Dye VP and Vans President Weigh In On Pro-tec’s Sale & Future

Mikko Huttenen, Dye Precision VP

Mikko Huttenen, Dye Precision VP

It’s been a busy week for the crew at San Diego based Dye Precision. The company, which got its start in protective technical gear for the paintball market, just acquired 40-year-old heritage helmet brand Pro-tec  from Vans for an undisclosed amount. Pro-tec’s entire staff, which was based out of Vans headquarters in Cypress, California, has already made the move to Dye’s San Diego office, and the company is wasting no time in kicking its newest project into gear, says Dye Vice President Mikko Huttunen, who has been on board at the company for the past eight years and helped launch Dye’s snow goggle category in 2011.

“We’re bringing [Pro-tec's] existing employees over, and will probably hire more,” says Huttunen. “At the same time, we are also  expanding the Dye team a lot. We are going through a massive expansion in our R&D department. One of the big things for Dye is that we do everything in-house from concept to creation, and that gives us a lot of control. We can really try out our technology and test our product.”

Kevin Bailey, Vans President

Kevin Bailey, Vans – America President

A privately held, family owned company, Dye Precision has a massive warehouse and headquarters in Southern California, as well as mirroring offices in Germany, London, and Taiwan; where it does most of it’s manufacturing. With a global staff of more than 250, Dye has often been referred to as “the biggest company that no one knows about,” says Huttenen. It’s extensive technology-driven business model, combined with its increased inventory and distribution models, are a major reason why Vans saw Dye as the best fit for Pro-tec.

“Dye was extremely interested and excited about the opportunity and has been looking for a path into a more established action sports base,” says Vans President Kevin Bailey. “They are a technical performance product company that links well with Pro-tec’s mission. Lastly, and perhaps most important,  the Dye team is capable of giving Pro-tec their full operational focus to activate the product and ‘go to’ market model.”

Vans’ decision to sell Pro-tec was centered around being able to direct an increased focus on its footwear and apparel business, says Bailey. When asked if parent-company VF Corp has plans to acquire another brand more in-line with Vans’ footwear model, Bailey says the brand will continue to focus on its authenticity and drive original growth strategies, which include its rapidly growing apparel business. “Vans and VF regularly assess acquisitions as VF has publicly communicated, but the first priority is growing the Vans brand on a global scale,” says Bailey.

While the ink is still drying on the Pro-tec deal and the logistics behind the transition, such as whether to switch manufacturing facilities, are still in the works, Huttenen says the driving force behind growing Pro-tec will be the number of passionate members backing Dye and its quickly expanding Action Sports retail strategy.

“We’ve been getting a ton of interest in the new CLK goggle, and it’s opening a lot of channels for us,” says Huttenen. “We are an athlete-driven company; on the snow side we have an amazing team. We treat everything we do category wise; we aren’t trying to implement anything from the paintball side, we have a staff of hardcore snowboard people. A lot of guys at Dye are wearing many hats. We move fast and our staff is super hungry to make cool product.”

Bailey agrees that the company’s ties with Southern California Action Sports culture are strong, and the brand is emerging as a leader in the protective technical gear market.

“Vans is excited to see Dye and Pro-tec continue to build upon Pro-tec’s origins as the original action sports protective equipment company as it enters it’s 40 year anniversary as a leading protective equipment brand,” he says.