It really should have been a quick and simple process.
In the late 90’s Tim Tucker set out to find a way to solve a problem. “The three kayaks I had sitting on the garage floor were taking up too much room,” he says. “All I wanted to do was open up a kayak magazine, find the best kayak storage system available and buy it.” Easier said than done.
“Much to my surprise and amazement there was not one system that I thought would be useable,” he says.
Not one to let an obstacle get in the way to solution, Tucker built his own rack. “It was really crude but it worked the way I wanted it to and the way all my systems still work now,” he says. Happy with the result, Tucker wondered if other paddlers would be interested in his approach. “I thought it would be fun just to make these things for kicks. Make a few people happy by solving their problems.”
Thus, in 1999 Talic was born. The name honors Tucker’s great great grandfather Nicholae Talic. A woodworker who lived in The Netherlands, Talic inspired his American ancestor. “As a kid growing up I had a real kindred spirit with him about being able to create something out of wood. In respect for him I named the company after him.”
Tucker, who owned a successful advertising company, had creative resources like copywriting, photography and graphic design available to create small space advertisements to introduce Talic and his “Be Good To Your Toys” tagline. “I thought it’d be fun to run a few ads and see what happens. Much to my surprise it took off really fast.”
A perfectionist at heart, Tucker created one prototype after another testing different shapes for the frame components, construction materials, joint methods and fastening systems. More than 70 prototypes later, Tucker felt satisfied. At least for now.
“It took years and a lot of hard work to get the kinks worked out. I worked 60-70 hours per week. It wasn’t until last year that I finally felt I could say I figured it all out. The biggest trick was finding a formula that would satisfy everybody’s needs in terms of boat sizes, materials and ease of use. I had to come up with a system that was easy to produce yet strong and appealing. I didn’t want to create something that was ugly.”
Today, Talic offers a variety of storage and display systems for canoes, kayaks and rowing shells. With names like the Kayak Condo, Kayak Tilt, Double Bunk, SlingSet and SeaHorse there’s an option for every paddler’s situation. Tucker has created specific systems for canoes, kayaks and rowing shells. Many of the systems are designed upfront to accommodate both types of boats. Rack options range from a weekend warrior’s single boat to a model that allows watersports retailers to show off seven canoes and kayaks.
Once inspired by his own frustrations, Tucker has added products based on dilemmas faced by other watersports enthusiasts. Enter the SeaHorse. “I went to kayak symposiums in Maine and South Carolina,” he says. “The stands the kayak manufacturers were using were either bulky or really flimsy. They had duct tape holding them together. From my advertising background that was a deadly sin. It was very inconsistent, a gorgeous boat sitting on an ugly stand. My original intent was to fill that need. I wanted something slick looking and yet could fold up into a small package in no time at all. As it turned out, lots of people thought the SeaHorse was useful.”
Sales of Talic products have flourished without a formal marketing program. Word of mouth and positive reviews floating around paddling websites and forums have led customers to Tucker’s home page. “Sales have been really very good for the amount of effort I’ve put into selling these. People were satisfied and told their friends. I get a fax from a kayak shop I’ve never heard of that wants to be a dealer. They just find it, hear about it and then they want to be a dealer or customer. That’s very rewarding.”
Tucker still has those three kayaks that started his journey. While he prefers short jaunts in the small bodies of water near his home, he admits attending to his Talic responsibilities have limited his time on the water. He’s still not quite satisfied that he’s created the best solutions. Tucker ponders,” It’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned what people like and what they don’t like. The types of boats they have and the enormous variety of environments for how they store them—everything from their bedrooms to underneath the deck at camp. I’ve created what I felt was a reasonable answer to their needs. I’m always thinking of how to remedy their problems. That’s just the way I am, always trying to fix things that other people think aren’t broken.”
By Lou Dzierzak