YakAttack Debuts Top-Loading GearTrac, Other Accessories
By Paul Lebowitz
Luther Cifers of YakAttack is flying high. In July, his company name graced the ICAST Best of Show winning Eddyline C135. Now, at his booth at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, he's debuting a slew of new gear including a track system, anchor trolley, paddle clip, and one hotly in demand bottle opener – a tribute to the company’s groundbreaking GearTrac.
"We are now injection molding in house. We can do things really fast and economically. We're even making our own molds. These were CAD models a week ago," he says, gesturing towards recent 2016 prototypes.
"We know we have to do things differently to be competitive and keep it all in the USA, so we spent most of this year developing the skills and technology to make tooling much faster than conventional methods, and for a fraction of the cost. It’s a lot of work, but we have a purpose. You don’t work this hard for just money," he says.
Perhaps his biggest 2016 introduction will be the top-loading GTTL GearTrac, a streamlined redesign of the burly original GT175. Several other items are clever redesigns of common kayak fishing items, with vast improvements in function. For instance, the custom hardware for his anchor trolley will prevent line binding and minimize unnecessary noise.
Cifers worked in a factory when he was young. A self-described “home school dropout,” he developed an interest in manufacturing that lead him to learn everything he could about engineering, manufacturing, and business. The experience changed the course of his life. He believes creating more manufacturing jobs right here in America will generate opportunities that will similarly inspire others.
"Most companies are looking for someone with particular credentials," he says. Not YakAttack. They are willing to train hard-working employees on the job, to nudge them out of their comfort zones to learn manufacturing methods and skills, everything from how to operate advanced machinery to how to use state of the art software to design tomorrow’s solutions. It's training many employees couldn't get elsewhere. “It’s really up to the employee how far they go. Our goal is to help them achieve their goals, and we see value in intangible things like integrity, intellect, and work ethic. The path of career growth we offer is not an easy one, but previous training, education, and experience need not be a barrier.”
Cifers has made a habit of working collaboratively with fishing kayak manufacturers and other industry leaders, generating a series of must-have rigging innovations. It's paid off with tremendous company growth. Within months he expects to triple his manufacturing space to 19,000 square feet. He's at 24 employees and counting, and can easily imagine growing his crew to 50.
"Growth is the answer. Lots of growth," he says earnestly. Not just for YakAttack, for the country.