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Northwest River Supplies (NRS) is the story of a remarkable entrepreneur who founded a remarkable business. So deeply integral to NRS was Bill Parks that when he died in March 2023, it felt like the end of an era – but for those who knew Bill or who use NRS products, his legacy still lies at the heart of the business.
Like Steve Jobs, Bill Parks started his company in a garage. A business professor with a love of the outdoors, Bill took USD 2k of savings in 1972, stocked an inventory of boating gear and started Northwest River Supplies. Today, the business has worldwide presence, supplying apparel and equipment for rafting, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddling and fishing enthusiasts, as well as for water safety and rescue crews.
NRS has distribution centers in North America and Europe, sales in over 60 countries and is entirely employee- owned, a move prompted by Bill Parks’s powerful business ethic. The company’s headquarters in Moscow, Idaho accommodates over 130 employees and supports manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, repair, sales, marketing, product design, and administration.
As with many businesses, NRS’s cross- border expansion came with unique challenges, and optimizing its presence in Europe has been a good example. According to NRS CEO Bryan Dingel, consolidating an NRS sales operation there, was a key stage in the journey.
“We had been using an agent to sell within Europe, and having developed an initial presence, the next step was to set up a legal entity,” says Bryan.
“Following a recommendation from two contacts who knew existing UHY Hacker Young (Nottingham) clients in the U.K., we approached the firm to discuss potential tax exposure in the U.K. and E.U., and to establish NRS as a U.K. limited company. They also registered NRS for U.K. value added tax (VAT) so we would meet our tax reporting obligations.”
As a U.S.-based manufacturer with a European operation, getting its structure and transfer pricing model right was also a crucial part of the process for Bryan. “We needed the best advice and support on strategic and compliance issues, in a complex area of international tax.”
UHY Hacker Young (Nottingham) U.K. director Ian Dickinson was quick to respond to Bryan’s needs and drew on the support of his UHY colleague Donna Frye in Michigan, U.S. Donna is director of transfer pricing (TP) at UHY Advisors, Inc., and one of the UHY network’s international specialists. Donna in turn secured the help of European TP expert Blanca Lopez Garcia, at UHY Fay & Co in Madrid, Spain for a specific European analysis for NRS, while Donna managed the overall project report and recommendation including strategic reporting and TP compliance for the U.S. parent.
“The response from UHY on all counts has been excellent,” says Bryan. “The transfer pricing project in particular was outside our expertise and we relied on UHY for guidance on how to proceed, and to make suggestions for the best structure for our company. Three UHY firms in three countries have supported us seamlessly. They have been open to our challenges and able to adjust to our specific needs, creating a platform to price NRS Europe that works for us.”
As NRS considers future expansions into more European countries, the process and guidance that has been established by UHY member firms working collaboratively to support the business’s U.K. entry is a great start.
Donna says: “Getting transfer pricing right was an important step for NRS in Europe, so we were delighted to assist. The expertise of Blanca in Spain, and Ian in the U.K., added huge value to our guidance in complying with the U.K. and U.S. transfer pricing rules. We look forward to being of service again as NRS continues to make an impressive global splash.”
Read more stories in Issue 16 of the UHY Global Magazine published by UHY International.
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