Peter Metcalf takes his company public
Park Meadows resident Peter Metcalf said he’s had to recently set aside his passions of skiing and mountaineering to pursue the biggest adventure of his life.
In a couple of weeks, his company Black Diamond Equipment will make a strategic move from which it will emerge a publicly-traded company.
He brought it to Salt Lake City over 20 years ago boasting $5 million in sales. This year it is on track to post $100 million, he said, adding that it employs hundreds of people in Utah and on three continents.
Metcalf said in an interview Thursday that the journey that led to this decision began as an effort to reduce the number of hours he was working to have more time for the pursuits that originally inspired his career.
Ironically, the reverse has happened, but he said that’s all right.
"Somewhere along the way I became a business person as well as a climber and skier," he explained. "Creating, growing and managing a business creating a global entity has been an exciting and enthralling adventure."
In his circles, first ascents are coveted. Well, he said, what finer first ascent could there be than taking a company like his public in an unorthodox way?
"This is a captivating final chapter," he said.
The unorthodox way is a reverse merger, Metcalf explained.
An entity called Clarus Corporation is buying Black Diamond. It is already a publicly-traded company, but it has no operations – only financial assets. Simultaneously, Gregory Mountain Products will merge with the two. Then, with the profits, Black Diamond’s leadership will buy shares in Clarus, which will then rename itself Black Diamond Equipment.
This strategy allows the new entity to enjoy tax advantages while also absorbing Gregory Mountain Products, Metcalf explained. He will remain president and CEO. Black Diamond’s leadership will not change, nor will there be much impact on employees, he said.
Metcalf said he’s doing it because going public is the "quickest, cheapest, least onerous way to access capital for growth." He expects to receive a $200 million operating budget to carry the company forward.
Thoughts of the future are prompting the move more than any immediate gains, he explained. going public, he releases Black Diamond from his own success or failure and gives it the governing structure needed to outlast him.
"People talk about how horrendous Wall Street is, but it’s the only legitimate means for a company to have an infinite future and compete on a global basis," he said.
By the time his CEO contract expires, he’ll be 60. Metcalf said he’s working to do the best thing for his company now, and will make some major decisions about the next phase of his life then.
Because of the principles upon which Black Diamond was built, Metcalf said he feels good investing so much in his enterprise.
He said when he first started he wrote a list of commitments he wanted to keep. One was, "To champion access to and preservation of mountain, canyon and crag environments while working to minimize our environmental carbon footprint," he said, adding, "That happens week in, week out I’m really proud of some of the things we’ve done in that regard."
For example, just recently Black Diamond hosted a press conference at which Congressman Jim Matheson announced his sponsorship of a Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act. The company’s leadership also donates a great deal of time and money to programs that promote good stewardship and conservation, he said.
When he first moved to Utah, Metcalf said he was the only outdoor and ski sports retailer headquartered here. Because of his company’s leadership, and his success in bringing the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets to Salt Lake City, his industry is now a vibrant sector in the state’s economy.
Going public will raise Black Diamond’s profile in the industry, as well as that of the entire sector in Utah, he said.
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