New KL Outdoor-GSC CEO Brings Sales, Market Development Savvy

Muskegon, Michigan-based KL Outdoor-GSC, a New Water Capital portfolio company, announced today that outdoor sports and recreation industry veteran Charles L. “Chuck” Smith has been named chief executive officer. The company, believed to be the world’s largest manufacturer of paddle sports equipment, was created by the April 2017 merger of recreational products makers KL Outdoor and GSC/Future Beach.

New Water partner John Disa said Smith brings a rare combination of business and entrepreneurial experience that includes sales and market development, managing relationships with big-box retailers, and several years in the outdoor sports products industry. “Chuck has an impressive track record of increasing sales and expanding market share at several companies, both in the recreational products category and other consumer sectors,” Disa said. “We were inspired by his enthusiasm for the potential of this great new company.”

Smith began his career in the consumer products industry, joining Hunter Fan and quickly moving into product development there. In 1998, he joined outdoor products supplier Wenzel Company, where, as president and later group president, he grew revenue substantially. Smith returned to Hunter Fan Company as president in 2005 and was named chairman and CEO in 2007.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to help lead this exciting new company,” Smith said of his new position. “I am thrilled at the opportunity to develop new product offerings, and leverage multiple shipping points and increased manufacturing capacity to better serve our customers in this fast-growing sector.”

Tom Harris, president of KL Outdoor prior to the April merger, said Smith’s experience in working with major retailers and new product development will benefit the new company as it begins its planned market expansion. “He has a great ability to identify what the customer needs and how we can help our retailers be more successful,” Harris said.

“I think Chuck’s solid foundation in sales and product development and forward-thinking recognition of the growth potential are key to successfully leading the company,” said GSC President Robert Farber.

The CEO search process was led by Bryant Park Search Partners.

KL Outdoor/GSC manufactures kayaks and other recreational and outdoor products under the Sun Dolphin, Evoke, Future Beach, Equinox, Patriot, Heritage, and Viper brands, to name just a few. Company production facilities are located in the U.S. and Canada.

About New Water Capital

New Water Capital, L.P. is a private equity firm focused on lower-middle market companies in transition, in the consumer, retail and industrial manufacturing and services sectors, with revenues of $30 million to $300 million. New Water Capital’s collaborative transaction and operating model is built specifically to support companies in transition, building on their unique cultures and strengths. For more information, please visit