I have not always wanted to own a kayak company. In fact, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to. I just wanted to focus on paddling, teaching, and designing boats. I wanted to design so that I could assure that I never was paddling something I didn’t like just because I was sponsored by the company that made it. I have seen how owning a kayak company has worked against some of those who hoped that it would be a good quality of life and paddling occupation. In fact, I don’t know of a single person who kayaked as much once they started their company.
Well, I considered this before deciding that I would start Jackson Kayak. I believe that the key to happiness is fidelity to a worthy purpose. In case you haven’t noticed, my “worthy” purpose is to kayak at the highest level I can and to help others do the same. I do this with a very specific objective of making the quality of my life and of my family my first priority under the premise that I will kayak everyday where I want to. So for me to start my own kayak company, it has to come second to all of the above, in fact, it has to be slave to my primary goals, or “worthy purpose”. So, that was my challenge to meet or forget it.
Well, my favorite place to base out of in North America is Rock Island, TN. I can paddle all fall, winter, spring, and some of the summer there. It has great rivers, creeks, and playboating within one or two hours, plus the hole and waves right at my house. So, if I couldn’t run a kayak company from Rock Island, then forget it. To make it even better, we have Jackson Kayak located right on Rock Island Road, perfect. Well, between my wife, mother-in-law,and the many kayakers that would love to live and work in Rock Island we have all of the R+D, assembly, marketing, and administration horsepower that we need.
We will make the boats close to my house. Assemble them 1.4 miles from my house, field the phone calls and emails in my house, and do all marketing and sales at the Jackson Ranch (my house). So, that only leaves designing the boats, and bringing them around to the rivers of the world for people to see. Good news, David Knight retires from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Maryland in one year. He and his wife Phyllis will be moving to Rock Island as well at that time. So, I will have to design with David in Washington, DC for this year’s boats. That is OK, since I love to paddle at Great Falls of the Potomac.
As far as getting the boats all over the world, well, I think that is right down my alley. The Jackson family gets in our RV (which we need to get soon) and hits the road, going from one fun river to another. Emily and Dane are on the JK factory team, along with dad, and life is good.
Can I keep all that is fun and good in the company alive, while making the company successful? I certainly think so. In fact, I believe that the success of the company depends upon the character of it staying on course as a kayaker’s company. Yes, I am going for it, because I think I will be able to kayak more, and in better places, and now that I have a whole family that wants to go everywhere I go, I need enough money to afford that travel expense. So, I will strive to make a profitable company that can support my habit.
Just thought I would share my personal experience in going from an employee to an entrepreneur. The results of this decision will certainly be printed here as they unfold.