Green Warehouse Brings Cost Savings to Outdoor Adventure Customers

MSP Holdings, LLC Integrates Eco-Friendly Mobile Inventory Management System

Outdoor Adventure Retailer Warehouse Tablet
ACK warehouse employee pulls product for a customer order with new digital inventory management system on a Nexus 7 tablet from Google.

Austin, Texas – July 16th, 2013Outdoor adventure retailer MSP Holdings LLC, parent company of Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), announced today the integration of a new mobile management system in its Austin, Texas warehouse, aimed at improving speed and accuracy as well as reducing its environmental footprint and operational costs.

An authorized reseller of top brands such as Hobie, The North Face and Yeti, ACK equips everyone from the novice camper to the professional angler with high quality, affordable camping, hiking and paddlesports gear. Since its initial opening over 20 years ago, ACK has been devoted to improving its customer’s experience not only in its four Texas stores, but online as well. By initiating a mobile warehouse management system utilizing Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets from Google, all warehouse functions are now paperless, utilizing real-time data which allows for quick and accurate order processing and enables ACK to pass along the cost savings to its customers.

“Our customers are what matter the most to us. When we invest in technology, every decision we make is driven by how it will help the customer.” explains ACK CEO, Peter Messana. “The use of tablets not only does that but also reduces our paper consumption and our carbon footprint.”

Along with ensuring every shopping experience is top-of-the-line, ACK is determined to do its part in protecting the natural environments in which its customers cherish. In 2009, ACK was awarded the WasteSmart award for reducing waste, reusing packaging and buying recycled product in the workplace from the City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services. Going digital was simply the next step in a long line of green initiatives that ACK has implemented over the years. By integrating a mobile management system, its warehouse will be able to reduce the amount of paper used each day by over 90%, continuing that trend.

“Having tablets in the hands of our employees is the most efficient way for us to pick, pack and ship orders to our customers,” added Adam Olson, Director of Internet Operations. “As we advance to this new technology, it is exciting to know that we are improving the shopping experience and doing our part to protect and preserve the environment at the same time.”

About MSP Holdings, LLC

MSP Holdings, LLC operates Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), an award-winning paddlesports and outdoor retailer and Rack Boys a vehicle rack and sports travel outfitter dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. Both retail outfits are based out of the central Texas area, with their respective online stores at www.AustinKayak.com and www.RackBoys.com and within four physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, Spring and Houston, Texas.

For more information about Austin Canoe and Kayak, contact:

Kelly Leff
Marketing Director
Tel: 512-687-3010
pr@austinkayak.com

 

In Focus Videos: Fish Storage while Kayak Fishing

Now that you’ve landed the fish you’ve been stalking all day long what are you going to do with ‘em so they stay fresh until you can get home? Well, we knew you’d ask that question so we went ahead and filmed a couple of In Focus videos with Jerron, our resident kayak fishing aficionado, to show you some of your options. Jerron talks a bit about Stringers, which allow you to keep the fish in the water at the side of the boat until you’re ready to head home as well as Catch Coolers, which conveniently fit on your boat and provided specialized materials to help keep your catch fresh. Have a look and let us know what you think!

-Trent @ ACK

In Focus Video: Dry Bag Options

We’re big fans of Dry Bags here at ACK. We use them for just about everything when it comes to the outdoors. They have so many applications and there are so many slightly different versions of Dry Bags that it might seem a bit overwhelming to know what to look for and to know exactly what it is you’re looking at in the first place. We decided to take the guess work out of it and filmed an In Focus video to break down the differences between brands, sizes, materials and everything in between. Enjoy the video and let us know how you’ve used Dry Bags on your adventures in the comments below!

-Trent @ ACK

In Focus: Camping / Road Trip Gear

If you’ve followed along with my recent travels, you know I took a trip out to West Texas for a quick four day weekend and after all the dust settled, I decided to make a few videos to showcase some of the products I used. Take a look!

A clean campsite is a wonderful thing and if you’re tired of dirt or sand gathering on your ground covering, the CGear Sand-Free Mat is perfect for you. I recently took the 8′ x 8′ version (we also have a 10′ x 10′) out into the real world so check the video for the verdict!

Adventuring can work up a thirst but with the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler, you don’t ever have to be too far from cold beverages. I recently took the cooler on a road trip to test out its cooling powers and the results are in the video.

I used the NRS Dri-Stow dry bag to hold all my clothes and gear on my road trip and used the NRS Tuff Sack dry bag to hold essential “just-incase” items for the car. These are two tough bags that lived up to their initial promise so watch the video for my insight.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be without your music or mobile devices (mostly…) when you’re out camping or on the water. I used the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel / Rock Out Speaker Combo and I wanted to showcase this unique device and those awesome little speakers.

-Trent @ ACK

Product Testing in West Texas

I recently embarked on a trip out to the great wide open of West Texas and took some products we sell here at ACK along for the trip. Let me start right off the bat by saying everything I used served its purpose very well and I will give you a rundown of what I used, how I used it and what I may have run into along the way.

I really didn’t want to go the route of the cramped duffle bag for this trip so I decided to use a couple of different bags from NRS: the large Dri-Stow bag and the small Tuff Sack dry bag.

NRS Dri-Stow (large)
NRS Dri-Stow (large)

For four days worth of my clothes and other assorted items, I used the large Dri-Stow bag and still had plenty of room, even without tightly smooshing things down. The bag seals up very securely at the top and creates its own carry handle for added convenience. I always like it when one things serves multiple purposes and this bag certainly does. All the Dri-Stow bags are see through which is really great if you have a lot packed in them. You can pack it in such a way that everything is nicely visible. I packed my towels at the bottom of the bag which seemed like a mistake when I wanted to get them out for a shower after a long day of hiking but even though a lot of other gear was on top of them, I just slid my hand down the side of the bag and was able to pull my towels out without disturbing the rest of the contents. Had I packed it again I probably would’ve left the towels on top but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. If you have a bunch of wet gear you want to keep away from your dry stuff, throw it in this bag and you can rest assured it will keep the two separate and won’t leak all over your dry gear if you seal it up properly.

I used the Tuff Sack for the necessary stuff I like to take with me on a road trip like trash bags, plastic grocery bags, and zip-lock bags because you never know when you might need that stuff out on the road or out on the trails! While I didn’t have to use those items very much, I liked having it sealed away in the bag and could rest assured that once I had properly closed it, those items would stay in the bag away from the rest of my neatly packed car.

I listen to music while I work, drive, clean the house or during just about any other activity. Its always on and why should I have to be away from music while I’m out on the trails, the water or sitting by the pool? I shouldn’t and neither should you thanks to the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel and Rock Out Speaker Combo. There’s been an influx of solar powered devices in the market recently and I have to admit that I was skeptical of this one. I wasn’t sure how well it would work or if it was just a gimmick to begin with. The Nomad 7 panels work wonderfully with the Rock Out speakers and will charge them in about four hours. I had them sitting in the back window of my car soaking up the sun on my drive out west and they were charged by the time I got there. The speakers have an internal battery so they won’t drain your devices’ and will stay charged for about 20 hours, according to the manufacturer. I used them over a couple of days and certainly not for 20 hours but I didn’t have to recharge them in between and that was nice. The solar panel has a spot for a USB plug, which charges the speakers and can also charge your mobile device in about one to two hours. I charged my device in my car so I didn’t use the solar panels for that but I’ve heard from others that it works well with a cell phone as well. There is also a port for a 12 volt adapter, one of which comes with the package, and that will charge any applicable device you have as well.

CGear Sand-Free Mat at Balmorhea State Park

Cleanliness is a big deal to me and after using the CGear Sand-Free Mat on this trip, I don’t think I would use another ground cover for a basecamp or just lounging around outdoors at a festival around town or at the Barton Creek Greenbelt for a day with friends. I took the CGear mat with me when I went to Balmorhea State Park to lay out by their pristine spring-fed pool. I had my gear and my towels laid out on the mat and the dual-layer weave technology kept sand and other small debris off the mat with ease. When something small gets on top, all you have to do is run your hand over the top layer and the debris falls through. It really is that easy. I was skeptical at first but the mat works really well. I was also worried about it getting hot in the sun but that just didn’t happen.

NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler with two larger Gatorades at Balmorhea State Park

The last product I was able to enjoy on my trip was the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler. This little bag can hold a lot, keep it cold, is easy to pack and even easier to clean. I loaded a six pack and a frozen ice pack into the cooler before I hit the road. After driving for six plus hours, I was surprised to find that my six pack was still cool inside the Dura Soft cooler. I really couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have to put my drinks in the fridge and could just pop one open as soon as I got there. Truly awesome. Aside from the six pack, at a different point in my trip, I put two of the larger Gatorade bottles and one additional small water bottle in the cooler and it held those with room to spare! Also, the liner on the cooler is removable so when I was finished and ready to clean it out, all I had to do was remove the liner (it fastens in with velcro), clean it out in the sink and pop it back in the cooler. When there’s nothing in it, you can smoosh it down and pack it with the rest of your gear without taking up that precious cargo space. NRS really thought ahead when they were designing this bag.

-Trent @ ACK

 

BlackPak Your ‘Yak Winner Announced!

Brian enjoying a new fishing spot with a friend.
Brian enjoying a new fishing spot with a friend.

April has brought over forty great entries into our “BlackPak Your ‘Yak!” kayak fishing photo contest, sponsored by YakAttack, on Facebook and close to a thousand votes. Despite some last minute competition between several of the entries, only one could emerge as our grand prize winner, and that winner was Brian Martin! Congrats to Brian and a huge thank you to all of our contestants who submitted entries. There were a ton of great photos! Keep an eye out for more contests and chances to win prizes soon.

As the grand prize winner, Brian will be receiving an ACK branded YakAttack BlackPak and accessory package that includes a Hawg Trough with Hawg Trough Mounting Brackets, 3 Extra BlackPak Rod Holders, PanFish Camera Pole and a VISICarbon Pro Light.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

[Trip Recap]: Venturing West

I was born in Texas. I have a full-sized state flag on my wall. I’ve seen every single episode of King of the Hill (that’s about 95 hours of my life). I love this state and when I was recently planning a vacation I didn’t see any reason to leave it so I headed out West which is arguably the most beautiful portion of this grand land I call home.

The plan was to stay in Marfa, the small, “weird” town featuring more art galleries than stop lights (to be fair, there’s only one stop light) and a very friendly, eclectic population. I’d taken a trip out there a couple of years ago with several friends while I was in college and one of them moved to the town after he graduated so now I had a place to lay my head in between my day trips. The format of this trip was designed more for maximum exploration rather than relaxation which has its pros and cons but I sat around Marfa a lot on my last trip out there so I wanted to see more of the sights this time.

I made the drive in a a lot less time than the first trip and that was a nice surprise. I was expecting to arrive in the evening on Thursday but instead had the whole afternoon to relax and wait for my friend to get off work so we could catch up. He showed me around Marfa’s NPR station, KRTS, where he works and I had the chance to venture out around the town and see what had changed since my last visit. Someone told us about an art opening in what appeared to be some sort of old refrigerated building so we had a walk through the (seemingly) makeshift gallery. Later in the evening, we ate at one of the many great places to eat around town, Maiya’s, which turned out to be the most expensive meal I’d ever eaten but hey, I was on vacation! Afterwards, we walked a few blocks to the Lost Horse Saloon for a $1 beer and then Padre’s for some live music followed by some much needed rest.

There was one thing on Friday’s agenda: Big Bend National Park. I’ve wanted to visit the park for as long as I can remember and it’s a shame I didn’t spend more than an incomplete day there but my time in Big Bend’s “splendid isolation” was truly awe-inspiring and I know I will be back as soon as I can manage. The drive from Marfa to Big Bend included a stop in another “weird” West Texas town, Terlingua. They claim to be the birthplace of all chili cook-offs worldwide and it’s also (basically) a ghost town. The old cemetery and ghost town are both worth checking out and I’ve heard there’s good food and drink in a couple spots in the tiny town but I had to get moving on to Big Bend.

After crowd-sourcing ideas for my trip to Big Bend on my Facebook page, I decided to climb to the second highest peak in Texas, Emory Peak. I looked over a map at Panther Junction, one of the park’s information centers, and made the short drive down the road to Chisos Basin where I parked my car and headed to the trail. With excellent maintenance, the trail was easy to navigate for a novice hiker and it took about five and a half hours roundtrip with breaks for water, food, rest along the way and a moment at the top to take it all in. There were signs all along the trail warning hikers to look out for bears and mountain lions but the most ferocious beasts I saw were a couple of mule deer and the birds along the way, which are a birders dream and it’s a shame I didn’t know more about them. The trip up to the peak basically consisted of walking up stairs from switchback to switchback which was quite a workout. Once you get closer to Emory, the trail gives way to a rocky, steeper hike with plenty of “false summits” and getting to the peak wasn’t a piece of  cake but it was well worth the view. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day and I could see clear into Mexico from the very top. The trip back down took about half the time and I didn’t pass many people on the way up or down. It turns out, Big Bend is one of the least visited national parks which is even more of a reason to go. I should also mention that the weather was absolutely sublime. I barely broke a sweat on the way down and there was a nice breeze to keep me cool as a climbed to the peak.

After a much needed shower and a good night’s rest, it was off to Balmorhea State Park for their crystal-clear, San Solomon Springs-fed pool for some relaxation. Lots of fish, including Mexican tetra and channel catfish, swim alongside you in the pool and there were a good number of scuba divers enjoying the 25 foot depths as well. The pool wasn’t too crowded but is large enough to avoid being cramped during the less-visited months. There was a nice horned owl in the tree right near my chosen spot and a group of bird watchers came to admire it as I was leaving. From the springs, I made my way to Monahans Sandhills State Park for their rolling white sand dunes. You can’t see the extent of the dunes from the highway coming into the park but once you get over a hill past the entrance they come into view and they are gorgeous. I’ve never seen anything like them and I was glad I made the stop. There’s plenty to do there, from camping to horseback riding, but I was pretty tired by that point and stayed around long enough to take some photos and get buried in the sand. After heading back to Marfa, I went to see the Marfa Mystery Lights which I’d missed on my first trip. I’m not quite sure what to make of what I saw out there but others at the viewing area were convinced they were seeing something otherworldly and their excitement was certainly endearing. I’m all for the paranormal though, so keep the mystery alive, Marfa!

The next morning I sauntered around Marfa for a bit and then headed back to reality here in Austin. I can’t imagine the trip having gone much better and it certainly couldn’t have been much more beautiful. The big open skys of West Texas and the friendly people will call me back sooner rather than later. In the meantime, enjoy the photos while I enjoy daydreaming.

Stay tuned for another blog from me detailing some of the products I used on this trip including the Goal Zero Nomad 7 / Rock Out Speaker Combo, the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler and the Molokai from CamelBak among others!

-Trent @ ACK

Trent’s Trip Planning Tips!

From my last trip west..

I’ve been working long weeks here at ACK recently (thanks to Austin and San Marcos Demo Days)  and my mind has been venturing west so I’ve decided that I will too! A buddy of mine moved to the little art / ranching community of Marfa, TX shortly after graduating from UT and I’ve been there once before on a camping trip with him and some other friends a couple of years ago. I didn’t get a chance / didn’t take the time to explore the vast beauty and big sky of West Texas so this time I’m planning ahead.

First, the long eight-hour (give or take) drive will take me to Marfa where I plan to explore the town some more (shouldn’t take long) and catch up with my old college buddy at one of the two bars in town. Then, I will wake up early the next morning and head an hour north from town, through the Davis Mountains, and on to Balmorhea State Park where the crowning jewel is a crystal-clear spring-fed swimming pool in the high mountain desert. From there, I will head another hour north of Balmorhea to the Monahans Sandhills State Park where you can ride a horse through the sand dunes or slide down ‘em on a trashcan lid if you’re so inclined, among other things.

This would be a good time to talk about my Trip Planning Tip #1: Always (well… mostly – getting lost isn’t all that bad sometimes) know where you’re going and how much it will cost. If you’re driving, use a resource like Gas Buddy to figure out how much your fuel costs will be. If you’re taking a trip on limited time like I am (four days for me with two of those primarily spent driving) it’s a good idea to use resources like Google Maps to plan the trip and your state and national park websites. Balmorhea Springs, for instance, is closed later in May for cleaning which I wouldn’t have known had I not planned ahead. It’s also helpful to take cash in case the parks charge a fee for entrance or something like a rental disk to use while sliding down the dunes at Monahans.

After that day trip, I plan to head back to Marfa for some R&R with friends and then take off to Terlingua, a small “ghost town” that plays host to an annual chili festival and houses a few good dive bars and restaurants that I’ve been told to check out. After Terlingua it’s off the to the Big Bend National Park for lots of hiking, sight-seeing, photography and maybe even a dip in their hot springs!

Now’s the time for Trip Planning Tip #2: Crowd source ideas for your trip. In this digital age with seemingly all knowledge at our fingertips, it can be hard to find out what you really want to see versus what might end up being a “tourist trap”. That’s why I put out a message on Facebook asking my friends for advice on Big Bend and I got back a ton of responses with detailed experiences and “pro-tips” from people who have been many times or just once and whose skill sets range from novice to expert. Now I have a good idea of what I want to do and my friends did all the work for me!

Those are the planned highlights of my trip and I will be reporting back with how things went, some product field testing results, lots of photos and plenty of new experiences to share with our readers!

-Trent @ ACK

[Photos]: ACK’s 2013 San Marcos Demo Days

Another weekend full of Demo Days and another great time. Thanks to all those who joined us across Central Texas at the Austin, San Marcos, Houston and Spring Demo Days. We had a blast hanging out with some old friends and made plenty of new ones that will hopefully last for years to come. We hope you had fun and enjoy the photos!

-Trent @ ACK