By Eric Jackson
Eric Jackson, walks home from kayaking in 2003 at sunset with his children Emily and Dane. The Jackson family live right down the road from the Caney Fork River outside of Rock Island, Tennessee.
Jackson Kayak is a business, created out of my desire to build a kayak for Dane, Emily, and myself that I was not able to build when I was with my previous employer. Those humble beginnings and reasons for what we did then, are part of our DNA. Today, we remember, everyday, that we exist to provide innovative products to people we care about, who will appreciate that product and the brand that designs and builds it. In 2003 and 2004 I called up my friends who owned kayak shops around the USA and Canada to see if they would carry Jackson Kayak when we launched the brand. Apart from two or three, everyone was fired up and said they would carry this new brand in 2004. We opened up 80 dealers in the first year to sell the Fun Series starting with the Fun 1. Our dealers, then, and our dealers, now, are the very core of our business model. It is the local kayak shop that opens their doors every day to educate, provide products, services, events, and information to kayakers, and fishermen. Jacksonkayak.com, this website, was my personal blogspot for a number of years before we started Jackson Kayak. My blogspot’s purpose was to document my adventures in kayaking, and educate people on techniques, locations, products, etc. etc. This purpose has stayed consistent over the years, even as we have grown into a much larger family, with 175 employees, over 200 dealers, and distributors around the world. Today you can find, on the home page, fresh new stories, videos, photos, etc. of my family, our team, our dealers, our staff, and more. The stories are real accounts by core kayakers and fishermen using our products on the waters of the world as a tool of having as much fun as possible.
This past week, we invited owners and staff of our dealers to come to Rock Island/Sparta, TN and spend a few days kayaking, fishing, learning more about our brand, manufacturing, marketing, sales, our strategic partners (brands that we work with like GoPro, Raymarine, Power Pole, Seal Line, Yak Attack, Ram Mounts, Bending Branches, Werner, etc.), and of course, to share with each other what we find that works and doesn’t work in our respective businesses. The format for our dealer summit is a social one, with the majority of our time spent on the water, or in a social setting. This time is where you really get to see just how wonderful these people are. Their passion for the sport is unbridled and their knowledge is amazing.
The next time you are in a Jackson Kayak dealership, please say, “Thank You” to them for being there. It is easy to feel like they are just their to make money. If that were true, there are many other ways to make money that have a bigger upside potential than a kayaks shop. They are selling kayaks because they love kayaks and feel they can add value to the local community of kayakers/fishermen. That value is in the interactions you have with them at the shop, at the river, and of course, in the products that they carry. If they carry Jackson Kayak, it is because, we believe they are the best retailer in the area.
Here is a short video I made during the times I was using my GoPro, which, in this case, only captured a few of the moments of the event. I can’t wait until next year’s summit!
Thank you to the best dealers in the world, the Jackson Kayak dealers! Als0, a BIG thank you to the Jackson Kayak staff, Starting with Sonia Cronin, who organized, and managed this crazy event, Great Job!