With Innova Kayak founder Tim Rosenhan's passing in late 2015, the company recently announced that the reins will be handed over to longtime European Innova manufacturer Gumotex. We caught up with Innova co-founder Paul Neutz for his take on the brand and its transition...
Are you excited to have a plan in place for Innova?
Absolutely. Tim’s passing was a big shock to all of us – totally unexpected. The remaining shareholders in Innova Group wanted to make sure that we honor Tim’s legacy and build on the great work he accomplished by keeping Innova alive and growing.
What are Gumotex’s plans for the brand?
Innova has got a tremendous reputation for quality and customer service. Gumotex purchased the Innova Group’s assets, including the Innova brand. They recognize the value and will maintain the brand in the North American market, and possibly expand into other English speaking countries where the Gumotex brand is not already well-established.
Any new innovations in store?
2016 is a stabilization and transition year for us. That said, we introduced a number of refreshed boats (Safari and Solar) and exciting brand new products (SeaWave) at the Outdoor Retailer in early August, including a small line of fishing boats (Halibut and Alfonso) for the 2017 season. As such, we will have kayaks for recreational, flat water and mild whitewater use, as well as boats one can stand up in and fish. For the 2018 season, we will have even more surprises, given the factory’s brand new automated production line.
What did Tim bring to the company?
Tim was the soul of Innova, tirelessly promoting not only the craft but the ability to go and get on the water in no time. He loved to talk shop but often the conversation would meander from there to politics, latest books he was interested in, poverty in Africa or currency trading.
How hard has it been to re-group after his passing?
We were in the process of planning for Tim’s retirement in a few year’s time and have been in conversations with the manufacturer about acquiring Innova as far back as early 2015. When Tim passed away unexpectedly, it only became more urgent. We were fortunate to find Maureen before the season started – she is the main contact for our partners and customers, we set up a new fulfillment center on the East Coast, set up new processes and contracted with back office as well as marketing functions, and are now looking for my replacement, a Gumotex/Innova General Manager for the North American market.
What’s unique about Innova craft?
The most unique feature is the material – environmentally sound, durable and lightweight. That said, over the years we have delivered innovative design features, great handling, and performance unparalleled in the market. Over the years we collected a number of stories from our customers - each one more amazing than the last. Our customers are the ones who make our products unique. Who else will take boats to the hot waters of the Mount Pinatubo, get a boat shredded by an alligator (on accident), or run the 600-mile long river to Timbuktu?
Will you still be involved?
I will be involved during the transition or as long as needed to onboard the new General Manager. After that, I am hoping to enjoy the Innova kayaks with my family – somewhere on the water for a change.
Bonus: New Innova Solar 410 C ($759)
The Solar 410 C is a new version of the Innova's favorite, the Solar 405. The Solar 410C is a more stable kayak, designed not only for recreation trips on lakes but also for trips lasting several days with baggage. The Safari 410 C is ready to go and tackle intermediate rapids. The Solar 410 is adaptable to carry a single person, 2 persons, and 3 persons, just by moving the inflatable seats. The Solar 410C comes with 2 inflatable seats but additional seats can be purchased.
Length 13 ½ ft.
Weight bearing capacity 595 lbs.
Number of persons 1-2-3
Air Chambers 3+2+2
Packed Dimensions 21x16x10