During the past week, three different people made contact with me to ask about buying kayaks. They had no idea that I left Fluid Kayaks almost three years ago. I was surprised as the grapevine has informed most of the paddling community, in the absence of a public statement about it from me.
15 years ago, I started Fluid Kayaks. As a passionate kayaker with an engineering degree, creating the company was a dream come true. For a good part of this time I was at the helm. Not only did I run the company, I also designed all of the kayaks in Fluid’s range (20-odd of them, with some of them winning awards for innovative design) as well as all the machines that Fluid uses to manufacture these boats. I was in charge of production and marketing for most of the period too.
The years passed and an unfortunate chain of events led to a situation where I felt that I needed to move on. This was partly as a result of decisions that I made – some good and others bad. It was also just time. For my personal growth and life, it was time for me to move on.
Deciding to leave Fluid was one of the hardest decisions of my life; a decision that was slow in coming and that took years to make. My personal life and everything that Fluid was had been interwoven for almost 13 years. In paddling circles I was known as ‘Mr Fluid’ and the company and brand had become an extension of my own personality. Or maybe it was the other way around…
In hindsight, leaving Fluid was the best thing I could have done for myself and for my family. At Fluid, I was very hands-on involved with every aspect of the business and it was totally consuming. I’ve spent a lot more time with my children since I left; in my Fluid days there was just never enough time.
After I left Fluid, I started a design-and-manufacturing company called Tramp Design. My first client was the American-based surfski company Epic Kayaks. I manufactured their new V5 and V7 plastic surfskis. Just shy of two years later, the project ended in September 2016. Since then, I’ve been developing several new products for different clients. I will put some posts here as the new products get launched.
In a way, I’m back to square one. Starting from scratch. But, of course, that is not entirely true. If you would judge me by my bank account, I have failed. What is in my head though is a different story; it is full of experience and it is bursting with new ideas. This clean slate will be filled with innovative products again, no doubt.