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Francisco Morales: New Journey at 5.11

Francisco Morales in 2023 wrapped up over five years as chief executive of 5.11 Inc., the tactical apparel and gear firm he co-founded with Dan Costa 20 years ago.

On the first day of 2024, Morales transitioned to executive chair of the company’s board of directors while another board member, Troy Brown, stepped in as CEO.

Morales is said to continue working with the 5.11 team on corporate and product strategy and will remain “a significant shareholder” in the company.

“This transition period has been both busy and immensely enjoyable, offering me the unique opportunity to view our operations from a different vantage point and to envision the future of 5.11 with fresh eyes,” Morales told the Business Journal.

Morales was appointed CEO after Compass Diversified (NYSE: CODI) acquired the apparel company for $401 million in 2017.

5.11, now the largest of the seven subsidiaries under locally run Compass—which also owns Newport Beach’s Lugano Diamonds—reported sales climbed 9.3% in 2022 to $486 million.

Since 2018, Morales has led the retailer through a major brick-and-mortar expansion going from 40 stores to its current 124 company-owned locations.

The “purpose-built” and versatile clothes 5.11 designs and manufactures, mainly for military and first responders, are also sold across more than 1,114 wholesale partners globally.

Apparel, including some pieces that Morales designed himself, has been worn by both international leaders and fictional action heroes.

Morales was one of five honorees at the Business Journal’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards last March.

“In my new role, I will be focusing more on long-term strategic growth, brand stewardship, and ensuring that 5.11 continues to lead and innovate in the apparel, footwear and gear industry,” Morales said.

Incoming executive Brown has been on the 5.11 board since 2019, and most recently ended 15 years with retailer Zumiez as president of its North American division.

“What Franciso has done over the last five years to ‘Serve those who Serve’ has been nothing short of exceptional and I am honored to partner with him and the fantastic team at 5.11,” Brown said.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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