NH native leads Bauer's surge to hockey supremacy
Kevin Davis, CEO and president of Bauer Performance Sports, displays Bauer Hockey's latest innovation in hockey skates — the Vapor APX 2 with easily changeable skate blades. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)
He became the fourth chief executive officer in eight years when he took the position in 2008, just after Nike sold the brand and at a time when morale and staff levels were low.
This year, it will generate close to $400 million in revenue, up from about $200 million in 2008, and is ranked number one in every hockey equipment category.
Bauer is the only company able to market DuPont's Kevlar material in its neck protectors and socks and continues to create innovations in equipment that were never thought possible, Davis said.
Even in the lower price points, quality is key.
"We were the first company to make an entry-level $65 composite hockey stick," he said.
Davis joined Bauer as the New Hampshire controller in 2002, shortly after the company moved its global headquarters from Montreal, Canada, to Greenland.
Previous management had reduced research and development staff by 10 percent. Davis soon reinvigorated the department as evidenced by some of Bauer's new products, including the Vapor APX 2 skate released in April with easily changeable skate blades. The boot is made with a thermo-formable material that can be customized to a skater's foot, while also being lightweight and durable enough to take a puck.
Davis said it is the category-specific model that has allowed Bauer to regain dominance in the hockey equipment arena after losing its focus. Now that the company has re-established its position as the leader in all hockey categories, it is looking to become the number one lacrosse brand and dominate roller hockey equipment categories as well.
The company is also doing more to support the community more visibly, including a recent $100,000 donation to the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth toward a capital campaign to renovate park facilities.
Davis, a New Hampshire native and Pinkerton Academy graduate, said there was no question the company wanted to keep its global headquarters in New Hampshire due to the quality of the employee base.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I'm incredibly proud to be part of this organization and to be given such a unique opportunity to lead such a talented group of people," he said.
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