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Granite Gear sold to investment team; manufacturing will stay in Two Harbors

Granite Gear in Two Harbors has been sold to an investment team of outdoor and luggage industry veterans who say they'll take the outdoor gear manufacturer to the next level.

Dan Cruikshank
Dan Cruikshank, until recently a co-owner of Granite Gear, holds a recent version of the Rock Solid Compression Sack by Granite Gear on the left and one from 1986. These sacks helped the company break into the backpacking market. (2011 file / News Tribune)

Granite Gear in Two Harbors has been sold to an investment team of outdoor and luggage industry veterans who say they'll take the outdoor gear manufacturer to the next level.

"The final papers were signed and the deal closed," former owner Dan Cruikshank said Friday.

The business is now a newly formed division of Brzz Gear LLC in Illinois, but Granite Gear's design and manufacturing will remain in Two Harbors.

"After we found out they wanted to keep everything intact in Two Harbors, it made a lot of sense for us," Cruikshank said. "They're investing their talents and resources into Granite Gear."

Cruikshank, along with fellow co-founder Jeff Knight, will stay with the company as part of the new management team. Knight will serve as managing director. Cruikshank will be brand ambassador. Cruikshank's brother, Mike, who was a co-owner and chief financial officer, will retire after helping with the transition.

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Granite Gear's 20 full-time employees and 15 part-time workers will continue with the company, Cruikshank said.

"Everything stays -- the location, the story," he said. "What they value in our business is all the people, and that's all going to stay here. So that's a great thing for us."

He and Knight were 23 when they started the business back in 1986 with $50 each.

"We just started a business, because we didn't know we couldn't," Cruikshank said. "But we never had enough money to make it more than what we've done. We lacked the funding."

They also were never able to buy out a group that had invested in the company when they started out. So when the right offer came along to buy the business, they were willing.

The offer came from three people who had formed Brzz Gear with the sole intent of acquiring an authentic brand in the outdoors industry, Cruikshank said.

The Brzz team is made up of Bryan Kinsley, who has 30 years of experience in the outdoor and travel goods market and will be the new CEO; Zee Zhuang, who will be vice president of operations; and Rob Coughlin, who will be senior vice president of sales and product development.

"With this group coming in, they have the funding and the experience with the industry," Cruikshank said. "I think it's a great thing for us. They plan to not only keep our facility in Two Harbors but expand on it and

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improve it."

Granite Gear makes backpacks, storage sacks, lifestyle accessories, dog products and canoe gear that are sold in more than 500 retail locations in 15 countries and online.

Related Topics: TWO HARBORS
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