- Yeti opens in first day of trading down roughly 7 percent and recovered some by the close.
- IPO of 16 million shares was priced at $18.
- CEO Matt Reintjes says Yeti's high price tag is a function of the value its products brings to customers.
Yeti CEO Matt Reintjes on Thursday defended the company's pricing structure on its high-end coolers as the stock opened for its first day of trading down about 7 percent.
The Austin, Texas-based manufacturer closed down about 5.5 percent at $17 a share.
"We didn't go into this for a one-day action," Reintjes told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" as the initial public offering began trading on the New York Stock Exchange during a time of high stock market volatility. "Long-term sustainable growth has been our plan all along."
Yeti, which has attracted a cult-like following among its customer base, postponed a 2016 offering. Reintjes said the delay allowed the company to get more prepared.
"It was really the chance for the business to evolve into where we are with the infrastructure, the consistency, the performance that we expect to continue to deliver in the market," he explained. "And we believe in the intrinsic value of this business."
On Wednesday evening, Yeti priced its IPO of 16 million shares at $18 each, below the expected range of $19 to $21. The IPO brought in about $288 million.
Yeti plans to use the funds to help pay down debt.
"We're a strong cash flow business," Reintjes said. "We fund our growth. We believe over the years that we have enough free cash flow to support the rest of the business."
Yeti, founded in 2006 by brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders in Austin, makes a range of premium outdoor lifestyle products including hard and soft coolers as well as drinkware, travel bags, and outdoor chairs.
"The brand reception we got with investors as we went through and talked about our portfolio and where the brand is has us excited about the future," said Reintjes.
Yeti customers are paying a premium for its products. A Rambler tumbler sells for $20 while a Tundra hard cooler sells for $1,300. Defending the high costs, Reintjes says Yeti's goal is to change customers' expectations and lean on its loyal following.
"The price is just a result of the design and performance we bring to the product," he said, adding the company has found success with their hard and soft coolers and drinkware over the past dozen years. "We're excited about our future and what our products bring to our loyal consumers."
Correction: This story was revised to make clear that Yeti had previously tried to go public only once.