New Kayak Company formed

Stopped in our local dealer and he showed us a letter announcing that Heritage Kayak will be part of a new group of kayak veterans headed by Andy Zimmerman. He’s the guy who started Wilderness Systems? It sounds like they have big plans to launch new models as soon as possible. Could be good for kayakers.


But all their kayaks are self-rated as “excellent” for nearly everything!

Heritage Kayaks
Yes that’s the company that Andy Zimmerman will now head up. Not sure if he is the owner or partner but there was a whole group of other guys portrayed as paddling experts who are working in this new venture. Also said the kayaks would be built in North Carolina which is where my dealer said he used to get his Wilderness kayaks from. The letter said the deal should be done in the next few days. Look for new models and some high end kayaks to appear.

wilderness systems
is my favorite kayak company.

the only way I could see that a new kayak company could compete is by price and customer service. There are a lot of good designs already out there.

Interesting, but in some ways
very disturbing.

Heritage used to produce some very good composite and roto SOTs (Shearwater, Expedition, Nomad, SeaDart). Only the SeaDart (roto) remains in production.

The rest of their line up is, IMO, just mediocre “me too” rec. type designs that are inferior to many others on the market.

I wonder how the state of RI and the town of Bristol feel about the rumor that production is moving south. I heard that the state and town gave the company some tax and zoning breaks a year or so back so they could expand their production facility and warehouse.

Heritage now down the tubes?
Heritage used to be a decent company with some original designs lately they have been trying to compete with the mass marketed Tarpon boats and come up with junk. I think my old Seadart may quickly become a collectors boat.

Probably have some of the local roto molding talent living in the area of the old Wildy plant, if that’s where they’re gong to move production.

“Heritage” SOT Designs?
None of the Cronin designs are really “Heritage” They are HopOnTop composite designs converted to rotomolded.

Brush With Fame???
I think that may be the same Andy that helped some of us learn to roll in Greensboro a couple years back.

New old company
Wilderness Systems outgrew their ability to manage themselves IMO.

Not sure about this new venture whether it’s more of the same or what.

I’ve owned 4 of their boats all bought new. If there’s a design of theirs I want now, I’ll search the used market.

new models?
I wonder if these new models they are talking about include any of the molds from Walden Kayaks? I know some ended up at Michicraft and I thought Heritage might have gotten some too.

True! but…
Heritage aquired Hop-on-top and the Cronin designs & patents. They even aquired Cronin’s serivces for awhile as design adviser/consultant.

The Cronin designs (Shearwater, Nomad, Expedition, SeaDart) are, as far as I know, Heritage property.

Here’s a copy of the official PR
I asked Heritage what was up and Rochelle Fisher sent me a copy of a press release - details as follows:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Teresa Pendergrass FEBRUARY 17, 2006 336.299.5055

Legacy Launches; Sets Course for a New Golden Age in Paddle Sports

The co-founder of one of the leading kayak brands in the country today announced his return to the industry with the launch of Legacy Paddlesports LLC.

Andy Zimmerman, the new company’s president and CEO, announced a deal to acquire a majority position in Heritage Kayaks, the Bristol, Rhode Island-based manufacturer of recreational, touring and sit-on-top kayaks. Hol Whitney, who founded Heritage Kayaks in 1997, retains a substantial percentage and will serve as company Chairman.

“Heritage is a terrific brand, with a great platform and, more important, an impeccable reputation,” Zimmerman said. “That’s totally a result of the way Hol has run his business. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to work with him.” The newly re-minted CEO said that immediate plans for the Heritage brand include refreshing existing models and creating new ones. “We’re going to take a strong brand and make it formidable.”

But that’s just the beginning. “One of many exciting moves for Legacy,” Zimmerman said. “Just keep your eyes open. Between now and Outdoor Retailer, you’ll see some major developments.”

His motivation to return to the industry and launch Legacy Paddlesports LLC grew out of a desire to see a company recapture the spirit, passion and soul of the industry’s Golden Age. In the 1990s, when the sport took off, spunky, innovative companies dazzled with smart designs and exceptional service to the retailers and to consumers. “With Legacy,” Zimmerman said, “I don’t really care about being the biggest. We’re going to put all of our energy in being the best.”

Legacy Paddlesports LLC is examining the potential of relocating Heritage to North Carolina. The ready availability of business properties that will accommodate Legacy’s planned growth, a lower cost of doing business, the availability of trained paddlesports staff and the possibility of business incentives are factors that are being considered. If a move is made all of Heritage’s full-time employees will be offered employment with Legacy and assisted with relocation expenses should they choose to make the move.”

Take it for what it’s worth. New Englanders note the contact phone number is NOT in Bristol RI!