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December 24, 2005

Well, you want to know what is going on in the world
of Jackson Kayak, we will tell you. I just figure that by being forthright
and telling you what we are trying to do, and what we are actually doing,
you can be a part of that reality. If you remember, I planned on a growth
in 2005 over 2004 of 50%. I had lots of great plans for Jackson Kayak
that are coming true and some that didn’t, yet.

In 2004 we shipped 2537 kayaks, in 2005 we shipped 2668
for a 6% growth. There is an old saying, “you are either growing
or dying”. An in business, I believe that. Our growth isn’t
impressive, you won’t read an article about the company who kicked
ass and took names with their 6% growth. However, Jackson Kayak isn’t
a business that is a flash in the pan. We are here to do it right by our
customers. I have two sets of customers that I must do right by, the kayakers,
like me and my family who paddle Jackson Kayak boats, and my dealers who
not only buy the kayaks from me, learn about them so they can give you
the information you need to get the right boat, but they also are often
the ones who do all of the cool and fun events that add some spice to
your kayaking. If they don’t make money, you won’t find their
doors open, period.

In 2005, I think we were very successful in both, providing
the right product to our customers, at the right price, and helping our
dealers make money. This is success. Also, I found out that we have only
had 3, yes, spelled out, THREE, warrantee boats since we opened our doors
in 2004. Why- we are spending $1.68 per pound for our plastic, while our
competitors average around $.98. We are spending more on labor to make
our hulls, because they have to go in the oven for way longer to cook,
and for the chemical reaction that links the molecules together to happen,
then they have to cool off longer. Sorry, this article isn’t about
our product, but our business.

Our staff turnover has been negligent. We have done
what we can to pay our staff the highest wages in the area, and to give
them as much freedom to do things, like go kayaking, as we can. Because
of this, our staff is becoming highly skilled and have incredible value
to our business. Yes, they all kayak too, which means they can relate
to the slogan, “build it like it’s yours.”

My partner, Tony, is fired up about his kayaking, even
though he spent the last week skiing in Jackson hole. He is a dream partner,
giving my much latitude to run Jackson Kayak as if the only thing that
was important, is to do the right thing. Even with this kind of attitude,
there are always temptations along the way that would pull you towards
taking a short cut, to save money, or whatever. A perfect example of that
is the fact that we finished our seat molds and were prepared to make
the seats out of ABS, like many brands. We just weren’t convinced
that we could make an ABS seat that wouldn’t break, eventually.
We have 1,100 boats on backorder that our dealers want in the next couple
of months. We could have used the ABS in our seats and had a 20% growth
(shipping 3,000 boats). We decided to take our finished molds for the
ABS seats and use them to make aluminum, water cooled molds, to make HDPE
seats. Now, Jackson Kayak will maintain a trend of producing boats that
don’t break…novel. This is the Jackson Kayak way. Now, our
dealers didn’t cancel their orders for our 2006 Boat Armor outfitted
boats, because they want another year of making money with them. Cool.
This means that they will get their boats in January and February. We
will have our best 1st quarter in the short history of Jackson Kayak,
cool beans! Suck today, win tomorrow. This is actually a kind of tactic
I take with my life. I try to stay undervalued. When I train for the world
championships, I don’t show off what I am capable of every day.
Instead, I do remedial training, trying to get better at my weak points.
Because of that, I often don’t look like a favorite going into the
competition. I like this approach and will do it in business too. Don’t
pull next years sales into this year to make it look like this year was
better than it was. Instead, get this year right, so that next year can
naturally be stronger. Tony allows this, and we can build a company the
right way with this approach.

I am looking forward to a 20+% growth in 2006 with no
new designs in whitewater. The funny thing is that when something is the
best, it is the best until someone makes something better. Well, the Fun
series, the Star series, the Hero, Super Hero, and Rocker are ready for
the Pepsi challenge with any product that is being introduced in 2006.
No whitewater company since 1990 has grown in a year where they didn’t
introduce new models, that I know of (I will be money on that, but don’t
have all the numbers to prove it). Jackson Kayak is about to. How can

1. We lowered our prices, why buy a used boat or any
other brand when you can get the best for less.

2. We improved our product- awesome hulls, awesome outfitting.

3. No new boats are better- they may be good (some are,
some aren’t), but they aren’t better.

This is enough about business before Christmas. I am
leaving for Africa for FIVE weeks in a couple of days! What should I pack?
Can you say BIG waves! Oh yea, the Star, All-Star, and Super Star kick
butt on big waves, just FYI.

I am out.

🙂 EJ