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A Closer Look: Bauer Agrees To Buy Cascade

6 - Published June 13, 2012 by in Equipment, Helmets
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Yup, it’s really happening: Bauer Performance Sports has agreed to buy Cascade Helmets. There have been rumors flying for months about this deal, and now that it’s official.

To the pure lacrosse consumer, it may seem like a lacrosse helmet company just sold for $64 million. However, before you go out and start your own helmet company to make a quick buck, let’s look at the deal just a little closer.

Yes, Cascade makes a kick ass, take names lacrosse helmet. Actually, they make a few of them. The helmets protect the head, they’re lightweight, they look good, and they’re worn by many of the best lacrosse players in the world. Cascade makes great products, and has been since first entering the market in the 1990s. The first Cascade helmet was an immediate step up from old bucket helmets of yesteryear, and Cascade has been the helmet brand of choice ever since.

-Croart Cascade Lacrosse Helmet

Worth it!

However, Cascade is much more than just a lacrosse helmet company. They also have a hockey helmet, the M11, which has quickly made strong in-roads in the NHL, especially amongst previously concussed players. Who is a current Bauer player concerned with concussions? Steven Stamkos, and he could be a likely candidate for an M11 next time he hits the ice! That, or he’ll be wearing a Bauer Re-Akt helmet, and down the road, that will probably have some M11 technology in it. Now you can start seeing the depth of this acquisition! (EN: Thanks to Manny Chavez for the correction!)

Bauer looks to acquire innovative companies that have the potential to take over or revolutionize an industry. It can then take technologies used for one sport and apply them to another, or mix the two. The existing Bauer lacrosse connection only makes this deal stronger.

Bauer already owns Maverik, and with this relatively new but quickly growing brand, they offer lacrosse gloves, pads, sticks and plenty more. Top college lacrosse programs wear the gear, and Maverik’s roster of professional athletes and employees is full of big name, great game guys. With the Cascade acquisition, now Bauer does lacrosse helmets too.

Cascade Sports box Lacrosse helmet M11 3

Can also be used for box lacrosse.

With the Maverik and Cascade acquisitions taking place in a relatively short period of time, it’s clear Bauer is ready, willing and able to make big moves in the industry. While this deal is mammoth in the eyes of the lacrosse world, it also begs the question, “What will Bauer do next?”

If I had to offer a guess, I would have to say Under Armour. UA’s apparel is very popular, its breathable fabric changed sportswear, and it makes shoes and sneakers for sports like lacrosse, soccer, basketball, running, and football. There is some overlap with the lacrosse line, but I could see UA’s lacrosse brand folded under Maverik’s label if Bauer were in charge. That’s all just rampant speculation as to what hypothetically could be next.

Let me be clear, I have NOT heard anything about Bauer wanting to purchase Under Armour. I just think it looks like another potential place for synergy.

(Editor’s Note: this probably was NOT the best example of a company they could buy. See reader joenandez‘s explanation as to why, below)

Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure Bauer with its market cap of ~$250 million might have a hard time convincing UA to sell considering its market cap of $5.2 Billion. :)

If anything, this acquisition reminds me of how far lacrosse has to go from a growth standpoint. One of the most recognizable, successful lacrosse brands who have arguably cornered the entire lacrosse helmet market, selling for $64M. What does that say about the potential for new lacrosse-focused businesses? Possibly a low ceiling for revenues in a tightly contested equipment market with well established players. No wonder UA/Nike/Adidas and others are just dipping their toes in.

Okay, so that really was an atrocious example, even if one considers that Bauer is owned by a larger investment group, Kohlberg & Company. (Nike sold Bauer to Kohlberg in 2008 for $200M) Thanks for calling me out and keeping me honest, Joe! Much appreciated.

I still think this is a great acquisition for Bauer, and it definitely cements the parent company in the lacrosse market via subsidiaries. With all encompassing brands like Reebok, Nike and Adidas stepping up their lacrosse presence, and Warrior being an existing behemoth, if you want to compete, it helps to be big.

It’s clear that this wasn’t just a lacrosse deal. However, a good chunk of money was paid for a company that has a strong lacrosse presence. That means someone in charge somewhere at Bauer thought lacrosse was a worthwhile investment. I don’t think this is the last time we’ll see that call being made.

For more on the deal, check out the full press release, which contains some interesting information on the acquisition and how it ties into Bauer’s growth strategy. Could we see a Bauer Lacrosse helmet that is basically just a Cascade in a year or two? Or will the name stay Cascade, like Maverik has stayed Maverik?

My gut says little changes on the outside, and the name stays Cascade. Brand specific name changes rarely work (see Nike buying and then selling Bauer). But with more resources at their disposal, Cascade should be able to create even better products, and that’s good for your head, and good for the game.

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