Less than two months after his retirement as president of Jackson Kayak, Eric “EJ” Jackson announced he is launching a new kayak company called Apex Watercraft, for starters a maker of carbon composite fishing kayaks.
“We’re not revealing everything yet,” he says, “but they’ll be carbon boats.
“It’s something people aren’t doing now and will shake things up,” he adds. “It will solve a lot of problems consumers have with kayaks that no one seems to be addressing. Obviously, weight is one of them and so is performance.”
The first market he’ll tackle in fish kayaks.
“From now on, the appearance and feel of a high-performance fishing kayak will change,” he wrote on his Facebook page for the company. “Through a minimalist approach, fishermen will make more casts and catch more fish. The experience will be amplified by the texture and feel of the boat, the craftsmanship and the ethos behind the company.”
Made near Jackson Kayak’s existing manufacturing facility in Tennessee, the kayaks are expected to begin shipping this spring. EJ’s wife Kristine Jackson, he says, will be helping with administration and bookkeeping.
EJ adds that Apex is not competing with Jackson, and that his daughter and son, Emily and Dane, will continue their respective roles at Jackson.
“Jackson doesn’t make carbon boats,” he says, which was partly behind his leaving the company. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. And I’m still an ambassador for Jackson and paddle Jackson kayaks.”
EJ says he’s “obviously leaving a void at Jackson,” but that he “could also get in people’s way sometime.” So the move and new venture is a good one. And he’ll be the sole owner, which will afford him a lot of flexibility in design, marketing and other business practices.
“It’s definitely interesting times,” he says, adding he hopes to employ both a dealer and direct-to-consumer sales approach. “Like any new business you have to crush it when you start out so we’ll be working pretty hard getting our ducks in a row.”