Rock/Creek Outfitters Inc. today announced that the company has been purchased by Uncle Dan’s Outfitters, a subsidiary of Camping World Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CWH).
An independent specialty outdoor retailer, Rock/Creek provides outdoor gear from top brands for sports including kayaking, rock climbing, camping and hiking.
In additional to a robust online store, the company operates six brick-and-mortar locations in Chattanooga, Franklin and Cleveland, Tn., and a seasonal outpost near Benton, Tn.
“We believe in the Rock/Creek brand. It’s been a good thing for Chattanooga for more than 30 years, and it will continue to be a community-based, hyper-focused retailer in the outdoor specialty market,” said Chad Wykle, a co-owner of Rock Creek. “While our industry has been challenged in the past five years, 2017 was another growth year for Rock/Creek. Partnering with Uncle Dan’s will give us the horsepower to build upon our continuing success and to expand our regional and online presence, while delivering the same level of quality — from the same passionate team — to every customer we serve.”
Wykle and co-owner Jonathan Scott acquired Rock/Creek from its founders, Dawson Wheeler and Marvin Webb, in 2017. Since that time, Mr. Wheeler and Mr.Webb have remained a part of the company’s strategic leadership team and were fully engaged in the Uncle Dan’s acquisition.
“Rock/Creek’s strong legacy and team were central to this decision,” Mr. Wheeler said. “We’ve always been an opportunistic company, and this transaction provides Rock/Creek with unprecedented growth opportunities at every level. It also allows the current owners to focus on what they love: interacting with staff, customers and the community in a very hands-on way. In short, it benefits everyone and checks all the boxes.”
Uncle Dan’s, a Chicago-based outdoor gear, camping supplies and apparel retailer, was acquired in 2017 by Camping World, the nation’s largest network of RV-centric retail locations. Earlier this year, Uncle Dan’s acquired Erehwon Mountain Outfitter, a leading Midwest specialty retailer of outdoor gear and apparel. Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and star of the television reality show, “The Profit,” previously stated that Camping World’s recent string of acquisitions will strengthen his company’s efforts to build a seamless approach to the outdoor lifestyle market and expand its e-commerce reach.
Both Uncle Dan’s and Erehwon were established in 1972 as specialty outdoor retailers. Like Rock/Creek, the two companies value a small-business mentality that supports the communities in which they operate and fosters healthy growth of the outdoor recreation market. Uncle Dan’s, Erehwon and Rock/Creek will continue to operate as individual brands and will maintain their own identities. Their customers can expect the same experience and quality of service that they have always known.
“Uncle Dan’s, Erehwon and Rock/Creek are wholly aligned both in terms of culture and strategic objectives,” said Colin Moynihan, the general manager of Uncle Dan’s and Erehwon. “By bringing our like-minded businesses together, we’ll find efficiencies in merchandising and back-end infrastructure, so we can focus more fully on serving our existing customers and reaching new markets. Ultimately, this transaction will help us successfully compete with corporate America’s major industry players, while maintaining our small-business values and family feel.”
FourBridges Capital advised Rock/Creek throughout the transaction process and ultimately negotiated and structured the deal.
“FourBridges was pleased to advise Rock/Creek in this transaction,” said Andy Stockett, a managing director with FourBridges. “The fact that Camping World and Uncle Dan’s would choose the Rock/Creek brand as a beachhead for expansion in the South is a testament to the vision and innovation Marvin and Dawson brought to outdoor retailing 30 years ago.”