fired up.”

Pearl Izumi, previously owned by Nautilus, Inc., was shopped around since at least October 2007. Nautilus says it sold the company for $69.5 million, comprised of $65.3 million in cash and the assumption of $4.2 million in long-term debt. The transaction is expected to close by March 31.

Shimano says it plans to strengthen the brand and stand by it; plans are to keep the two companies’ management separate. Pearl’s headquarters will remain in Broomfield, Colorado.

Shimano, Inc. — the parent company of Shimano American, the bike division — has experience with that kind of acquisition. In 1997 it bought G. Loomis, a high-end fishing tackle manufacturer. The Woodland, Washington,- based has operated largely independently of Shimano since then, said Kim Woody, an administrative assistant at G. Loomis.

“The transition went really well,” Woody said. “We still build our own fishing rods here in our Woodland, Washington factory. Everything has pretty much been kept the same.”

“The consumer and the retailer shouldn’t notice anything,” said Devin Walton, Shimano’s marketing manager. “Pearl, in its own right, has been an incredibly successful company with really well-developed product and good strategies; the intent in purchasing them is not to go in and change things that have made them successful. So there are no plans to go in and change anything. They will continue to operate autonomously; they have their own executive management and their own strategies in place. Their entire product lines will continue forward.”