Skagit County kayak business seeing growth
Shiny green, red and blue kayak decks lined the walls of Eddyline Kayaks’ warehouse Wednesday, ready to be assembled into one of the company’s 15 models.
About 100 kayaks are produced each day at the company’s facility west of Burlington, co-owner and President Scott Holley said.
Holley, along with two other longtime employees and a few investors, took over the 50-year-old company in mid-2017. Since then, he said Eddyline has experienced strong growth.
Most of that growth came from two new products, a digital marketing revamp and an expansion into the Canadian market, he said.
The company’s preseason sales, which Holley said account for half its annual sales, are up 50 percent.
He attributes about 20 percent of that to the company’s expansion into Canada, despite a recently enforced 10 percent tariff on kayaks.
The Canadian tariff on kayaks and other products was a response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum enforced last year, Holley said.
“It sounds like (the Canadian tariff) will be in place until the steel and aluminum tariffs are lifted,” Holley said.
Despite the tariff, Holley said the company’s kayaks have been a hit in Canada.
“We knew there was a competitive opportunity in Canada and that it was a good fit for our product,” he said.
As the company has grown, Holley said Eddyline has started supplying more kayaks to sporting goods retailer REI.
Holley said the company now needs to figure out how to meet the growing demand.
“Selling 50 percent more boats means we need 50 percent more space than what we already have, at minimum, to satisfy existing demands,” he said.
Holley said he’s been looking for the past year for an industrial building about twice the size of the company’s current 17,400-square-foot space at the Port of Skagit.
There’s a shortage of industrial manufacturing space in Skagit County, said Scott Peterson, director of business development and real estate at the Port of Skagit.
The port’s industrial buildings are at full capacity, he said, and have been for some time.
Holley said the lack of available space is pushing Eddyline toward building its own space, even though it’s the more expensive option.
“We owe it to ourselves at this point to evaluate all opportunities,” he said. “But we want to stay as close as possible.”
Holley said the company aims to be in a new space before the summer of 2020.