Aqua Bound’s Quality Assurance Process

Here at Aqua Bound our top priority is to be sure every kayak, stand-up or canoe paddle we sell is of the highest quality. That includes three main factors: cosmetic appeal, light weight and durability.

working on a kayak paddle blade

Whether our end customer is one of our retail partners or an individual paddler, we’re committed to using the best materials and having the best processes in the industry. That way we’re confident our paddles will help bring years of enjoyment and memories for those who use them.

How We (Really) Put Our Customers First

Cory Novinska is Aqua Bound’s Production Manager. He explained, “We really want to understand what our customer wants [in a paddle]: How does it feel? How does it perform? What does it look like? We bring that to the design team and do our homework to get the product exactly how we want it, and we make it in a cost-effective and timely manner.

“So there’s these constant iterations where we take customer feedback—it could be the texture or the weight of the shaft—that feedback goes to the design team and then to layers of testing. When a paddle eventually goes to market, we start over again by listening to the customer and getting their feedback. It’s a constant loop.”

As a “build to order” company we don’t make a paddle until an order has been placed for it. This helps us:

  • Focus more on each paddle we make…
  • Lean heavily into continual product improvement and innovation, since we don’t have to focus on moving current inventory.

Why Our Employees are Key to This Process

As our paddles are processed we continually check and monitor their quality by pulling samples off the line. We do that so the customer gets the high-quality paddle they expect.

We have a lot of collective wisdom at Aqua Bound. Many of our employees have been working here for several years and we rely on their always-growing expertise in their area.

Cory said, “We encourage everyone, from vets to new employees, to ask questions if something doesn’t look or feel right. We’re very diligent about going in and verifying those questions. Our folks here are professionals. All of them, no matter which department they’re in, are critically important to the end customer getting the exact experience and product that they want.”

jason holding kayak bent shaft

How We Test Our Paddles for Quality

The blades for our recreational and economy kayak and stand-up paddles come to us from other manufacturers with specific strength requirements we’ve given them. They test one of every thirty parts to be sure the components meet those requirements.

We have an extensive shaft testing regiment that includes multiple different tests, and we always look to improve on that. For example, we constantly work to improve the weight vs. strength ratio.

Our quality assurance plan for our high-end paddles starts all the way back at the design of the product. We continually get customer feedback on what’s working and what’s not, what they like and what they don’t like.

We take that feedback and give it to our design team. The design team constantly thinks about what we heard from the customer and designs that feedback into our products.

“Then we do thorough testing. We test to be sure it’s going to perform well. We test to be sure it’s not going to get waterlogged. We test a product to make sure it’s going to hold up when pushing off a rock, has abrasion resistance and others,” said Cory.

“We’re doing all of that homework up-front along with the specific design requirements we heard from the customer. So when we launch a product we know we have something solid to stand behind.”

(Read about our design process for our Northern Lights Whiskey and Tango for a behind-the-scenes look.)

We constantly check random samples to be sure they meet our quality standards. Then we go back and listen to the customer again, getting ready for our next iteration of what they liked and didn’t like. Whether it’s color, durability, abrasion resistance, comfort on the hands—whatever it may be, we’re back to listening to the end user once the product is in the field, and the cycle starts again.

man holding uncut carbon kayak paddle blade

As Cory pointed out, “When people buy a paddle from us, what they’re really buying is a tool to make memories with.”

That paddle will give miles and miles of memories and joy with their family and friends. We want to give them the confidence that this tool will be with them on every mile they paddle for many years to come.

Do you have questions our friendly Customer Service team can help you with today? 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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