Liquidlogic LLC recently shipped its first rotational molded entry in the fast-growing kayak market in late March.
The model, a 7-foot-10-inch Session+ white-water kayak, retails for about $1,045. It is the first of an entire line for white-water and other market niches.
Remcon Plastics Inc., a family-owned industrial container maker, rotomolded the polyethylene kayaks at its plant in Reading, Pa., Peter Connors, Remcon founder and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.
Remcon and a group of kayak-paddling industry veterans agreed to establish Liquidlogic in late 2000. The paddle-sports venture, still in the formative stage, aims to distribute its boats through independent dealerships.
"Our focus is to do things smart, simple and sincere," said Stephen Jordan, vice president of sales and marketing for Hendersonville, N.C.-based Liquidlogic.
A rapid-fire 1998 industry consolidation and subsequent mass-merchandiser competition damaged the specialty retail market, Jordan said.
"They are the core that brought the sport to where it is today," he said. Entrepreneur-minded Liquidlogic aims to serve those dealers.
Major growth in the 1980s and 1990s placed the industry on "the radar screen of the financial community," Jordan said, and attracted three major players:
WaterMark, an Atlanta-based investment partnership, owns the Perception, Dagger, Islander and Mainstream lines.
Johnson Outdoors Inc. of Sturtevant, Wis., a publicly traded company, has Old Town Canoe, Carlisle Paddles, Ocean Kayak and Necky brands. The company recorded sales of $347.3 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 29.
Confluence Watersports Co. of Trinity, N.C., controls Mad River Canoe, Wilderness Systems, WindRider, Voyageur, Trinity Bay and Wave Sport lines.
Typical rotomolded kayaks cost $299-$1,600, with polymer-matrix-composite models in the range of $2,500-$3,000.
Liquidlogic employs seven in design, development and marketing and will add staff and distribution duties this summer.
Remcon employs 95, occupies 150,000 square feet and uses rotomolding and structural foam molding.
"By the second year of kayaks, we may need to add capacity," Connors said.