On Jan. 25, pedal-drive kayak company Hobie Cat Co. was sold from one private equity group to another, consisting of executives from Detroit-based industrial auction company Maynards Industries. Led by Taso Sofikitis, who is assuming the position of chairman, the team has brought on a new CFO and COO to complement Hobie’s existing leadership team, and recently announced 65 new positions at its Oceanside, Calif., headquarters to help increase production capacity to fulfill inventory needs. Paddling Life trolls deep with Sofikitis on what the future holds for Hobie.
Paddling Life: Why the venture into the paddlesports market? The outdoor recreation industry represents an opportunity that not only excites us as active individuals, but also promises near and long-term growth potential. Sales of kayaks and other watercraft are booming and we see opportunity to continue Hobie’s legacy of innovation and improve the product distribution process. Hobie’s iconic brand and the ‘Hobie way of life’ culture is authentic. The Hobie story is unique and we feel a deep sense of responsibility to maintain and grow the brand’s legacy.
Paddling Life: What new management appointments have you made? Hobie has added new CFO and COO positions to compliment the core leadership team, which otherwise remains intact.
Paddling Life: Any other big changes in store? Primary enhancements will include a larger investment in production efficiencies, product development, and the overall business, focusing on continuing to deliver product to our dealers and expansion of the brand’s global reach.
Paddling Life: How has Hobie’s ability to deliver inventory been affected during the pandemic, and any plans to beef up production? Production was delayed substantially at the peak of the pandemic. Our first priority was the safety and health of our workers. Now that we have established protocols and a safe working environment, we are ramping up production. We just announced 65 new open factory positions to operate evening and weekend shifts at our headquarters in Oceanside, California. As well, we are ordering additional parts to try and stay ahead of the supply chain.
Paddling Life: How have retailers responded to the sale? Overall, our retailers trust Hobie’s decisions thanks to long-standing, strong relationships and mutual respect we’ve built with them over the years. They’re certainly thrilled to see that the new team is pushing to deliver orders as quickly as possible without compromising quality or safety. While everyone has their own perspective, the transition news has primarily been met with optimism, understanding, and a shared sense of trust in the growth of Hobie’s legacy.
Paddling Life: What’s your take on the burgeoning kayak fish industry? The kayak fishing industry has boomed in recent years, in large part thanks to Hobie’s cutting-edge products. The trend in popularity is overwhelmingly positive, and we are certainly invested in staying at the top of the category to provide the most premium angling kayaks that range from beginner-friendly to professional-level quality. Hobie plans on introducing new parts and accessories to complement our kayaks in the coming seasons as well as always investing in our kayak designs to stay ahead of the competition.
Paddling Life: What type of innovations can consumers expect from Hobie down the road? Hobie consumers can expect the same quality of product and commitment to research, development and innovation that has always been prioritized at Hobie. We feel there is limitless growth for the brand, and we’re going to continue to push the envelope to develop more breakthroughs in watersports.