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March 28, 2006


Three years ago today, I promised Rock Creek Outfitters (our very first JK dealer) and NOC (our second JK dealer) that we would bring our first finished product to their shops for Spring Splash Weekend. On this day we were molding our first Fun 1 boats right here about 12 miles from my house. We were dialing in the thicknesses, getting the graphics just right, and learning how to trim out the boats nicely. (We have come along way since then!!! Just look at the original Fun 1s and look today, we now have the smoothest, most consistent trim job out there)

On Thursday, back in 2004, I was at a place in Kentucky, called Rogers Foam, where I was finishing up the outfitting. I was there until well after closing on Friday night, actually making the outfitting myself, with John Ratliff helping me out (now JK’s Chief Operations Officer). By the time I left I had the RV stocked with a bunch of walls, seats, hip pads, thigh pads, etc. etc. and was driving back to our plant, which is a 5 hour drive. My staff was preparing for my arrival which would be at 11pm and we would build out the 21 Fun 1s so that we could show up to Rock Creek and NOC with our new boats, just as we promised. Well, we had a hard working crew, with Hal Tutor, Brian and Tanya, Jase, Will, Kristine, Emily, Dane, Lorraine, and I. I worked on getting the first couple of them done myself so we could set a procedure and an assembly line. We were working inside of our 735 square foot building (two car garage, essentially) and things got crowded and disorganized before we got the procedure up and running. Kristine is the best organizer and cut through the crap person I know and she lassoed the whole operation and got everyone working together, including her mom. We worked all night long, literally. I sent Kristine home at 4am to get some sleep so she could drive us to Rock Creek and NOC in the morning, in case I was too tired. The boats got finished, bagged, tagged, and loaded into and on top of the RV. (21 Fun 1s, plus my All-Star prototype) We drove straight to Rock Creek and got there at 9:30am and delivered 8 Fun 1s to them. Then we drove to NOC for Spring Splash and when I pulled up with the RV (the boats were all inside the RV) I could see the faces of the other kayak companies, who already had their booths up and running. One guy from one company (an owner), looked at another guy from another company (a rep) and said (I read lips really well, just FYI), “Ha, I’ll bet you that they don’t have any boats.” I just smiled, knowing that, it would have been much easier to show up with no boats, wait until Monday to build them, but we pulled together and worked our butts off for a long time, with the sprint to the finish being a multi-day marathon and no time to spare. NOC put the Fun 1s on their front door and a sign that said, 8 left. They had 4 pre-sold before we got there. By the end of the day the sign said, none left! I got to put little kids into the boat, watch them paddle in the eddies on the Nantahala, and finally got to get some sleep that night. Spring Splash is something that will be a meaningful event for me forever.

Well, we won’t be there this year as we are out in California at another cool event.

🙂 EJ