Chris Hackerd, VP of Store Operations and one of three ACK co-owners, is an avid mountain biker, birder, ‘yak angler and all around outdoors-man. Recently, Chris traveled east to North Carolina to celebrate his grand mother’s 80th birthday and took the opportunity to visit many of the manufacturers based out of the area including Confluence, Legacy, Werner, Eno, Astral & Feel Free/Pyrahna. Below is part one of his trip.

First Stop, Confluence

Landed in Greenville, SC and the first spot on the docket was to hit up Confluence Watersports. They have a new manufacturing facility that I was dying to see. However I had to make a quick detour to Quaker Steak and Lube when I saw a sign from the highway promoting the top notch wing joint. It was a place I frequented as a college kid in Ohio.

Walking through the doors of Confluence I bumped into so many familiar faces from the Outdoor Retailer show. I was stunned at how large the new facility was. I met up with Scott our customer service rep and started the tour. He walked me through R and D, Customer service and I stumbled on a quality control meeting with the top brass. Everyone was so nice and happy to see me.

Growing up in Detroit, manufacturing was a part of my life – my father was a 35 year employee of Ford Motor Company. The similarities of the environment were not lost on me and it warmed my heart to see American manufacturing taking place. This was the first time I was seeing how kayaks are made and it was an eye opening experience. I actually got to see the old method of roto-molding kayaks where the mold rotated and the oven actually moved versus the new method where the molds rotated through a 3 stage process of heating, cooling and retraction all while spinning and rotating.

I also viewed multiple kayaks going through their hardware installation assembly line. Air tools and efficiency at it’s best. I stumbled across some new Wilderness Ride seat’s being built specifically for ACK and got a big hug from Linda in the parts department which I’m told can cure everything that ails you. I’m not gonna lie…I felt a little better. I bid farewell to Scott and headed on my way to Asheville to link up with my family. Still had some business to attend to but had a smile on my face after seeing where the products I sell are being made.

Chris @ACK

Next up…Chris visits Werner and spends a day at Legacy Paddlesports.