Hello Mountain Buzzards,
I will try to make sure this doesn't come across as Spam, but I would like to explain a couple of things about the raft manufacturing industry and since Star was mentioned once (which is a good thing in this thread) I'll add my 2 cents. Several American boats are simply assembled in America. Most materials, valves, and components (d-ring patches, handles, bladders, etc.) come from overseas. I just found out that Maravia had to send an entire order of material back because of blems. Our factory produces the majority of SUP's on the American market ( Naish, Boardworks, Badfish, NRS, among others), we have also provided Sotar with Drop-stitch bladders in the past. We also custom build for private labels such as Montana River Craft, KVI, and partial builds for Creature Craft. Star has also had Hypalon boats in the past that were built in the Hyside factory with their material, then they slap a Star logo on it. The founder of Vanguard was with Hyside for decades before starting up and it's obvious if you compare a Hyside IK to a Vanguard IK, only the material is different.
Glue vs. Heat-welding- If a welded seam is done right it's bomber. Once a heat-weld fails you can pull it apart by hand. Glued seams are stronger until failure which is a result of off-gassing which is accelerated by heat and U/V. Not a well known fact, but Stars inside seams are heat-welded and the outside seam is glued. It is our opinion that this gives the best air-retention from the inside and strength on the outside. Experience is what matters and yes Star had a problem in the early 1990's with glue failure but we are still here (20+ years). The last epic failure I've heard of was Big Water Boats and that was glued Hypalon. Only time will tell with a start-up manufacturer.
One last note about Hypalon vs. PVC. How many folks would spend 3 times as much for 1 pair of shoes that you had to wear for 30+ years (think about wearing Buster Browns still today). Things change over time and there will always be innovations, I know I would rather get a new boat every 12-15 years because I hope my needs would change within that time. Just something to think about.
What really matters is getting a boat you like, can afford, and has the service to back it up. It's funny how once everyone gets on the water it's all good. All Forward!