Ath­let­ica ex­pands to West­ern Canada, Asia

Lo­cal hockey board maker has ac­quired com­peti­tor Cas­ca­dia Sport Sys­tems

Waterloo Region Record - - Business - JAMES JACK­SON jjack­

WATER­LOO — A lo­cal man­u­fac­turer of hockey boards has pur­chased one of its com­peti­tors, al­low­ing it to ex­pand into West­ern Canada and China ahead of the 2022 Olympic Win­ter Games in Bei­jing.

In a deal that closed Wed­nes­day, Water­loo-based Ath­let­ica Sport Sys­tems pur­chased Cas­ca­dia Sport Sys­tems, a man­u­fac­turer of out­door seat­ing, hockey equip­ment such as boards and nets, ath­letic floor­ing, and rac­quet­ball courts with of­fices in Bri­tish Columbia and Bei­jing.

“We needed a pres­ence in West­ern Canada and Cas­ca­dia was a com­peti­tor we’ve ad­mired for years,” Ath­let­ica chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Andrew McRae said Fri­day. “We were in the right place at the right time and put a deal to­gether.”

McRae said the com­pany was at a “com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage” out west with its head­quar­ters in Water­loo.

The tim­ing for the ex­pan­sion was key, he added. China is pre­par­ing for the 2022 Olympic Win­ter Games, and the Na­tional Hockey League will hold its firstever ex­hi­bi­tion games in Shen­zhen on Satur­day af­ter­noon and in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day in a bid to grow the game over­seas.

“Ath­let­ica felt that hav­ing a foot­print in Bei­jing was an im­por­tant step for us,” McRae said.

Cas­ca­dia’s Port Moody, B.C., of­fice has about 30 em­ploy­ees, while its Bei­jing lo­ca­tion has about 10 em­ploy­ees. Ath­let­ica, which also has a sales and dis­tri­bu­tion of­fice in Min­neapo­lis, em­ploys about 75 people dur­ing peak con­struc­tion sea­son from April to September, and about 35 to 40 the rest of the year.

Ath­let­ica is a pre­ferred equip­ment sup­plier to the NHL and the Amer­i­can Hockey League; 29 of 31 NHL rinks fea­ture Ath­let­ica boards, known as dash­ers.

The com­pany also com­pleted the re­cent up­grades to the Lu­can arena for Kraft Hock­eyville.

Cas­ca­dia and Ath­let­ica will re­main sep­a­rate com­pa­nies and Ath­let­ica will be­come a re­seller of Cas­ca­dia prod­ucts.

Fi­nan­cial de­tails of the deal were not dis­closed.

Ath­let­ica was founded in 1996 as Sport Sys­tems Un­lim­ited, and in 2009 merged with Min­neapo­lis-based Ath­let­ica. The com­pany name was changed in 2016 to Ath­let­ica Sport Sys­tems.

In April of this year, the com­pany was ac­quired by pri­vate equity firm Ful­crum Cap­i­tal Part­ners.


Ath­let­ica Sport Sys­tems re­cently up­graded the Lu­can Arena for Kraft Hock­eyville.

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