Magazine: Interview with Emily Jackson | Jackson Kayak Teams up with Werner Paddles

Kayak Session: Tell us a bit more about what happened. Is it a merger, a collaboration, an acquisition? If so, who bought who?
Emily Jackson: It’s an acquisition; Jackson Kayak bought and acquired Werner Paddles.

KS: What led to this: a strategy or an opportunity? 
EJ: It’s both. Jackson Kayak has been looking for opportunities to fill more space at our Factory here in Sparta, TN, and Werner has been struggling with the rising costs of manufacturing in the PNW.

KS: When did the talks start? Rumors were going around for a while about it… Who approached who? What is the idea behind this move.
EJ: Joe Pulliam (Dagger Kayaks founder) who has been on our advisory board for years, and even worked for Jackson Kayak at some stage, is very close with Bruce Furrer (Werner owner) – he connected the dots when noticing both JK and Werner’s needs and initiated the conversations about eight months ago. 

KS: Are Werner paddles going to keep its name? or is it going to become JK paddles down the road?
EJ: Werner is a legacy brand it would be a mistake (in our opinion) to take something with that much support and power behind it and rebrand it. We fully intend to keep Werner’s name, approach, and a few key players to continue as they’ve been.

KS: Which position would you say in going to be irreplaceable– in other word what are the key position a paddle manufacturer cannot work without? 
EJ: Lead on production, quality, and brand. We need to ensure that we have the experts who can ensure the paddles continue to be produced at the highest quality and that we have someone whose primary focus is on the success of Werner Paddles.

KS: Are those key people going to be hitting the road to Tennessee?
EJ: Some will be coming to TN, and some will work remotely, which is not uncommon at Jackson Kayak.

KS: How about the facilities in Washington states? Are Werner paddles going to be still produced up there? 
EJ: Werner production will be moved to our factory in TN. We have offered job opportunities to all Werner employees, should they choose to move.

KS: Beyond sales force, which should be merging forces; What would you say is going to be the main added value for such a merger. 
EJ: One of the biggest added values of shared space is the cost savings of being under one roof. Given our industry’s seasonality, it’s important to have as many cost savings as possible to ensure both are here for many years to come.

KS: Both brands took a step back internationally the past few years – is it going to help both brands to re-conquer market shares abroad?
EJ: Being a made-in-America brand has its challenges and associated costs. We will continue to work on a sustainable approach to the international market.

KS: On the paddlers front, what is going to change. If anything.
EJ: There are no plans to change products at either company at this time, but having avid users under our roof, innovation always plays a key part.

KS: Can we expect new products later this year? Already in the making?
EJ: Both companies are actively working on products; it’s a big part of who we are—Always innovating.

KS: Would you say this move is also going to help the other brand progress and develop, i.e., sea kayaking an important part of Werner sales, while JK is not really present in that segment.
EJ: With both companies staying in their own branding lanes, we can explore possibilities, but our focus is to ensure both companies are effectively working in their own segments.


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