After a mere two and a half months out of production, Stohlquist is making a comeback, thanks to being acquired by the watersports company, Sport Dimension Inc.

Stohlquist acquired by Sport Dimension Inc.

Back in December, Stohlquist’s parent company, Aqualung Group, was acquired by the investment banking firm, Barings. Soon after, it was announced Stohlquist would cease operations, as Aqualung would no longer be pursuing sporting goods within North America. Stohqulist had been manufacturing paddlesports equipment—most notably PFDs—for 46 years. Word at the time was that there were several parties interested in purchasing Stohlquist, but it was unclear what Barings and Aqualung’s plans for the brand were going forward.

On April 25, Aqualung announced the sale of Stohlquist to Sport Dimension Inc., a company that’s been around since 1992 and is responsible for familiar names like Body Glove, JetPilot and Nautica. The acquisition happened quickly, with discussions between the two companies starting just over two months ago and a deal reached within three weeks of negotiations.

“It’s been a process, but we already cover a lot of the PFD life vest category in terms of general boating PFDs, wakeboarding PFDs,” explains Terrence Lin, director of marketing and communications at Sport Dimension. “I think the one category we didn’t cover is kayak and canoeing PFDs. So it was really a no-brainer for us to acquire Stohlquist, being that it’s been around for so long.”

Sport Dimension’s plans for the brand

Paddlers can expect to continue to see Stohlquist PFDs lining the shelves of retail stores and available for order online—the last orders were fulfilled by Aqualung in March and Sport Dimension started shipping orders May 1. Product offerings will remain much the same through 2025, with possibly the addition of lower price-point items.

two women paddle a tandem kayak on a sunny day while wearing Stohlquist PFDs, recently acquired by Sport Dimension
Feature photo: Courtesy Sport Dimension/Stohlquist

“I think that’s one thing we started to struggle with at Stohlquist under the Aqualung leadership, was that our prices started to go up and out of the price range that key accounts can be successful with,” comments Nick Rogers, Stohlquist brand manager. “So we’re looking to provide a little more differentiation there.”

Come 2026, they’ll start to change up the playbook, refreshing colors and styles.

“And then definitely come to market with as many new products as my product team has time for,” Rogers continues. “But we’re also going to be very intentional, we’re not just going to make changes to make changes.”

According to Rogers, thanks to Sport Dimension owning its own factories, Stohlquist will be able to get new products to market very quickly. The brand will also be able to leverage the capitalization its new parent company brings to the table.

“The Aqualung Group was highly challenged from that point of view,” says Rogers. “So in the customer’s previous mind of all the deficiencies they experienced with Aqualung—not getting the product, not getting it on time, being invoiced incorrectly—I think Sport Dimension has a high level of operational excellence that the customers are going to be very happy with.”

And while paddlers shouldn’t expect to see drywear added back into Stohlquist’s product lineup any time soon, the brand will be using its new connection to the neoprene experts at Body Glove to potentially introduce a neoprene line. Spitballing, Rogers mentions reintroducing John and Jane wetsuits, expanding booties and footwear, and bringing back the Seaboard watershoe and cold-weather paddling gloves.

Stohlquist seeks to build paddling partnerships

Meanwhile, Lin has big plans for marketing Stohlquist.

“I think in terms of marketing, Stohlquist wasn’t really doing much in investing in paddlers or people who were authentically tied to the community,” he says. “We want to invest in people who are able to represent the brand well and are able to create authentic storytelling for us. That lends more credibility to our products as a whole.”

This will largely take the form of working with paddlers and anglers who can become brand ambassadors.

Rogers explains his guiding principle going forward is to maintain the legacy of Jim Stohlquist, the brand’s founder—namely “making sure Stohlquist maintains that premium, best-in-class product.” Next on the agenda is making Stohlquist PFDs the top PFDs on the market.

“I’m excited for the challenge, but I’m very optimistic,” says Rogers. “Being surrounded by the excellent people at Sport Dimension and just seeing how well things operate—it’s empowering. I feel like we have a very, very good shot at achieving the goals we set forth.”

Feature image: Courtesy Sport Dimension/Stohlquist



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