Nine1One Gear, a high-end producer of outerwear for firefighters and EMS professionals, announced it has merged with Watershed, a supplier of Gore-Tex industrial rain gear to the agriculture and forestry industries, and has brought all of the company’s manufacturing back to Watershed’s Salem, Ore.-based factory.
The newly merged company, which employs 50 workers, is called Watershed Apparel. The transaction was completed by Nine1One president Peter Ettro and partner Russ Monk, of Tigard, Ore.-based High Impact Technology. Watershed’s CEO is Justin Brown, formerly of Nike, Inc.
“Rapidly rising inflation in China coupled with quality control challenges negated any advantage to manufacturing offshore,” Ettro says. “And we serve industries that truly appreciate–some even mandate–domestically produced products. It’s a wonderful feeling to have all of our operations back in the USA.”
Brown has introduced lean manufacturing practices at the company’s factory, which will help boost efficiency and profitability. All Watershed lines are high end, so the company is not as reliant on offshore manufacturing for agreeable margins. Ettro had already established national distribution for Nine1One products, and the same channel will now serve Watershed’s entire product range.
Brands under the Watershed Apparel umbrella include Nine1One Gear (outerwear for police, fire and EMS professionals), Watershed (raingear for safety and industrial workers) and StormForce (tactical outerwear for SWAT teams and US military personnel). Watershed also has a special products group that manufactures technical products for other companies. All production takes place at Watershed’s Salem factory.
Nine 1 One products are ISO 9001-certified, which will be the case with Watershed’s entire product range going forward.
Watershed has an aggressive growth plan in place for 2011-12, which will include integrating branding and ISO certification across all lines, expanding product ranges and capitalizing on its strong marketing partnership with W. L. Gore, a supplier to the company. Watershed’s goal is to double its annual sales by 2012.