ACK Service Now Rated Elite by STELLAService!

According to STELLAService, ACK Customer Service isn’t just Excellent – it’s Elite!

STELLAService Badge
STELLAService Badge

You may have noticed the STELLAService badge decorating the bottom of our homepage along with our other awards. Today, we’re proud to announce that it has changed, now designating ACK.com Customer Service from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Elite’!

What does this mean exactly?

Not to toot our own horn, but it means our Customer Relationship Team is impressing some people out there! In particular, it impressed STELLAService, a third party, independent company that rates customer service performance of online businesses. They send secret shoppers out to evaluate the shopping experience of different sites – actually ordering, returning and interacting with customer service representatives. Their goal is to recognize websites that not only appreciate your business, but value your overall shopping experience as well.

We’re both proud and honored to have attained their highest level rating and hope that you find similar satisfaction shopping with us. We’ll continue to do our best in setting ourselves apart from our competitors with top rated service for readers and customers like you.

 

 

ACK Operations Growth Leads to Expansion in New Facility

Award Winning Outdoor Retailer Moving into New Centralized Warehouse

Austin, Texas (September 16, 2013) – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings LLC, announced today the leasing of a new 30,000 square foot warehouse to consolidate it’s two warehouses and all support functions. The transition is set to begin in October and be completed in time for the Holiday season. The new facility brings all non-store operations together with an increase of over 10,000 square feet for operational efficiency. Additionally, there is another 12,000 square feet in the same facility slated to be leased in 2015 for further expansion.

“Since moving into the current warehouse in 2008 we have more than quadrupled our product assortment and have pushed the limits on space both for products as well as people.“ said CEO, Peter Messana. “Consolidating three locations into one will allow for greater efficiency throughout the entire organization.”

The increased space also has significant impact for our customers as Adam Olson, Director of Internet Operations explains, “With the new facility, we will be able to run more efficiently and keep the high standards we have set for ourselves and our customers – providing fast shipping and superior service, with some breathing room.”

An authorized reseller of top brands such as Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Old Town Canoes & KayaksKelty and Thule, ACK provides high quality, affordable camping, hiking and paddlesports gear to everyone from the first-time camper to the professional angler. After taking over the company in 2005, brothers Peter and Steve Messana and friend Chris Hackerd have been devoted to ensuring the customer’s experience is top priority in both their stores as well as online.

Along with the warehouse expansion, ACK announced in August it will be opening a 5th store location in San Antonio, Texas this November. Similar to other store locations, ACK San Antonio will offer a broad selection of kayaks, stand up paddle boards, camping and other outdoor gear, kayak and SUP rentals as well as installation and repair services.

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 five physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, Spring, Houston and San Antonio, Texas.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with MSP Holdings, LLC, please contact Joseph Dowdy at 512-687-3010, or email pr@austinkayak.com.

New Faces To ACK Customer Service Team!

Changes For The ACK Customer Service Team

The 2013 summer has marked some big changes for the ACK Customer Service Team and we wanted to give you a better idea of who you’re talking to when you call in to ACK.com for assistance. We were sad to see two amazing representatives leave our team at the beginning of the summer to pursue new adventures. Rob Abercrombie is venturing on the Alaskan Frontier; guiding teens on paddling trips. Stephanie Borel is tackling her master’s degree in environmental biology in Oklahoma.

With these two all-stars leaving us and the busy summer months upon us, we are very excited to announce that three new members have joined team ACK! Please help us in welcoming Cassandra Matela, James Grantham & Kelsey Queen! You may have already had a chance to talk with these three when calling into ACK.com but we thought it’d be nice to give you a face to put with their name & voice.

Meet The New Team Members

ACK Customer Service Team Members
Welcome new ACK Customer Service team members
Cassandra, James & Kelsey!

Cassandra comes to ACK via Hawaii, where she grew up on the beaches which nurtured her love for paddling, surfing & hiking. She’s lived in Austin for a while now and really enjoys the lifestyle here.

James is not only new to ACK but Austin as well. He hails from Elizabeth City, NC and has lived near the ocean all his life. He’s an outdoor enthusiast & amateur nature photographer and is very excited to join the team!

Kelsey came to Austin at the age of 10 from Kansas and is proud to have kept her (somewhat) Yankee accent. She’s big into skiing and says that snowboarding is on her short list of things to learn.

Help us welcome these three by commenting below. Next time you call into ACK.com, they just might be the ones to pick up the phone.

 

 

[Photos] : ACK’s 2013 Austin Demo Days

We had an absolute blast at this past weekend’s Austin Demo Days at the Hyde Park Quarry and hope you did too. If you missed out, don’t fret! Not only can you check out the photo recap in this blog but you still have the chance to participate in Demo Days this coming weekend in San Marcos, Houston and Spring. For now, enjoy the photos and let us know your favorite kayak, canoe or SUP you were able to try out or what you have been dying to paddle!

Happy New Year!

We hope that 2012 was as special of a year for you as it was for us. We can already tell 2013 is also going to be an amazing year but let’s focus on a bit on retrospect. 2012 was a big year for us with significant expansion and new beginnings. Here are a few highlights:

Rack Boys
It started off with the launch of what we refer to as our store-within-a-store, Rack Boys both online and at each of our local stores. We saw a need to provide the same level of service to customers seeking auto racks, trailers and sport travel gear.

Kayak Angler Tournament Series
In 2011, we had the opportunity to take over Austin Kayak Fishing, a local kayak fishing forum. With that, we acquired the right to continue hosting one of the state’s largest freshwater kayak fishing tournaments otherwise known as the Kayak Angler Tournament Series. It was a learning process for us but in the end, we were happy with the results and ready for 2013! In fact, we just launched a new site to support the tournament.

Houston Store Fire
Not all was good in 2012. Back in March, our Houston store fell victim to a fire with significant damage to the property and inventory. This was a headache for our Houston staff having to work between a temporary location, on-site storage unit and construction, but in the end they prevailed and our Houston store had a major re-grand opening event and is now better than ever!

New ACK Branding
Also in March, we launched a new look and feel starting with the redesign of our logo and a new tagline, “Outfit You Adventure”. The goal was to capture the essence of what ACK is all about. While paddlesports is and will always be a core part of our business, the new branding better represented our expansion as an all encompassing outdoor adventure retailer.

iPad® & Mobile Optimized Websites
We saw a significant increase (over 2,000%) in iPad use of our website between 2011 and 2012 prompting the launch of our tablet optimized website. While we already had a mobile optimized version of the site, we decided it needed a little bit of a face lift and re-launched it. The mobile site was developed with a focus on providing customers with a shopping experience consistent with the iPad® tablet version.

New ACK Website
In November of 2012, we announced the re-launch of AustinKayak.com which was re-designed and re-engineered to deliver an enhanced outdoor adventure gear shopping experience. This was a huge undertaking specifically because it was built in-house and from the ground up. Based on our customer’s feedback, the end result has proven itself a huge success .

New Store
Most notably was the launch of a new store just North of the Houston area in Spring, Texas. The location was selected after careful consideration and in-depth market research. The results clearly identified a healthy and active lifestyle community interested in the great outdoors. The store has only been opened for a month and already is a huge hit in the community!

Two More Awards
We gotta brag a little don’t we? In 2012 we were honored to have received two awards including our second “Kayak Angling Retailer of the Year Award” in the “Kayak Angler Choice Awards” and our fourth Bizrate® Circle of Excellence award — BTW, all thanks to you.  :-)

Those were some of our most notable accomplishments but the list doesn’t stop there. We experienced many others such as major warehouse expansion efforts, technological enhancements, significant increases in our product inventory, new hires and much more. Expect to see a press release about these milestones soon. In the meantime, you can read up on some of the aforementioned accomplishments here.

All this was made possible by you, our customers, vendors, partners, families, friends and of course employees and we thank you for it. Once again, we want to wish you and yours a truly wonderful new year. We hope that your new year’s resolutions involve the great outdoors and we can’t wait to be a part of it.

The ACK Family

Press Release: Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK) Launches Re-Designed Outdoor Gear Website

Austin, Texas (November 12th, 2012) – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC announces the re-launch of AustinKayak.com — re-designed and re-engineered to deliver an enhanced outdoor adventure gear shopping experience.

Customer service was the driving force behind the re-launch of the website according to Peter Messana, CEO of MSP Holdings, “every single enhancement, whether on the front or back-end was examined, refined and delivered from a customer’s perspective, we were very cognizant of the fact that we had to develop a site that was equal to or better than the existing site to continue to win praise and awards.”

The re-launch of AustinKayak.com also signifies the start of a new era in ACK’s evolving business model, encompassing a wider array of outdoor adventure gear categories such as camping, hiking and snow sports. Known to be one of the nations largest paddlesports retailers, ACK will always remain true to its core but with the re-launch of AustinKayak.com, the evolution has become more apparent.

“While the site’s new look and feel emulates what ACK has become to date” said Peter, “it’s what you don’t see that is harnessing the power of where we are going to take this tomorrow,” referring to a highly customizable infrastructure ready to accommodate new business goals.

New Technology and Design Enhancements:

  • Improved Navigation – Refined product category and menu structure and product searching and filtering capabilities
  • Google “Search as You Type (SAYT)” – Predictive search technology (currently only available to select retailers)
  • User Friendly Interface – Updated look and feel throughout and a cleaner more attractive product catalog and presentation
  • Back-end Stability & Speed – Built from the ground with key components of the website hosted in the “cloud” allowing for scalability and fail-over abilities while producing faster response times
  • Customizable – 100% engineered and designed internally without any 3rd party software packages, enabling a future-proof and highly customizable infrastructure

The website re-launch was part of a cohesive strategy involving ACK’s internal development, merchandising and marketing teams. The site is currently live at www.AustinKayak.com.

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.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with MSP Holdings, LLC, please call Roland Jimenez at 512-687-3010, or email pr@austinkayak.com.

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Press Release: Outdoor Retailer ACK, Launches Latest Mobile Optimized Online Store

Austin, Texas (July 12, 2012) – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC today announced the latest release of its mobile optimized version of their online store at ACK.com.

The new release of the website, which automatically and seamlessly detects a visitor’s device, was developed with a focus on providing customers with a shopping experience consistent with the recently launched iPad® tablet version. Along with full ecommerce capabilities and access to the entire ACK library of products, users now have account management and order tracking functionality.

Upon visiting the site with a mobile device, users are greeted with three easy to navigate options including search, browse by category and browse by brand. The user interface has been updated with a cleaner more inviting design focused on getting customers to the products they are interested in with as few clicks as possible.

“It’s just another logical step in keeping up with the ever changing evolution of our customer’s expectations when shopping at ACK.com,” said Peter Messana, CEO of MSP Holdings, LLC, “we are on a forward thinking mission to provide them the best shopping experience possible no matter the access device.”

In addition to ecommerce enhancements, users now have access to a variety of valuable resources including how-tos and videos. And, for customers looking to locate one of ACK’s three stores, they now have the ability to utilize their mobile phone’s built in GPS to mark their location for getting directions to a store.

To view the mobile optimized version of the website, visit ACK.com with any smartphone device.

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.ACK.com and www.RackBoys.com and within three physical locations in Austin, San Marcos and Houston, Texas.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Austin Canoe and Kayak or Rack Boys, please call Roland Jimenez at 512-687-3010, or email pr@austinkayak.com.

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Press Release: Outdoor Retailer ACK, Launches iPad® Optimized Online Store – ACK.com

Austin, Texas (May, 29 2012) – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC today announced the launch of an Apple® iPad® optimized version of their online store at ACK.com enabling customers to quickly and easily purchase outdoor gear anytime and anywhere.

Users who access the website via an iPad will automatically and seamlessly be directed to the optimized version which boasts a sleeker more refined user interface making it convenient for those on the go. Customers can expect the same shopping experience they currently enjoy on the regular version of the site including access to the complete inventory database, detailed product information, full ecommerce capabilities, search tools, account management/order tracking and other functionality.

The launch of the iPad version of site is one facet of a much larger mobile strategy involving a fully integrated user experience for all customers — regardless of how they choose to access ACK.com. This strategy focuses on a wide variety of mobile devices and technologies but the iPad version was considered a top priority based on the impressive increase of customers using iPads to access ACK.com. ACK reported an increase of over 2,000% in customer iPad use versus last year-to-date.

“2012 is considered to be the year of tablets with industry stats showing staggering increases in use,” said Peter Messana, CEO of MSP Holdings, LLC, “the same holds true for our very own customer base which is currently showing that over 40% of our mobile traffic is coming from iPads.” Peter added, “It all comes back to providing our customers the best user experience regardless of platform or device and they can expect to see more of this soon.”

ACK is will be launching other tablet versions and redesigning the current mobile smart phone version over the course of the next several months. To view the iPad optimized version of the website, visit ACK.com with any iPad.

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.ACK.com and www.RackBoys.com and within three physical locations in Austin, San Marcos and Houston, Texas.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Austin Canoe and Kayak or Rack Boys, please call Roland Jimenez at 512-687-3010, or email pr@austinkayak.com.

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When Less is More – Email!

Over the past 5+ years ACK has been known for stellar communication on orders. Currently, when you place an order you get a confirmation email immediately — typically before the page finishes loading. Then we fire off an “Order Processed” email to let you know we have charged your credit card and that it is getting ready for shipment and finally, a “Shipped” email. This all sounds great but we have gotten so efficient at processing and shipping your orders that all three emails are being sent within an hour. We realize the short time span between emails, specifically the processed and shipped, may have actually caused some confusion.

To lighten the load of your email inboxes, eliminate any confusion and to ensure greater deliverability of emails, we are moving to a new system that will send just two emails if your order is shipping that day or three emails if the “Estimated Shipping” date is in the future.

Our guess is that most of you won’t even notice this change as the processed and shipped emails were delivered within minutes of each other anyway. However, we hope you appreciate one less email and the same wicked fast speed we’re known for.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Peter @ACK

ACK.com

It’s been a long 6 years but we’re finally able to celebrate a small victory — acquiring www.ack.com! Each May we were greeted with disappointment as the web address was always renewed, but things changed this year as we finally got a hold of what we now consider one of our most prized possessions, ACK.com.

It’s a small feat for what we consider a large victory, so what does that mean for you? We are now able to provide our customers 72% more time to do other things than typing a web address (the address is 72% shorter). ACK.com actually makes our current short link , http://yakr.us, not all that interesting any longer, but we will still use it as it helps identify which is a regular link as opposed to a shortened link.

As we begin our migration to the new URL you probably won’t notice many changes, other than seeing a shorter resolving web address in your browser window. You can already access our site via the new address at http://ack.com as we have a temporary redirection taking place.  For those that want to free up about 2 seconds of your life…assuming you type 60 words per minute, give it a spin.

Peter
ACK HQ