Harken passes into the hands of its employees.
Peter Harken, co-founder of sailboat hardware and accessories maker Harken Inc. in Pewaukee, says he and his late brother Olaf Harken turned down proposals from at least 50 potential buyers over the years, but now is the time to ” pass on to your employees. ”
“Over the years, Olaf and I have been approached by many good people interested in acquiring our business. The way we chose was simple, simple. We decline any offer that does not present a better future for our employees than we could have created on our own. We created this company to make the best navigation products we could make, at a fair price. We have been very successful in doing so and this makes us proud. What we couldn’t have predicted is how much the culture of this place means to its success. My brother Olaf, Art Mitchel and I tried to build a place where people could take risks and not be afraid of failure. It was our people who made this company the market leader it is today.
It’s time for those who have worked with us to own Harken. I have all the faith in the world in Bill Goggins, who is now CEO; Matt Malec, director of operations; and John Jensen, our CFO; together with the members of our Executive Committee composed of Andrea Merello, CEO of Harken Italia; Adriano Rubinaccio, director of operations and deputy director of Harken Italia; and Stefano Castagana, global director of human resources and deputy director of Harken Italia. These people we’ve hired and raised have had their hands on the wheel for some time and I can’t wait to see them make their mark. I have always said that in this company it is its people, now 400 around the world, who make this place great. Three years ago, when Harken turned 50, someone asked us what we would like Harken to be when he is 100. In 2067, we want him to be stronger than he is today. Hopefully it still feels like “The Harken”, but it has to do more than we can dream of today. This transaction is for that to happen.
To our clients and collaborators I say: do not believe this news only in trust. These commercials always sound like snow in the sun. Don’t believe any of this based on my words or anyone else’s. Keep checking Harken products and buying them until you find someone who can do better; we will not forget how to compete.
As for me … I’m not going anywhere! Although the terms of this acquisition allow me to do pretty much what I want, I’m kidding, I’ve been doing it for years! … I will keep coming to the company because I want to. I enjoy being here with people … to see what happens every day, to contribute where I can, and to serve as a field sales and communications ambassador.
To the new owners I say: Olaf would be very happy today. Wish I was here to see this. But like I told you the day he died, no jokes, he will be watching. I also. Now is your turn. Let’s get in! ”
Bill Goggins, CEO of Harken:
“We have been preparing for a day like this for our entire career. We are very grateful to Peter, Olaf and Art for the trust they have shown in all of us. Today we raise our glasses to Peter Harken, the family of Olaf Harken, Rose Sorensen and Art Mitchel. This company always owes both them and our founders. It will always be the Peter & Olaf Harken company, but as of today it is in our care and custody. ”
Matt Malec, Chief Operating Officer, Harken:
“Historically, Harken has been a place where great things happen in uncertain economic times. We have invested most of our manufacturing capacity and built our headquarters and major manufacturing centers during the Great Recession of the early 2000s. We have had strategic acquisitions as part of our objectives in recent years. Today, in the middle of this busy year, we have completed our largest acquisition to date. We hope there will be more. But today, Harken bought Harken. ”
John Jensen, Harken CFO:
“In recent years, we have financially prepared the company for a transaction that would move ownership. As CFO, I am very happy with what we have done. First as an employee and now as an employee-owner, I am even happier to have found a way to ensure that as we grow this company, it will continue to live up to its values. ”
Harken Inc. is the brainchild of founders Peter and Olaf Harken. Founded in 1968 with the invention of the plastic ball bearing block, it is now the brand of choice for most teams