Code of Ethics & Sustainability Policy

Our core focus and purpose: Your pastime.  Our passion.

We build canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard paddles for paddlers who place value in quality construction along with having the lightest paddle available. Here at Aqua-bound we value offering a product that we would be proud to use ourselves as we’re an inclusive group of paddlers who love spending time on the water. As a group of people who greatly enjoy the outdoors, we take pride in developing and carrying out our sustainability initiatives. Improvements in sustainability are not only vital for the environment, they often help keep our prices competitive while aligning with our customers’ priorities all over the globe.

Environment

We work to steadily reduce unwanted scrap and minimize our overall environmental footprint.  We recycle and reuse many materials in our factory and are actively reducing our energy costs. 

Currently, we:

  • Environmentally Conscious Conduct company-wide training where we talk about the “why’s” and “how’s” of recycling at the factory and at home.
  • Ensure our facility provides accessible recycling containers for corrugated cardboard waste paper, aluminum cans and plastic containers.
    • All aluminum paddle shaft process scrap and aluminum beverage cans go to a local scrap processor
    • Corrugated cardboard and plastic food containers go to a water sanitation plant
    • Wood sawdust is donated and used for dairy calves’ bedding at a local farm
    • Wood scraps are donated to employees and community members to be used as fireplace/wood stove kindling
  • Utilize local injection molders to create our plastic blades, ferrule components and bilge pump parts.  Our molds employ hot runners which reduce the amount of scrap material per shot to the point that it can be reground and added to our virgin materials; all of our designs allow substantially more regrind.
  • Source raw materials locally whenever possible to reduce transportation costs. 
  • Send our plastic blade boxes back to the molder again and again until they are unusable; then they are recycled
  • Buy our hardwoods from a fully Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier
  • Use low VOC paddle finishing (basic mineral spirits and dip finishing; no overspray)
  • Are considered to be “an ultra-low emitter” by the Wisconsin DNR
  • Have asked all suppliers to go paperless with invoicing and bill paying.  69% are compliant to date…
  • Reuse all sheet form and bubble pack void fill that arrives with our incoming freight when we ship paddles to our retailers.  Additional purchased void fill is 100% reusable/recyclable plain craft paper.
  • Completed green initiatives/processes:
    • High efficiency lighting, in part subsidized by Wisconsin’s Department of Focus on Energy
    • Environmental impact study/LEEDS certification
    • Dust collector frequency drive to reduce electrical usage

Made in America

To the benefit of our national, state and local economy, we are a privately held manufacturer that assembles 100% of our products here in Osceola, Wisconsin.  Whenever practical, we manufacture components in our own factory and source materials locally. For availability or cost reasons, some materials are obtained overseas; for those products we claim Assembled in America.

Durability imageDurability

We design and build products that are light and strong.  Customers that exercise reasonable care are likely to obtain excellent service from our paddles for 20 years or more.  When the unthinkable does occur, more often than not our paddles can be repaired, rather than discarded. Planned product obsolescence is not practiced here, rather we encourage future purchases based on continuous product improvement and new designs.

  • To our knowledge, we are the only company that applies serial numbers to all paddles.  These labels allow us to trace which materials are in a specific paddle and what the date of manufacture was.  Our customer service team formally logs every customer call or email concerning product quality or durability.  As a result, the rare manufacturing defect or design flaw is quickly identified and solved. 
  • Recurring issues are prioritized and assigned to engineering for resolution.  As a result, we have a very low breakage rate of 0.3% and have evidence that our improvements to quality and durability have been resolved.  

Safety

The safety of our employees is paramount. 

  • All employees undergo annual formal safety training.
  • We maintain a list of safety data sheets (SDS) for every material used in our facility.
  • As a hardgoods manufacturer, we do not ship any uncured urethanes, do not make any products that come into contact with food and do not make apparel which contacts the skin. 
  • WISCON, our state equivalent of the federal department of occupational health and safety (OSHA) inspects our factory and conducts hazardous material audits.
  • Our safety committee includes our president and meets quarterly with a company-wide walk through.
  • Air quality testing is conducted on an annual basis.

Core values

Staying true to our heart over the last thirty years has given us a great reputation with our customers and status as a great place to work.

Elevate the experience

elevating the experience image

  • Live the life
  • Understand the allure
  • Make paddles that make a difference

Personify Midwest Nice

Personify Midwestern Nice image

  • Make personal service our personal mission
  • Respect your teammates
  • Always take the high road in problem-solving

Master our machine

Mastering our machine image

  • Understand what makes the Branches way special
  • Know how to be invaluable in your role
  • Develop and maintain seamless business processes
  • Respond with agility and accuracy

Lean forward

Leaning forward image

  • Avoid complacency and seek better solutions
  • Embrace new ideas
  • Think like an artist, work like a scientist

 

Organizations we support

  • American Rivers
  • American Canoe Association
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Coosa Riverkeeper
  • Georgia River Network
  • Heroes on the Water
  • Mississippi River Clean-Up
  • Northern Forest Canoe Trail
  • Project Healing Waters
  • Saint Croix River Association
  • Save the Boundary Waters
  • St. Croix Wild and Scenic River

 

We have completed a great many safety, sustainability and efficiency improvement projects for an organization of our size. We’re consciously working to improve our sustainability efforts whenever feasible to be more energy efficient and a better steward of our environment.

Sincerely,

Ed Vater

President