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I am not sure what they were thinking when LL stopped having boats in local shops. I bet that was part of the reason they had declining sales.

They make good boats but have failed to create effective structures to offer them to the consumer.

To be competitive they need to find a way to be like the apple store of kayaking. Not amazon.
 

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LL

Liquid Logic has been having troubles for a long time now. They never really gained a solid market share in whitewater. For most of their history they have succeeded due to having Native sell well in fishing boats. Then they continued to suffer along and lost most of their shipping contracts. They didn't have to pull LL from store shelves, because most dealers stopped ordering the brand due to increased shipping prices before LL made the call. They are trying to save the side of the brand they really love by keeping it in house. That too looks like it has failed. LL built some great hype earlier this year with new designs and bringing Pat Keller in-house to help built back it's Grassroots marketing side. Pat has done a really good job at doing this (I hope he still has a job). But, like buying shoes over the internet finding the right boat for you without sitting in it is tough. That's why we are seeing the first Flying Squirrels and Braaaps for sale so quickly. Hopefully Steve Jordan can save the brand for a second time.
 

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Clearly you don't make a move like switching to direct sales because the cash inflow is gushing out of control. The reality is selling whitewater boats is a tough business. I'll bet if you look at those Jackson balance sheets on their whitewater boats they're not exactly getting rich either. LL seems like a cool company that has frequently been on cutting edge of creekboat and river running designs and employed and sponsored a lot of cool people in the paddling world. Let's hope they can keep it going.
 

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LL

Me too. I really love LL. I know so much history it hurts. I love LL. Woody is my personal hero, Shane is one of the best things to ever happen to WW. I understand the bumps in the road and I love these dudes for making awesome kayaks. When I was a buyer LL was at the top of my list.

The Session and the Session+ changed the game. Honestestly it was my first 20+ end cartwheel and I loved it no matter how bad my feet hurt and got distorted. A couple of changes and it could be the perfect down river playboat today (hint hint- i.e. Mullet).

LL has been resistant to a couple of industry discoveries and their in-ability to adjust has kept there boats difficult to roll and hard to reach the biggest whitewater markets.

I love Liquid Logic hulls, Liquid Logic's outfitting is awesome, and if they would learn to build a cockpit angle I would love that too. Shane needs to try a few other brands and be willing to feel what they are doing. I know he can build an aweome boat, but sometimes we get stuck in our ways.

I am not talking about following trends. I'm talking about advanced ergonomics and boat angles in the cockpit area. A couple of changes and LL will have the perfect boats. Build perfectly.
 

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Here's how I imagine a LL meeting from about 10 years ago. "Hey guy's playboats are driving the market, I've got a great idea let's stop making playboats!" Fast forward a decade and here's how I imagine a recent LL meeting "Hey Pat you still got the keys to the backdoor at Dagger?" "Well as a matter of fact I do" "Great, how about tomorrow night you go steal the RPM mold and while your there see if they have a typewriter mold. LL will rise from the ashes like a Phoenix build upon a solid foundation of RPM's and typewriters!" Now before the couple LL fanboys on here get their underwear up in a bunch I'm so old school that my playboat is still a vision.
 

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1) LL did not selling direct because they wanted to. It was a last ditch effort to save a company that was losing money. Can't make money selling boats for $600 per boat to shops? Try selling them for $900 direct. Problems are that almost no one will buy a boat they cannot sit in first, and their shipping plan was horrendous. I probably would have if their thigh braces were good, but I'm not paying full price for a boat that probably will not fit well.

2) JK did not kill LL. The whitewater kayak business is killing LL. Most of the boat advice threads here are people wanting to find a boat for $300. The culture of kayaking is so cheap that it is almost impossible to make money.

3) I am personally bummed that things are going this way for LL. They always seemed like a "by kayakers for kayakers company." For whatever reason, you can make better money selling slightly updated playboats every year than good creekboats and river runners, but that is just the state of the market.


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I do think to some extent Jackson is taking a bigger share of the pie, but I also think the number of whitewater kayakers is shrinking. Let's be honest, none of these companies are banking on their line of whitewater products.

Phil's point comes to mind regarding LL.


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It's hardly surprising but still sad news... Whitewater kayaking is simply not that profitable. Other outdoor sports have exploded in popularity, ie back country skiing and climbing. Kayaking will likely never experience such growth; it is just too niche. How many people walk away after their first attempt at learning to roll or their first nasty swim? Whitewater sports however, can and I believe are experiencing decent growth. SUP has really taken off and is readily accessible to novices. Same with rafting (those damn permits are harder and harder to get). Jackson seems to have recognized it with their SUP and rec kayak lines. That's the way forward for the whitewater industry, for better or worse. Our whitewater kayaks will be funded on dollars of the weekend SUP and Pumphouse crowds. Hopefully, our other favorite boat brands can diversify before it's too late.
 

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I admit I've done no studies on this (nor read them)...

I find it hard to believe WW kayaking is a dying sport. It is arguably receiving more visibility and notoriety than ever before. Cities all over are building WW parks (seriously, how many WW parks have opened in the past 5 years). The rivers seem more and more crowded, and I can attest that, at least here in Boise, our community is growing a ton.

That said, I do agree that kayaking culture is, for the most part, fairly cheap. And it's a relatively expensive hobby to get into: boat ($1,200), skirt ($150-$200, to be replaced every other year), paddle ($300-$400), helmet ($200), PFD ($200), drysuit ($1,000), drytop ($300), and on and on...

Aside from that, unless you're warrantying a boat, I don't think people replace boats (especially with brand new boats) that often. New models stir up some intrigue, but really all you ever do is switch one set of advantages/disadvantages for another.

I always thought the boat manufacturers should come up with some sort of "lease" program (for lack of a better term), where you buy a new boat, and at the end of the season you can "sell" it back to the manufacturer, get a new boat for $200 or $300, and then they can sell the old boat used. Or something like that. No unlike what some people already do with Craigslist, I guess. They need some ideas to stir up more interest.

Jackson, I think, brilliantly "redesigns" their boats every 2-3 years and claim to improve upon the old designs, and so owners with the old boats feel they are paddling inferior models. LL, on the other hand, never made much improvement on the Remix (not that you really can improve the Remix, but hey).

The other thing... marketing and scarcity. Look at how quickly Waka kayaks sell out over here. Evan Garcia brings in a fleet and they are all sold within days, and no one ever demos those before dropping a grand on them.
 

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I think a lot of this has to do with the advent of the SUP. SUP cuts into the kayak market significantly as these are the same people that are would be kayakers or kayaking converts to SUP.

Kayaking is not for everyone and the learning curve is significant. Although the costs of SUP are similar, it's more approachable to the mainstream, is entertaining even on easier water and because it is in its relative infancy, the gap between beginner and advanced is not as far apart as in kayaking.

There is a reason Jackson is building SUP's, the Payatte River Games didn't have freestyle kayaking and and Dane went to Cascade instead of Salida.
 

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The first company to produce boats with plastic that does not crack with normal use will earn my business. Id be happy to pay full retail for a boat that lasts as long as boats did 15 years ago. It appears that prijon is the only company making reliable boats anymore and they're not available in the US.
 

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I think a lot of this has to do with the advent of the SUP. SUP cuts into the kayak market significantly as these are the same people that are would be kayakers or kayaking converts to SUP.

Kayaking is not for everyone and the learning curve is significant. Although the costs of SUP are similar, it's more approachable to the mainstream, is entertaining even on easier water and because it is in its relative infancy, the gap between beginner and advanced is not as far apart as in kayaking.

There is a reason Jackson is building SUP's, the Payatte River Games didn't have freestyle kayaking and and Dane went to Cascade instead of Salida.
I don't disagree with you, though I would point out that the PRG attendance this year paled in comparison to last year (at the same time, the lay attendance is probably not germane to the topic of the explosion of SUP vs. kayaking).
 

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Kevin,

Here's the link to Rok's website where he's distributing Prijon.

If anyone's got energy to breathe into the market, it's Rok. He's not only an amazing paddler but the guy's metabolism rivals the energizer bunny.

Here he is paddling the first boat over from Germany: :)



-AH
 
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