By Eric Jackson
Jackson Kayak is an international company, and we love the world. We have friends, customers, team members, and important people all over the world. We love them all. Today, however, is Independence Day. Being an American myself, and founding Jackson Kayak here in the USA, in Tennessee, at Rock Island it is fitting to celebrate all that is American today!
What does it meant to be an American? That depends on the individual, of course, because we are so varied in beliefs, positions, and interests. THAT is a BIG part of what being an American is! We think freely; some people more than others; some with original thoughts , some regurgitating the ideas and rhetoric they hear on the news. As a whole our society is made up of independent thinkers. This is how we built such an amazing economy over the past 238 years, as well as invented so many amazing things, created so much art, music, etc..
Being an American is to be great at new things, things that are evolving and growing and changing. We are not an old culture with tradition, so we are not shown how to act, what to do, or what to believe. For every tradition our parents teach us, we see another 20 traditions and ways of doing things in our friends families and we learn to choose best practices among them, evolving our lives, our thinking over time.
This isn’t true everywhere with everybody, and tradition is also important in giving people something to hold on to. Celebrating the 4th of July, Independence Day, is a tradition that is based on stopping for a day, and remembering that being born in the USA is something we should be thankful for, and also it is a responsibility. We have amazing opportunities in our lives to be whomever we want to be (even a professional kayaker, when no such thing existed before). We have a responsibility to contribute, voluntarily, to our society by producing results, and adding value to those around us. Nobody is there to support us if we don’t, and our society depends solely on those who are producers. America will implode if too many people start feeding off of our producers instead of producing themselves. The USA exists due to people who farm, manufacture, and provide services to others. Our military exists to protect America from attack by aggressors, and also to protect others from aggressors.
Jackson Kayak was founded as a USA Brand to be made in the USA. I have been a fanatic about making everything we can in the USA. We have been doing everything we can to make everything in our factory in Sparta, TN. I am fond of saying- “We still have to import some components to our kayaks… from NC and KY.” Meaning I hope that one day we don’t have to go across state lines, or out of our factory for anything. Why is this important? Because we live in TN, and that is our home where we employ our friends and family first. That should be obvious to anyone that thinks about it. Why hire a stranger, when a family member needs a job and can do the best job? Why hire somebody from another state, when your neighbor needs a job and can do the best job? Why hire somebody from another country, when a fellow countryman needs a job and can do the best job? The big one is, “Why fire your friends and family, close down a factory, and move your business to a country just because they don’t pay their employees a fair wage and you can lower your costs? “
I am not against foreign products- love them- I love locally made products from Germany, Spain, Japan, China, etc… from people who designed and manufactured them in their home location. I am against products that could be made locally in the USA, for example, but the American making them, went overseas to lower costs instead of finding a way to make their product work as a Made in the USA product.
Sorry I want on a long rant there….
The message I have today is:
Happy Birthday America!
May you live to see the next 238 years and improve each year along the way!
I love the USA!
p.s. I love Jackson Kayak, too… Final photo- “build it like its yours”
I made this banner in 2004 and it has hung in our assembly area ever since, reminding us that making it in the USA is not enough, it has to be a personal mission to make each kayak as if you were going to paddle it yourself… that is the way to do it! (Here is something I found today about a book call “If You Will Lead” and it uses a personal experience of the author and his friend with Jackson Kayak to describe how to do it right!) http://www.ifyouwilllead.com/theres-no-we-in-accountability