Sure, AIRE makes awesome inflatable craft for everything from whitewater and touring to fishing. But did you know that it also has a sister company, AIRE Environmental, devoted to protecting the medium we all paddle on?
“We’re all connected by one thing … water,” says AIRE’s Alexandra Aldecoa. “Water is essential for our lives and recreation, and it’s the reason we’re a business today.”
In 1989, whitewater enthusiasts Alan Hamilton, Greg Ramp, Kris Walker and Dennis Hill introduced AIRE’s first four production boats, the Lynx, Wildcat, Cougar and Panther, naming their company Argonaut Inflatables Research and Engineering (AIRE). In 1995, using the same welded and sewn seam construction instead of glue, they broke into the fishing market with the same technology for launching Outcast. In 2001, that led to the founding of AIRE Industrial, later rebranded AIRE Environmental, to protect the water by manufacturing products that keep pollutants out of waterways and aids in disaster relief.
Made in their factory in Meridian, Idaho, AIRE Environmental designs and manufactures products for spill containment, water storage, flood protection, and erosion control. “Our most popular products include large and small spill containment berms, flexible bladders for storing potable and waste water, and heavy-duty water-filled flood Diversion Tubes,” says the division’s Brendan Nefzger. “Since the majority of our products are made of coated fabrics, we’re able to utilize the same technology and processes we use to manufacture rafts — including precision CNC cutting, radio frequency and hot air welding, and industrial sewing.”
AIRE Environmental now accounts for 15-20% of AIRE’s company-wide sales and is proving a great fit within the broader company. “As passionate outdoor enthusiasts, we not only want to create products that promote outdoor recreation but also products that protect our environment from harmful pollutants,” says Nefzger. “We’re able to use many of the same manufacturing techniques for creating inflatable boats to build products that support our industrial industries while protecting the environment. Our berms protect groundwater and other natural resources from industrial spills; our flexible bladders are used to store water for fighting wildfires; our potable water bladders supply drinking water for those displaced by natural disasters while reducing the plastic water bottle count ending up in landfills; and our flood Diversion Tubes are a reusable and effective replacement for sandbags to keep flood water away from homes or sensitive locations.”
So next time you’re paddling an AIRE boat down a pristine waterway, give a nod to the company’s other division using the same technology to help protect the water we all paddle on, as well as help fight wildfires and help people in need get drinking water.
“We found that by welding fabrics together we can create products that protect the environment as well as people’s homes and businesses,” adds Aldecoa. “We’ve been producing innovative products for over 30 years, and we look forward to continuing the tradition for at least another 30 more.”