Industry News: Riot Kayaks Acquires Corran SUP

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Riot Kayaks Acquires Corran SUP

Cliché as it may sound, Corran Addison has gone full circle. Addison started Riot Kayaks in the late 1990s and helped establish it as one of the leading kayak brands in the whitewater world. Ten years after leaving Riot, and several new brands later (including Imagine and Corran SUP), Addison is back with Riot and parent company Kayak Distribution out of Montreal, Quebec.

We caught up with Addison for a quick industry Q&A on the new acquisition.

SUP mag: So first obvious question, what does this do for Corran and Riot?

CA: Well first off, Riot and KD needed a SUP line for their dealers. We have a really good line of SUPs, diverse, simple to sell, but as a company we didn’t have the financial means to paly with the big boys. This partnership gives us the financial backing that we need to really be aggressive with dealers and distribution. KD has its own manufacturing so we don’t have a third party doing that so it will definitely bring our prices down. And I can concentrate on design and marketing, which I love, versus the back end.

SUP mag: How will the transition work?

CA: For 2015, I’ll be concentrating on getting Corran SUP online and up to speed with the company. Then in 2016, I’ll be able to concentrate more on the kayak line. Riot and KD have developed some really interesting new manufacturing techniques that they haven’t brought to market and haven’t had a designer that would make that manufacturing come to life.

SUP mag: So will you stay in San Clemente, California?

CA: Yes, we’ll stay based in San Clemente but I’ll be traveling more to Quebec. No plans to move back to Quebec, though, and no real point. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything in Quebec that I couldn’t do here. Being a SUP brand, we’re here in the heart of where the industry is happening. If you’re not in Maui, you need to be in San Clemente.

SUP mag: So you’ve created—and then sold or left—several higher-profile brands in both kayaking and standup paddling. This brand bears your name though. How’s this situation different?

CA: One of the relationships I had that was extremely successful was Draggo Rossi Kayaks. The company did much better in Europe than the US, but I wasn’t involved with the back end—in the manufacturing and distribution. Things that you don’t enjoy you’re not going to be good at. You can learn how to do it, but frankly, I’m not that great at (the business side). With Draggo, that was a very efficient relationship. I did what I loved. With Imagine, I was directly involved with manufacturing, shipping, product warranty, etc., I burnt out on that stuff. But we have an amazing business opportunity here. I won’t be involved with the business side but I will have a vested interest so I won’t just be an employee. We have the right product and the right people involved.

Below is the official press release from Corran SUP and Kayak Distribution

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(San Clemente, Calif.) — In a move that seems somehow reminiscent of Steve Jobs returning to Apple, so Corran Addison returns to Riot kayaks. Riot, the company he co-founded in 1997, is now owned by Kayak Distribution, which also has brands like Boreal Design, Seaward, and Trapper in its varied offerings. During Corran’s time at Riot, he was one of the industry leaders, spearheading both the design revolution, and how kayaks were marketed and paddled.

“It’s been 10 years since Corran left Riot,” said Marc Pelland, Kayak Distributions president, “and everywhere I go people come up to me to reminisce about those golden years. The footprint Corran left on people minds during those key years is amazing.”

Corran left Riot in 2004 and to start his paddleboarding business Imagine Eco, which he in turn sold in 2012 to the Hong Kong based Pryde group. By the end of 2012 he’d started his latest venture Corran paddleboards, which has grown in just a few short years into an industry leader, offering one of the most diverse and innovative lineups in the industry; take-apart boards, two-in-one boards, flip up skegs and more.

“We were at a point with Corran SUP where we needed to make a significant business decision,” Corran mused. “ Stay small and fiddle around with cool paddleboard projects, or take this to the next level. To do that we needed to partner up with someone who had the means to take our potential to its fulfillment.”

That someone was Kayak Distribution. The deal was brokered by Kayak Distributions director of sales, Mark Hall, who worked with Corran at Riot in early 2000. Kayak Distribution was in need of a SUP offering for its diverse global customer network, and Corran SUP needed the kind of manufacturing and back end infrastructure that Kayak Distribution had.

“I am excited as Corran brings years of experience and measurable achievements both on the water and in designing products,” Marc Pelland continued, “which will help us create more exiting products and brands”.

With Kayak Distribution in-house manufacturing, the Corran SUP brand is entering the 2015 with a revised lineup of boards which is simple, diverse, innovative and the most aggressively priced on the market.

“If we’re not the most important SUP brand in the industry by the end of 2015, we’ll be the biggest threat to the most important brands.” Mark Hall stated categorically. “We’ve created a line of boards and a dealer program which makes it impossible for any dealer who wants to really make some money to ignore us.”

“Mark Hall is going to be focused on dealer support, while the head office handles manufacturing and the back end,” Corran pointed out. “This frees me up to do what I’m really good at: design and marketing. Our boards for 2015 are really amazing. I can’t wait to get these into peoples hands.”

While Corran will be focused on bringing the SUP line to the forefront in 2015, he has said that he will be directly involved with the rejuvenation of the Riot whitewater kayak line once the immediate task is completed. That’s good news for a whole generation of whitewater paddlers who grew up paddling when Riot was an icon.

For more information about Kayak Distribution, contact Mark Hall mark@kayakdistribution.com and Corran Addison corran@corransup.com.