For the first time in years, I decided to take a week off to spend it with my kids over spring break. It was a great fun filled week of camping, hiking, paddling and just enjoying quality time with the brats. Just when my week off was coming to an end, I was delighted to find out that I would be representing ACK at the 2012 Hobie Dealer Conference. Unfortunately, this was partly due to the fact that we recently experienced a fire at our Houston Store resulting in ACK owners, Peter, Steve and Chris scrambling to make sure that the store continued operating so I obliged with my assigned duty.
I packed up my bags and headed west to beautiful San Diego. I honestly didn’t know what to expect as I have never been to a dealer conference but I must say, Hobie’s hospitality was nothing short of five stars. While each day was filled with useful and insightful information, there was no shortage of good food and fellowship — and of course product demos! So yeah, good times but enough gloating. What I wanted to share was more focused on Hobie, their commitment to quality, the future of paddling and how it all trickles down to our customers.
I had the rare opportunity to experience something few will ever get the chance to do which was take the grand tour of Hobie’s manufacturing facilities. I wish I could have taken some photos but out of respect I didn’t, wouldn’t want to share their trade secrets. What I can tell you is how impressed I was with the craftsmanship and the detailed quality control that is applied to everything they make and I mean everything. From the hand built Mirage Drive to hand sewn sails and everything in between — all made here in the USA. Even more impressive was the rigorous testing that is all part of the process.
Of course, this doesn’t even begin to include the meticulous engineering that goes into each product and those behind it all. It was such an eye opener to meet the team and learn and see how the engineering process works and evolves, from the original Mirage Drive design to the latest technologies — which you’ll be able to see soon…moving on.
The entire experience helped validate what I had already known for years in that Hobie truly is a quality brand that our customers can rely on. They have an amazing team, some of which have been with Hobie for over 30 years and I am honored to have been a part of this event.