2009 was my hardest year in business yet. With so many challenges to be faced from many angles, it required a team effort from the best people in the business to succeed in 2009. We fininished the 2009 season last night at 5pm and finished with a growth of 20% over 2008, our previous record year. While we didn’t achieve the goals we set for ourselves for 2009, exactly, we are very proud of what we did accomplish, and are lucky to be doing what we do. We have such an incredible talent at Jackson Kayak at all levels. From our molders, assemblers, maintenance, to our production, shipping, accounting, accessories, to customer service, sales, and all of the way up to those who work directly with me to paddle this Jackson Kayak through the rapids… the Dave Olson, Joe Pulliam, and my partner Tony Lunt. We are lucky to have such incredible people. Just last week Marty Cronin lead the charge to set our new record sales week and month in our 6 year history! Wow, how cool is that.
Each team member has worked hard and earned their pay, and nobody is immune to the challenges we all face in this economy. Instead of whining and complaining, our team just says “bring it on” and is willing to do whatever it takes to create a sustainable, growing, winning company, making the best products the industry has ever seen. When I told David Knight that we would be designing all new boats in one year, he just welcomed the challenge and the results are incredible already. The Star series coming out first, has proven to be the biggest leap in playboat advancement in many years and the results show for it. The Fun series was next, and is staged up for the season to start, with all development completed and the boats in production and now shipping. This third generation Fun will be the go to for kayak schools, and anyone wanting a single boat to do it all. Wrapping up this design marathon is the Villain, our new Creeker/river runner which is bad to the bone. This will be our first prototyped kayak since the 2004 All-Star and Fun 1! David will be finished with the final design tonight!!! Anyone who knows him, knows that working until 4am and then starting again at 8am isn’t uncommon. Results and competence is what rule at JK. Excuses fall on deaf ears and David delivers results, always. The Journey, our flagship touring kayak will debut in February and once again redefine Jackson Kayak as a full service kayak company and show that we mean business in creating products that compete for and earn the hard earned money of our customers.
Our staff are ordinary people, that do an extraordinary job. like all of us here at JK, we weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouths, we have to work everyday to get what we have, and believe that the best life is to “live well for ourselves, so we can give ourselves away to others.”
Our Christmas party was also our send off for 2009 and we’ll welcome everyone back in 2010, no layoffs, no cutbacks. We are growing, and intend to continue to do so. Our growth assures that each person at Jackson Kayak has a future and can grow with us. We make decisions daily that are designed to take care of our staff first. We bring more and more manufacturing into our facility, and never are tempted to fire our own people to make products cheaper in low labor countries. I can’t imagine walking into a factory of 75 people and telling them that we found a factory in China that can make our boats 10% cheaper so we are going to send our business over there. I don’t think the people who make such decisions do so in the presence of their people, but in a closed office, looking at a spreadsheet that can’t possibly tell the whole story. sorry, i am rambling on again.
Nobody can tell the future. I don’t know how many of you will buy a new kayak in 2010, and how many of you will choose a Jackson Kayak. Clearly I hope many of you will know that your life it too short not to enjoy it, and the your new 2010 Jackson Kayak will provide you with some of your best memories in 2010. Memories that you can’t buy, or get without taking a risk, and going out on the water and having a good time while challenging yourself. That is what kayaking is about, the experience, the challenge, the friends, the improvement in your skills and fun factor that goes with that.
We’ll be back on January 4, 2010 and hope you’ll be taking a serious look at our 2010 kayak lineup. An All-Star and a Villain, or a Fun and a Hero are your best combos.
Look for the final Villain to be on the Jackson Kayak website tomorrow!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!