Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania Portal’

emotion kayakThere aren’t may outdoor companies in Pennsylvania that make their own products – but, Wyomissing (Reading area) based Emotion Kayaks (EK) has had great success doing just that.

Entrepreneurs Tom and Diane Strauss launched Emotion Kayaks in 2002 after 20 years as the owner of several ski shops. I don’t know if they were disenchanted with the retail industry or if they just wanted to move up the value chain, but their 20 years of experience has served them well. Several years ago, Canoe & Kayak magazine identified Emotion Kayaks the fastest growing kayak company in the U.S. After selling 1,200 kayaks in the first year, EK now sells over 30,000 kayaks.  They are distributed through several hundred dealers in North America…Not bad for a company that’s less than 10 years old!

Tom, the president of EK, credits at least some of their success to the fact that the Strauss family loves kayaking and might be considered experts in the craft by some. They spend family vacations paddling up and down the east coast and in canoe and kayak Mecca’s like Minnesota, Michigan and Florida.

Designer, Jim Snyder, is also an important ingredient to the success of EK. Snyder has been dubbed one of the 5 “most inspirational” paddlers alive. That’s a pretty sizable accolade considering there are 20+ million paddlers in the United States alone.  His technical prowess has allowed EK to develop some of the most reputable recreational and fishing kayaks in the industry. EK has won “Recreational Kayak of the year” in Outside, Paddler and Canoe & Kayak magazine in 2007, 2008, and 2009. If you do the quick math – you realize that it took EK only 5 years to rocket to the top echelon in the kayak industry.  Such success can only be attribute to a special combination of a dedication to quality, absolute determination and a lot of passion.

Emotion Kayak is based 100% out of Pennsylvania – but it outsources its manufacturing to rotomolding and blowmolding companies around the United States. That’s right – EK products are Made in the USA, but more importantly – the company is helping to build a dynamic economy in Pennsylvania.

The EK website lists 25 retail outlets for their kayaks in Pennsylvania – offering easy access to anyone across the state interested in a kayak.

Kayaking is attracts a lot of recreationalists who are interested in having the flexibility of being able to navigate oceans, rivers, streams and lakes and would like the option of “going it alone” or with a partner. Kayaking is also popular with fisherman, offering unparalleled ability for sportsman to access unbelievable fishing, while preserving the serenity that draws people to the sport.

Check out EK’s website to learn more about kayaking and browse the company’s products…

Company Website


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Vacon, a $320 million (2007 revenue) global engine manufacturer based in Finland, is locating its North American headquarters in Chambersburg, Pa.  The facility will hold both product development and testing facilities under the same roof and is projected to create 94 jobs.  If all goes as plan, the company will open the facility in 2009. 

Link to Press Release

Company Website

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An article in the Pittsburgh Post this week highlights the relative strength of Western Pennsylvania’s manufacturing in 2008.   The survey was completed in September, so it doesn’t include the meltdown months of October and November that have sent manufacturing into a tailspin nation wide.  What’s interesting, is the article sites the fact that 78% of the companies surveyed increase employment over the past 3 years.   That’s good news for an industry that’s been under duress from cheap imports and offshoring.

In some sense, Pennsylvania is more capable of handling the downturn that most states.  The State’s manufacturing base is diversified since the days of the Steel industry.  There is a solid number of companies – most of them private – making components and equipment used around the world.   Timing is important as well – Pennsylvania went through tough times in the 1980’s and has since rebounded  – there are a lot of smaller companies that have found niche businesses with few competitors.

Link to Article

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