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Jackson Kayak Has Sunny Outlook Despite Gloomy Economic Forecasts

Jackson's unique approach to business pays dividends

Strong sales trends and new product releases give rise to Eric “EJ” Jackson’s sunny outlook for 2009 despite a marketplace saturated with gloomy news.

Jackson, co-founder and namesake of Jackson Kayak, the leading manufacturer of whitewater kayaks, and an emerging rec/touring company, recently related sales and manufacturing milestones his company achieved in 2008 that bolster his confidence as the New Year gets under way.

At the top of the list of good news from the past year is profitability. For the first time in its fledgling five-year history, Jackson Kayak has closed out the year in the black.

With an 18 percent year-over-year increase in sales and a commanding 39 percent share of the whitewater market it’s no coincidence that industry market research reveals Jackson Kayak at the top of such key topline stats as dealer margin, highest profit, highest number of annual turns, lowest inventory levels/sales volume, and highest sales volume in whitewater boats. Jackson also enjoyed an 80 percent growth in the sales of Rec boats with the versatile Day Tripper Series.

Jackson credits his sales success to a “a strong product line, strong dealer relationships, a strict distribution policy, and an emphasis on exceptional customer service.”

The turning point for profitability came from the factory. Hiring paddlesports manufacturing industry vets John Sheppard, Tony Lee, Dave Olson, John Ratliff and Leif Koehler to focus on beefing up manufacturing processes and efficiencies had another byproduct. Jackson has begun molding his own boats in house, a move he described as “a big step toward assuring top quality and controlling our destiny.” This also sets the stage for the success of an overwhelming array of new product introductions planned for 2009 and 2010 in both Rec/Touring and Whitewater.

The first boats to be molded at Jackson’s Sparta, TN facility include the company’s newest additions, the Little Hero and the Dynamic Duo. The Little Hero helps fill out the size range for Jackson’s Hero line of downriver-focused boats. The Dynamic Duo, a two-person whitewater kayak, is expected to be both a fun boat as well as a teaching tool to help grow the sport of whitewater kayaking. Another new boat designed to help grow market participation is the AllWater, a hybrid recreational-whitewater boat set for launch later this spring.

Founded in 2004, family owned and operated Jackson Kayak is the leading manufacturer of whitewater kayaks. For further details about the complete line of Jackson Kayak whitewater and recreational boats, visit