Fireman Capital Partners has invested an undisclosed amount in Pilla Inc., a Ridgefield, Conn.-based maker of sports eyewear. Stacy Madison, an FCP strategic advisor and founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, will join the Pilla board of directors.
Fireman Capital Partners (FCP), a Boston‐based private equity investor, has announced its investment in sports eyewear company Pilla Inc.
Founded in 1999 by Carlo Pilla and now run by his son, Philip, the Company (formerly HD Spex) is known for its cutting‐edge product that provides enhanced vision for the competitive athlete. It is currently the authority in performance eyewear in shooting sports; 16 time World Champion George Digweed is in good company amongst his peers in calling the product an “unfair advantage.” In fact, it is currently worn by the majority of top shooters worldwide.
FCP Managing Partner Dan Fireman said, “We have been deeply impressed by the authority Pilla has developed in its sport of focus. Its best‐in‐class technology, coupled with the authenticity and deep sporting ties of the founding family, make the Company a perfect fit within the FCP umbrella. We look forward to helping them fulfill their potential as a high performance and lifestyle brand around the world.”
According to CEO Philip Pilla, “We are proud to be able to claim that 28 of the top 30 shooters wear our product, and now see this partnership with Fireman – who I view as the most exciting up‐and‐comer in the consumer world today – as credit for our hard work. Fireman offers the perfect platform for an entrepreneur like myself who lives and breathes his product. We share a vision for what this brand can be, and I am extremely excited for what the future holds.”
FCP has tapped Strategic Advisor François‐Henry Bennahmias, President and CEO of Audemars Piguet North America, as Pilla’s Chairman. An athlete and former professional golfer, he holds a keen instinct for the challenge, adventure and bold drive for excellence that mark a true champion and the highest level of perfection in any craft. During his leadership, Audemars Piguet North America has grown from $6 million to over $100 million, while many of the initiatives he has led (such as the partnerships and relationships with world renowned luminaries, athletes and entertainers such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Jay‐Z, Vijay Singh, Shaquille O’Neal, Quincy Jones, and many others) have been key catalysts for driving the success of the global brand. François said of Pilla, “With the superior technology of tomorrow on today’s athlete, Pilla provides a must‐have for those who desire the very best.”
In addition, FCP will deploy other firm resources such as Operating Partner Stacy Madison and Strategic Advisor Lauren DuPont. Stacy, Founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, will join the Board and be actively involved in the growth path of the Company. Her entrepreneurial expertise, building brand loyalty through grassroots efforts, should prove invaluable. Lauren duPont will act as an Advisor to the Company and specifically be focused on helping to guide design of non‐shooting product and creative path. Her stunning fashion and style career has included positions as Accessories Director and Senior Fashion Editor at Vogue, Fashion Director at Style.com, and Senior Design Director for Accessories at Polo Ralph Lauren, where she oversaw the sunglass line.
About Fireman Capital Partners
FCP was founded and is led by Paul Fireman, Dan Fireman and Andrew Spellman. FCP’s focus is to leverage the firm’s capital, relationships and expertise to affect the outcome of emerging businesses. For additional information on Fireman Capital Partners please visit www.firemancapital.com
About Pilla Inc.
Founded in 1999 by Carlo Pilla as a solution to achieve enhanced performance in his favored sport, clay shooting, the Company has become the authority in performance eyewear for the competitive shooter. Whereas the majority of sports eyewear manufacturers employ lenses whose poor clarity distort vision and cause eye fatigue – or can even shatter upon impact – Pilla utilizes cutting‐edge materials with superior clarity and a proprietary contrast technology to enhance vision.
Initially known as Hidefspex, Pilla has been 100% family owned and is now led by CEO Philip Pilla, an enthusiastic shooter with a true competitive spirit – just like his father. The family has deep ties to the sporting world: Carlo was a race car driver for Jaguar, and Philip trained with Pele as a youth, won a US Soccer National Championship, and was elected First Team All‐Ivy while at Cornell. Philip previously worked as Head of Marketing for Sirius Satellite Radio and owned an advertising agency where clients included PowerBar and Lamborghini.
Each Carlo and Philip can out‐shoot a World Champion from time to time. Athletes who wear the product include 16 time World Champion George Digweed, Olympic Gold Medalist Richard Faulds, US Open Champion Anthony Matarese, World and European Champion Ben Husthwaite, and Hall of Fame Skeet Shooter Todd Bender.
Pilla can be bought at select shooting events, from premium outdoorsmen catalogs, and directly through its Ridgefield, CT headquarters. Further information can be found at www.pillasport.com.