We are all related in a family, whether we’re in the next room or in our case, 11,000 km (7,000 miles) away! That’s the distance between our TRAK headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and the coastal town of Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines. Being straight west of Manila across Manila Bay on the South China Sea, there’s a lot more open water over there and so fitting, because that’s the side of our family that actually builds our kayaks.
Nestled under the lush jungle-covered mountains and in the shadow of a towering dormant volcano, Mt. Mariveles, is a world-class outdoor gear factory and the manufacturing facility for the TRAK 2.0 Ultimate Touring Kayak.
Housed in a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled room, the most demanding and skill-intensive production process in the creation of a TRAK is quietly taking place. This is where the skin of the TRAK is born – where the precisely cut hull and deck fabric pieces are hot-air welded and seamed by the skilled hands of our Filipino team.
The TRAK Team of about 20 in the Philippines has been training and refining the manufacturing process for more than 5 years now. It is always a joy to visit our factory. There’s such a wonderful balance of beaming smiles then intensely concentrated focus. Filipinos love life, that much is clear. But when it comes to working as a team, the traditional principle of Bayanihan runs the show and everybody works together in concert to build a TRAK. That’s pure magic. That’s actually what it takes to create an exceptional product.
It represents fundamental security for all members of the family, and it makes a much bigger difference to life when that security is present. It makes the difference between food being on the table or a roof being over your head, or not. That relationship to “job security” is not the same in most of North America, where it might make a difference between a one car garage or a two car garage. In simple contrast; for what we spend on one latte, your average Filipino will buy lunch for a week.
Some of them work on the aluminum frame components, some on the skin or maybe quality control and final inspection. The bottom line is that they all have a part of themselves in each and every TRAK that gets shipped to us at TRAK HQ. We’ve worked with them side-by-side and face-to-face to make sure they are supported in producing the very finest product possible. We are like family now.
We’ve brought some perspective and balance to the fearful perception that offshore factories are all “sweat shops” and the reactions to the pervasive economic damage of “outsourcing” to recognize that the world has shrunk and our family is global now. In fact, for as long as we’ve had canoes (and kayaks), sailors and merchants alike have been navigating across the Pacific and trading all kinds of goods, exporting and importing everything from shells to food. The world is richer for it and it is a direct way we’re connected globally.
Here in the Philippines, we’ve found a unique manufacturing partner with integrity and compassion. We’ve seen it with our own eyes and felt it in our hearts. This is a work environment that truly values every individual and the unique skills they can bring to the final product. It’s also a facility where you could eat off the floor and where the job gets done so that we can, in turn, make promises to our customers. It is a company that takes care of people, that, in turn, has made every employee into an extended family member with the rights and the values we expect in our own society.
If you’ve recently bought a TRAK or you’re thinking of owning one, there’s a piece of the Philippine Islands and the Pacific Ocean, of that massive volcano and the tropical jungle, of the minds and hearts of the TRAK team through the many hands that had to work together to make the ultimate high-performance portable kayak to help unleash your life.
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