Timberland, parent company of Steamboat Springs-based SmartWool, was purchased Monday in a $2 billion deal by VF Corp., an outdoor apparel giant based out of Greensboro, N.C., that owns the North Face clothing brand.

Photo by John F. Russell

Timberland, parent company of Steamboat Springs-based SmartWool, was purchased Monday in a $2 billion deal by VF Corp., an outdoor apparel giant based out of Greensboro, N.C., that owns the North Face clothing brand.

SmartWool purchased by VF Corporation; impact in Steamboat unclear

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SmartWool's story

1994

SmartWool is founded in Steamboat by former ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke. About $300,000 in sales are made the first year.

1995

Philadelphia-based RAF Industries invests six figures in SmartWool, giving RAF 30 percent ownership of the company.

1996

SmartWool sales exceed $2 million. Sales nearly triple the next year.

1999

Steamboat Springs attorney Chip Coe sells his practice and becomes chief operating officer. SmartWool begins selling base layers.

2000

SmartWool sales exceed $18 million.

September 2002

SmartWool moves into 12,000 square feet of office space at the Steamboat Springs Airport terminal building.

January 2003

The Dukes lose majority control of the company and sell their remaining interest to RAF Industries. Chip Coe becomes president.

December 2005

Timberland pays $82 million for SmartWool, which is doing just more than $40 million a year in sales.

June 2006

President Chip Coe hires Mark Satkiewicz as vice president of sales.

October 2006

SmartWool President Chip Coe retires from the company. Mark Bryden, vice president of operations, named interim president.

February 2007

Mark Bryden is named SmartWool’s president.

February 2008

Founders Peter and Patty Duke launch Point6 sock company, a month after their noncompete agreement with SmartWool expires.

April 2008

SmartWool commits to purchasing energy credits through Native Energy to support Colorado wind farms — enough credits to offset 1.3 million miles of airline travel annually, 296,000 miles of automobile commuting logged by SmartWool employees and the electricity and natural gas consumed by SmartWool’s offices in Steamboat and Boulder.

November 2008

SmartWool is named Sustainable Business of the Year by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. The company helped establish the program’s highest designation, platinum.

July 2009

SmartWool President Mark Bryden promoted to vice president and general manager of Timberland North America. Mark Satkiewicz named SmartWool president.

2009

SmartWool has another record-breaking year with revenues nearing the $100 million mark, selling more than 10 million pairs of socks in addition to other apparel.

June 13, 2011

The VF Corporation announces its planned acquisition of Timberland for $2.2 billion.

— Steamboat Springs-based SmartWool soon will have a new owner, but it remains to be seen how the $2.2 billion purchase of parent company Timberland on Monday will affect the merino wool outfitter’s operations here in the Yampa Valley.

The VF Corp., an outdoor apparel giant based out of Greensboro, N.C., that owns The North Face clothing brand, among others, announced Monday that it will acquire Timberland in a $2.2 billion deal both companies hope will bolster their outdoor apparel product lines and expand their international presence.

SmartWool President Mark Satkiewicz and representatives from the VF Corp. and Timberland said Monday it was too early to tell how the acquisition will affect SmartWool, which has 65 employees operating out of a leased space in the Steamboat Springs Airport terminal building.

During a webcast published on VF Corp.’s website Monday afternoon, VF Outdoor President Steve Rendle said his company, which also represents apparel brands including Vans, Jansport, Reef and Eastpak, was looking forward to working with SmartWool.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to work with the SmartWool team and to help them find new ways to help grow their already successful wool-based sock apparel business,” Rendle said.

Rendle said Timberland would keep its global headquarters in New Hampshire, and that with the merger, VF Corp. hopes to grow its business by $900 million during the next five years. The company predicts it can achieve $300 million worth of growth during that time solely from the acquisition of the Timberland and SmartWool brands.

“Timberland is a company with clear momentum, and we have the intention to build upon it,” Rendle said.

Jenn Hudson, a VF Corp. representative, said the company, which operates 800 stores across the world, 475 of which specialize in outdoor clothing, will work with the management team at SmartWool to help their business grow, with international markets being a priority. She said Timberland and SmartWool are “great platforms of their own” in places like Japan, where the VF brands are not as well developed.

“Realizing Timberland’s and SmartWool’s global potential in their apparel business is an important priority for the company,” Hudson said.

A representative from Timberland said Monday the company still was unsure how Smart­Wool would be affected by the sale of the company.

Best known for its rugged field boots and outdoor apparel, Timberland acquired SmartWool for $82 million in 2005. The New Hampshire-based outdoor outfitting supplier makes a full line of footwear including oxford and boat-style shoes, and began incorporating SmartWool into its products following the purchase.

Steamboat City Manager Jon Roberts said Monday that the city was in the process of working through a new lease document with SmartWool that would “provide for an expansion of their existing facility.” Roberts and Satkiewicz declined to offer specific details on the proposed expansion, and it was unclear Monday how VF Corp.’s purchase of SmartWool’s parent company would affect the negotiations.

“We’re very excited to be in discussions with SmartWool that would expand their operations here in the city,” Roberts said. “There are a couple of very positive things about having them in Steamboat. They create jobs and they also help our image.”

Roberts said SmartWool products represent the lifestyle of Steamboat residents and enhance the city’s image.

Started in 1994 by former New England ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke, SmartWool first partnered with Timberland in 2005 to develop and market performance footwear featuring SmartWool linings.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 871-4210 or email scottfranz@steamboatpilot.com

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