Entering the Land of the Folding Kayak (Deutschland!)

Kanu-Out-Door Stand PaddleExpo 2012

PaddleExpo 2012 has come and passed, and it was an impressive show. Much of the paddlesport industry from Europe, Asia, the UK and around the world come together in Nuremburg, Germany for this annual industry show (18-20 September 2012). Given the downturn in the European economy (and the deflation of the EURO), it was a testament to the strength of the paddlesport and outdoor goods and experience market. The show was quite well-attended and the industry players were there and ready to do business. It was great to meet many new contacts, and connect with dealers and ‘friends’ in the industry.

TRAK Stand PaddleExpo 2012 Germany

It was TRAK’s third year exhibiting at this show. The first two years were okay for us, as we had many observers and onlookers curious and very interested in the TRAK folding kayak technology and what it might mean for the industry and the European market. This year was different. European people are very astute business people….very smart, yet patient and thoughtful. My impression is that they will not run off on a whim as easily as their North American counterparts. Once they observe, watch and think about new products for a 2-3 year period, then they are more ready to move forward….one way or the other. Once they have chosen to ‘play’, then they tend to be very loyal believers and supporters of a brand or product. We know it is our job to continue to demonstrate this commitment and earn the trust of our partners (and ultimately each TRAK owner) all over the world. That being said, we are very fortunate to have many new and excellent partners in Europe for 2013 forward!

I met the gentleman that wrote the 2005 article ‘100 Years of Folding Kayaks’ in the German Kanu Magazin. He helped me understand lot more about the history of folding kayaks in Germany and Europe. Early German folding kayaks were modes of transportation in Germany, before the automobile. Circa approximately 1930, Klepper were manufacturing over 60 kayaks a day at their factory! There is a deep history of folding craft in this country, for both practical transportation and for pleasure. We had folding and Greenland kayak historians visit our booth this year, learning what they are calling the new generation of folding kayaks. It was a humbling experience for me. Understanding the history and the origin of these crafts gave me a much deeper perspective and commitment to what we’re doing at TRAK.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

~ Nolin