With a recent acquisition, Natural Chemistry introduces a new product category to its offerings. In early March, the chemical producer stated its intent to purchase Red Leopard, LLC, a manufacturer of automatic pool cleaners and other maintenance products. The deal is expected to close in April, and terms were not released.
“Red Leopard has a wonderful range of products, and Natural Chemistry is quite happy to be adding them to their range,” said Carolyn Wannamaker, vice president of project management for the Norwalk, Conn.-based company.
The sale also was welcome from Red Leopard’s perspective, though officials said the company hadn’t pursued a buyer.
“Red Leopard was absolutely not looking to sell when this came up,” said Kate Thielscher, CEO/owner of Red Leopard. “But the more we talked, the more we realized it’s just a fabulous fit.”
The acquisition marks the expansion of Natural Chemistry’s line, which strictly included chemicals before.
Thielscher said the new product category wasn’t a stretch for Natural Chemistry because they share the same distribution channels and use similar sales and marketing processes as Red Leopard.
“We actually don’t view it as a diversification,” Thielscher said of both companies.
With the purchase come staff shifts at Natural Chemistry. Founder Bob Kulperger will become chairman of the board of directors, a post the company previously didn’t have. Mark Munford was promoted from COO/president to CEO/general partner.
The changes also include integration of key Red Leopard management. Red Leopard owner Robin Ellis will serve as chief technology officer, another new position. Thielscher will step into Natural Chemistry’s COO/president spot.
“With Bob taking a less active role and Mark moving into the role of CEO, Mark wanted someone with a proven track record to take on the responsibilities of the day-to-day operations of our business, and he’s known Kate for years,” said Wannamaker of Thielscher, a former CEO/president of Vista, Calif.-based Zodiac Pool Systems.
The sale of Red Leopard won’t impact the company’s current employees.
“Everybody is going to join the Natural Chemistry team, and we will keep Red Leopard’s facilities in Florida,” Thielscher said.
Ellis founded Red Leopard in 2005 as a design company. In 2007, it began to design and market pool maintenance gear.
“We saw an opportunity in the market to create good, quality products with real features and benefits as opposed to joining the race down to the cheapest price, which is what we’d seen in the accessory category,” Thielscher said of Red Leopard.
Because the acquisition hadn’t closed as of press time, officials did not comment on how the companies will be integrated, including whether Red Leopard will remain a distinct brand under the Natural Chemistry umbrella.