It is with sadness, that Soul Waterman has decided to move its production out of the USA. This decision is being made for several extremely practical reasons: we’re in the boat building business and need to be able to produce our kayaks on time, to standard, at a reasonable price.
The recent trade war started by the president of the United states is resulting in retaliatory tariffs by several nations around the world. These are countries where Soul sells kayaks, and the tariff hikes are going to make our products uncompetitive in those markets; sales which combined make up more than half our total business. Given the international nature of our sales, we cannot afford 20%-30% price hikes on our products in these countries.
This is but a part of the problem however. Over the last year, Soul has used three different USA rotational moulders, and we are simply unable to find a partner who can make our product consistently on time, and to specification. We constantly are told that our standards are too high, too demanding, and that their time is better placed making “easier to mould products”. In addition, with the US manufacturers, we have time delays of several months between moulds arriving and production starting. We simply cannot accept these sorts of time delays, and the constant fight to have our products made to our specifications.
As a result, we are moving all of our production back to China, where we have been using a state of the art facility for the last 5 years. They produce on time, and to our specifications every time without complaining or making excuses. This means we can deliver a better, higher quality product, in a more timely fashion. While the days of “cheaper” manufacturing in China are a thing of the past (it costs about the same to produce in China as in the USA), without the excessive tariffs levied against chinese made products like we’re seeing on American made ones, we will be able to provide our kayaks worldwide at an approximate equal and competitive price.
This is unfortunately a costly exercise for us, as all of our inventory and moulds have to be shipped back to China (and will have massive tariffs imposed on them because they are coming out of the USA), but given that things are unlikely to change for several years, we have decided that it’s the best solution for our company, and our customers, who in the end expect a quality product, delivered in a timely manner.
The F Bomb, Chaos Monkey, Funky Monkey, Gonzo, Booty Call, Angel and District 11 moulds are already either in China, or on their way to the factory. We are making a small number of stock 303 and Terrible Two in the USA, and then shipping those moulds, along with all of our internal components, to China in the next weeks. This means there could be some small delays once we run out of inventory on 303 and Terrible Two orders, so please bear with us as we relocate.
In the meantime… let’s all go paddling and enjoy the summer!
Words: Corran Addison