By Alex Matthews
It's no secret - times have been extremely challenging lately. From global pandemics to international wars, the resulting chaos has created economic uncertainty, serious supply chain issues, spiraling costs, and diminished supply in all market sectors. And paddle sports are no exception.
Current Designs Kayaks is a good example. Their entire production capacity for this coming summer sold out in pre-season in 1 day. As a dealer, if you didn't place a pre-season order months ago within that 24-hour period, then you were out of luck in getting any product for this coming summer season. And there is no potential for in-fill mid-season orders either. If we don’t already have it on order now, then the earliest that we can get any kayak is for next spring 2023. That's how high demand for product is at this time. And how tightly stretched the kayak manufacturer is to fill orders. Operating at full capacity, Current Designs still has to turn orders away. While that's a good problem to have (it's great to be in such demand), it’s also very tricky to operate dependably right at the edge of full capacity. Any setback or disruption to production puts the boat builder in the uncomfortable position of having to "catch up again" in order to fulfill promised orders in a timely fashion, further increasing pressure on staff, suppliers, shippers and so on. This high-wire balancing act is a hard one to maintain successfully.
Then things got worse. Confronted with significant cost increases for raw materials, fuel, freight, and everything else, Current Designs were in an untenable position and had to increase their prices - effectively "moving the goalposts" in regard to set pre-season pricing. Far from being a unique predicament for Current Designs, most manufacturers were confronting this exact same dilemma.
With no workable alternative, Current Designs sent out the message (see below) to all their dealers. Prices were all going up effective immediately. Forget pre-season price lists for 2022 – that was all out the window and costs on our order went up 14% or so.
This unfortunately is our new reality: costs are increasing across the board.
But for me, my happy place has long been paddling. Kayaking is where I find easy respite from day to day concerns and big worries. And where I consistently find fun and health! Whether cruising with friends on flat water, or catching waves during a surf session, playing in current, or poking around the bay looking for moon snails, my kayak continues to be one of my best ever investments in the pursuit of happiness. Yes, prices have gone up, but paddling remains a tremendous value: nothing has ever given me more enjoyment per dollar than paddling!
So here’s a big shout out and thank you to Current Designs for continuing to make great kayaks even when the going gets tough! Yes, boats cost more now… so lets make sure to have more fun than ever in 2022!
"We’ve all felt the pressure of inflation over the past year, as shortages and supply chain disruptions drove prices ever higher. Consumer inflation is at 40-year highs. Prices for raw materials are even higher.
This year, for the first time, none of our vendors were willing to enter into a price contract. We’ve seen increases from all of them. In most cases, we received no notice of price increase; we just got the invoice.
Here is high-level summary of what we’ve experienced since accepting orders last June:
- Vinylester Resin (our do-everything liquid resin) - up 45%
- Polyaramid/Kevlar (heart and soul of our brands) - up 30%
- Aluminum - up 20%
- Anodization - up 20%
- Polyethylene Powder (PE - produced from natural gas) - up 30% - this will continue to climb
- Natural Gas - up 100%
- Foam Bulkheads - up as much as 30%
- Wenonah Logistics costs - up 30-45% depending on geography
- Freight from Asia - up as much as 450% - impacts many of our domestic suppliers
- T-Formex gunwales - up 15%
- And the list goes on and on…
Literally everything we purchase costs more and there is no relief in sight.
As you can readily see above, we are backed into an unsustainable situation. What we hoped was transitory inflation is proving to not be the case; at least not on the timescale of a paddlesport’s season. In the history of Wenonah, we cannot remember increasing prices mid-season, ever. Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to continue absorbing increases of such magnitude. Regrettably, the prices on our canoes and kayaks are increasing now.
Our price increases are modest compared to gas, groceries and home energy costs. We are in all ways keeping the impacts as small as possible.
Price increases begin with all watercraft departing our campus on and after March 1, 2022 and will remain in place until further notice. Our consumer facing websites represent these revised prices now.
If you have additional questions, please contact your Wenonah Canoe & Current Designs sales representative. Our entire sales team is standing by as Partners in the Voyage."