Wenonah Sells Current Designs (Bonus: Q&A with New Owner from Sanborn Canoes!)

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Longtime sea kayak manufacturer Current Designs has new owners. Wenonah Canoe of Winona, Minn., announced that it has completed the sale of its sister sea kayak company Current Designs in a two-part transaction to Sanborn Canoe Co. and Canada’s Kayak Distribution.

“Just prior to the close of 2023, Wenonah completed the divesting of the Current Designs Kayak enterprise,” says Wenonha President Bill Kueper. “Wenonah’s neighbor’s, Sanborn Canoe Co., purchased the composite divisions of the business, including both the domestic and Asian-manufactured product lines.  Canadian company Kayak Distribution acquired Current Designs’ rotomolding division.”

Wenonah, he adds, will continue to manufacture its award-winning composite and T-Formex canoes from its headquarters in Winona, Minn.

Founded in Winona, Minn., in 2009 by principal Todd Sanborn, Sanborn Canoe Company is a Minnesota-based maker of high-quality wooden canoes and paddles, specializing in cedar strip canoes and other designs.

“Sanborn Canoe is excited to announce the purchase of Current Designs Kayaks,” the company states in a release on the acquisition. “Current Designs has been pushing development in sea kayaks since the late 1970s, and we’re excited to continue the tradition of high-quality, handcrafted composite kayaks that will appeal both to the paddler looking for a refined recreational paddling experience as well as those who tend towards thrill seeking, looking to travel through and play in some of the roughest waters out there.”

PL Catches Up with New Owner Todd Randall of Sanborn Canoes

Randall: “As you can imagine, we’re incredibly excited for this opportunity. CD has been building top notch boats for decades. The tagline “A work of art; built for life” really sings to me and feels like a perfect match to what we’re already doing at Sanborn. We love to build quality products that both inspire and equip people to go on an adventure. The kayaks CD has been making for the past 40 years are beautiful watercraft suited for all the ways a paddler enjoys being on the water; From back country camping, to lazy turns around the pond, to riding gnarly surf.
“We’re humbled by the opportunity to build on such a rich tradition of quality craftsmanship and proud to be adding our own piece to this story. At least initially, Sanborn’s fingerprint on the brand will be primarily cosmetic. We’re adding a high degree of customizability to the look, allowing paddlers to design their own boats. With new colorways and design templates, a person could have as  early as much fun designing their boat as using it. We have also been inviting input from CD paddlers with the goal of finding ways to add to the experience of a paddling Current Designs kayak. I really can’t believe we get to make these great boats for the paddling community. We’re so excited for this next stage both for Sanborn and for Current Designs, and we look forward to offering even more ways to get people out on the water.”

On Moving to DTC

The company also admits that the purchase will involve new initiatives, including shuttering its retail base. “Bringing Current Designs into our shop is going to bring with it a few major changes,” it says. “The first is that we’re going to move to a direct-to-customer sales model. This allows for a significant reduction in cost to the customer. Secondly, this allows us to really lean into customizations. As we’ve shown with Merrimack Canoes, customization allows each boat to be as unique as its paddler. Some paddlers want clean, simple designs, while others want their boat to be unmistakably their own. Whether you’re buying a canoe or a kayak it’s a major investment, and it’s important to us that you find yourself inspired for a lifetime.”

Info: http://sanborncanoe.com

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