Original Watermen, a Premier Lifeguard Uniform Business, Successfully Acquired by HEPCO Capital Management, LLC

HEPCO Capital Management, LLC (HEPCO), the family investment firm established and led by Jonathan and Edward Cohen, has recently completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Original Watermen, Inc. (Watermen). Watermen, founded in 2005 by Jen and Ken Miller, former professional lifeguards, has grown to become a leading supplier of lifeguard uniforms for men, women, and juniors. Ken Miller, with a background as a paramedic/firefighter and rescue swim instructor with the Half Moon Bay, CA Fire Department, has been instrumental in shaping the brand’s commitment to delivering top-notch quality, fit, and performance in each garment.

Recognized as the gold standard in the U.S. lifeguard industry, Watermen enjoys a stellar reputation and outfits numerous organizations, including beach lifeguard and patrol units nationwide, as well as state, county, and city lifeguard and fire agencies. Additionally, the brand supplies various branches of the U.S. military, such as the U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Coast Guard, and other special forces. The company has identified a burgeoning market in intercity pools, parks, lakes, waterparks, and resorts.

Despite the acquisition, the Millers remain dedicated to the business, actively participating as shareholders and advisors. HEPCO is forging a strategic partnership with Daniel Levine, a seasoned executive in the surf, outdoor, and lifestyle apparel industry, who will serve as both an investor and CEO. Levine expresses enthusiasm about the collaboration, emphasizing the potential to elevate Watermen to new heights, leveraging the brand’s remarkable attributes, including a strong product line, unwavering commitment to quality and customer service, a robust culture, and an impressive team.

Daniel Levine states, “I am thrilled to be partnering with HEPCO and for the opportunity that the founders Ken and Jen Miller have entrusted in me as CEO. While Watermen’s core business is B2B, the brand has the attributes of all the amazing startup & heritage lifestyle companies I have committed to throughout my career. The Watermen brand encompasses great product, relentless focus on quality and customer service, a robust culture, and most importantly an impressive team. I am excited about this opportunity to take Watermen to the next level.”

Bill Fradin, Managing Partner at HEPCO, expresses confidence in Levine’s capability to transform the business with a consumer-facing brand story. He commends Levine’s track record in brand building and anticipates the successful execution of HEPCO’s value creation strategy under Levine’s leadership.

Ken Miller, founder of Watermen, shares his optimism about the partnership with HEPCO, citing the firm’s proven track record in building and managing businesses. He highlights Dan’s expertise in leading large vertical apparel retailers and consumer businesses, expressing excitement about the future of Watermen and the potential for continued growth and innovation.

Brien Rowe, Founder of Rowe | Tomes Advisors, played a pivotal role in leading the seller process, and Akerman served as the legal advisor to HEPCO throughout the acquisition.

Source Link