Bill Hearn has competed internationally on the U.S. white-water slalom team for 10 years. His sister and brother, Cathy and David, are slalom world champions and Olympians.
The family figured: Who better to make and market kayaks than those who use them? After all, kayaking and canoeing have been a family affair for years.
And now, they're operating a kayak company.
As of Oct. 10, rotational molder Walden Kayaks of Ayer, Mass., has new ownership in the form of Jeffrey DeSantis and Bill Hearn. DeSantis is Hearn's father-in-law and will serve as president. Hearn is director of sales and marketing.
``Jeffrey was looking for a company that the whole family could be involved in,'' said spokeswoman Jennifer Hearn, who is a Hearn by marriage and boasts her own record in white-water slalom canoe and kayak racing. ``They have been checking them out for some time.''
Officials would not disclose the price paid to Hardigg Industries Inc., Walden's parent company, a rotomolder in South Deerfield, Mass.
``Walden Kayaks offers the opportunity to share the joys of paddling with others and contribute my expertise to Walden's product development,'' Bill Hearn said.
Entrepreneur Paul Farrow started Walden Paddlers Inc. in 1992, later selling it to Hardigg. The name changed in 1999 to accommodate the expanding product line, according to information on the company's Web site. The company now designs, markets and manufactures recreational and touring kayaks using recycled high density polyethylene.
Production will continue at the site in Ayer, which employs 40, Jennifer Hearn said. The firm currently molds 17 models of recreational kayaks.
``We divested [Walden] because of our strategic focus on shipping cases,'' said Bill Hamer, Hardigg's chief operating officer, in a Nov. 4 voice mail. ``We've decided to concentrate on our core business.''