Brent Turner, K2’s vice president and generalmanager of the snowboarding division, has become an even more influentialmember of the snowboarding community with K2’s acqusition of Morrowand its likely purchase of Ride. We caught up to him to see how thistransition period is going.
How much were you involved with the Ride deal?
I was very involved.
Was it primarily you and K2 CEO Rich Rodstein doingthe negotiations?
No, K2 has an acquisition guy, Mike DeMartini,who spends a lot of time looking at companies. John Rangel, K2’ssenior vice president of finance, was also very involved.
What was the chronology of the deal?
It all started happening during my vacation inthe first week of July.
It’s clear what K2 offers Ride-stabilityand financing-but what does Ride offer K2 that it alreadydoesn’t have?
They offer us a couple of things. Overall, wesee there’s a lot of strength in the entire company and they bring alot of resources to K2.
Ride is very strong in the Canadian market andthat’s an area where we’ve got a lot of work todo-we’re actually in the process of restructuring K2’sCanadian operations.
They’ve also got a really strong bindingprogram-strap binding program-and as we found out this year,that’s a portion of the market that hasn’t died yet. Andclearly the boards offer great performance and graphics.
Ride also has a good boot program and an appareldivision that’s about as big as ours-still small but growing.
You’re in the process of integrating Morrowinto your operation, what have you learned from that process thattranslates to your likely acquisition of Ride?
They’re a little different than theMorrow deal. We were able to pick up some of the pieces at Morrow. WithRide it’s different-more along the lines of a merger instead ofan acquisition.
But I think the thing we’ve learned issomething we’ve been doing with Morrow from the beginning and thatis keep the product development, marketing, and sales organizationseparate. This maintains each brand, but of course it’s morechallenging.
On a day-to-day management level, how will the Rideacquisition be different from the Morrow deal?
That’s probably one of those things Ican’t talk about yet. I don’t really know yet.
One thing I anticipate though is that havingmultiple brands will bring many different viewpoints into theorganization. It expands the gene pool in all respects, and that’sgood.
I think we’ve been able to learn thepositives and negatives of other people’s organizations, andthey’ve been able to learn ours as well. Ultimately, that’svery healthy for everyone.
What incentives or guarantees are you giving Rideemployees so they don’t jump ship to other brands?
It’s a great question, but I can’tanswer it.
But that must be a concern.
Sure. It’s always a concern.
Where will the Ride offices be located?
I can’t answer that question yet.
Who’s going to run which brands?
Once again, it’s too soon to announcethat.
What will happen to Ride’s factory?
We’ll continue on with that. We see thatas definitely a source of strength for the Ride brand. I’ll probablyswing by the factory before the ASR show, but from what I’ve heardit’s a good factory that makes great boards.
Will Ride’s step-in program now utilizeClickers?
I can’t say yet.
How will be product development be managed amongthe five different snowboard brands?
I think there is a fair amount of synergythere, but we definitely have the desire to keep the technologiesseparate. Of course, when it comes to product development each brand willknow what the other is doing.
How will you remain passionate about five separatesnowboard brands. That would seem to be one of K2’s biggestchallenges.
It definitely can be a challenge, but what itmeans is that you have to have people who are passionate about each oneof those brands.
We have people here now who are fighting forMorrow to have a certain technology or construction. That’s whatthey think about all day. What K2 is doing is of interest to them, butultimately they’re concentrating on their own brand.
We were all competitors a few months ago, andit’s hard to change that mentality. But to be honest, that’snot something I really want to change. I think it’s good.
What affect will this deal have on the snowboardingindustry as a whole?
I don’t think it really should affectother brands too much. Is it a threat to other brands? I don’t thinkso.
I think there’s some concern on the part of afew retailers, but other retailers have called me up and told meit’s a great thing. We sent out a letter that outlines howwe’ll keep the sales separate and market the brands separately.
Has the snowboard industry reached a point in itsmaturation when it’s cheaper to buy marketshare than growmarketshare? Is it even possible to grow marketshare to the extent youjust did with buying Morrow and Ride?
That’s a good question and a hard one toanswer. We’re betting that it’s-not cheaper, that’snot it-but quicker or more efficient to pursue this multiple-brandstrategy and gain marketshare that way, than it is to only growmarketshare through growth-which is a strategy we’re stillpursuing.
But there’s also a strong market leader inevery market category, and that leader is Burton. Even though we have amultiple-brand strategy, there’s not a single category where we comeclose to challenging Burton.
At the same time, if you’re able to obtain ahigh marketshare position with one brand, then that’s definitelymore efficient than having multiple brands.
But we intend to keep each brand separate, andsupport them and market them as separate brands. If there’s only oneor two brands that are really driving the market, that’s not reallyhealthy. What’s helped snowboarding is that there’s been a lotof brands working hard to market their brands, and that’s keptexcitement high about the entire sport.