I started the drive from Louisiana to Tennessee on my ninth day away from home. I'd been down at the Boondoggle, going hard in the bayou. Now it was time for the Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit at Rock Island State Park. The Dealer Summit is a very fun event in a beautiful location with a fantastic group of people. This was my second year attending and I look forward to next year.
My past trip to Tennessee was documented here. Drew Gregory, Jackson Kayak Pro, set up a pre-summit kayak fishing tournament on Sunday for dealers, pro staff, etc. We all met up at the Jackson factory on Sunday morning to go over the rules before hitting the water. I was on Drew's team which afforded me an opportunity to hang with him and his fiancé, Christina. It was a slow day on the water, but I had a great time getting to hang out with good people.
The next day kicked off with Marketing clinics and vendor visits with some of the manufacturers Jackson Kayak partners with on their kayaks. Ram Mounts, partnering with Raymarine on some cool stuff. Nocqua Adventure Gear and YakAttack in the house. Raymarine, Bending Branches, Orion Coolers, Goal Zero and Sea-Lect Designs were also on hand. It was great to have access to all these great partners and hear about the exciting products they offer.
James McBeath, Marketing Man for JK, gave a good seminar on the JK Marketing style.
We also got a chance to paddle all of the JK kayaks at Rock Island State Park. The LT Kilroy Realtree was pretty slick in the water. It was light, stable and had some glide. The kayak I'd been most psyched to paddle, the Kraken 13.5, did not disappoint. This thing can fly. It weighs about 70lbs. and is the smaller version of the popular 15.5ft. Kraken.
I even stood up for a bit in the Kraken 13.5. While not as stable as a Coosa HD, it's 30" wide compared to 34" on the Coosa, it was definitely stable enough to stand in for someone versed in kayak balance.
Folks were also standing in the new kid's kayak the JK Skipper. :) This is going to be a fun little fishing kayak for kids and smaller stature adults as well.
I also got a chance to see the new Jackson Kayak Kilroy DT. This new tandem offering form JK can also be converted to an extra spacious solo kayak.
Sylvan Sport Go Trailers and Winnebago were also on site, wowing folks with the great traveling/camping options that are out there. Eye-balling these really got me amp-ed to hit the road with my family for some adventure.
The Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit is a great event. I'm a fan of the community come together, the tribe gathering around the fire, if you will. It's important to go over successes and plan ahead for future success. That is what the JK Summit does. And it's a good tribe filled with psyched people, intent on spreading the love of outdoor recreation.
Every year I go I meet more of the JK team and I'm more impressed with how they do things. It is a family, fun atmosphere that promotes getting out in to the good stuff.
That night we had a big get together and dinner at the Foglight Foodhouse. It was a great time.
The next morning I felt like the past 12 days of fishing and festivities had finally caught up to me. I'm a father of two girls under 5, I'm not used to this level of freedom! I crashed hard. I missed the factory tour at the JK facilities, then packed up and headed for home. Next year I have to plan a little smarter. I think I'll bring the family on the road next year, which ought to keep me tapped in.
I was sad to miss more time with the tribe, but I was definitely missing my little crew at home after all that time on the road.
Reggie Diaz, from our Ashland store, was at the summit and toured the factory. He posted some pics of the new facility that JK will be moving into. I look forward to seeing this operation next year.
For more pics from the current factory you can see some in my post from last year.
It's not often that a bunch of "competing" retailers get to come together and have fun. It's one of the reasons I love the Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit. It's important to remember that we are all outdoor people, selling fun. The JK vibe of family and outdoor sports promotion gets at the very essence of what we do here at Appomattox River Company.
Next year I'm not missing the end of summit party. It left me feeling a little tinge of regret, as I enjoy hanging out with this tribe. But getting home felt pretty good too. :)