Dragon, the American supplier of sunglasses, owned by Luxottica since the larger company bought Oakley in 2007, has emancipated itself and is going private. Started in the California garage of its founder, Will Howard, more than 13 years ago, Dragon specializes in surf, snow and motocross eyewear, selling in 35 countries.
As a young company trying to grow, Dragon brought in investors who were also associated with Oakley. The companies' relationship evolved into a shared private partnership until Luxottica's purchase. As a small brand in the giant's portfolio, Dragon could have refocused to be strictly an optical business, and benefited from lower production costs and a larger sales network by being part of a huge company. But Howard and Dragon's general manager, Aaron Behle, chose independence and the chance to expand the youth lifestyle brand with a wide range of products. It took them six months to round up investors to go private.
Dragon will keep its roster of athletes, including Mick Fanning, the surfing world champion, and the snowboarding pro Jamie Lynn. Behle, who was previously vice president for international sales at Reef, said, ?We have a young and passionate team with the ability to ?zig' while the market ?zags' and enjoy ourselves along the way.?