World-class watertight sea kayak hatches for Kajak Sport
The infamous sales trip to Stockholm was overwhelming 30 years ago – Now, according to customers, the Finnish product is the best in the world
Kajak Sport from Pori exports kayak parts to more than 40 countries. One of the company’s main products is the sea kayak deck hatch. Kayaking enthusiasts from Japan to Australia know the deck hatches made by Teknikum for Kajak Sport and consider them the best in the world according to customer feedback received by CEO Marko Bryggare.
The company behind the world-famous brand, Kajak Sport, is Karhumuovi Oy from Pori. The company started manufacturing sea kayaks just over 30 years ago, but after colorful stages, specialized in producing kayak parts and equipment.
-It all started so that Kajak Sport had very experienced paddlers as owner and founder. It was their dream to make our own top-quality sea kayak and one model was archived, too. It was called Artisan, recalls Bryggare.
Plans into new ones after Eskimo rolls
– Then an infamous sales trip was made from Finland to “the other side of the bay” to Stockholm, Sweden. Back then, the kayak had only two hatches, one at the front and one at the back. We had built our kayak out of fiberglass, with a separate and rather clumsy hatch seal. Of course, no special attention was paid to the hatch, as the kayak was the main product and a matter of pride.
Juha Karvinen went convincingly to present the product in Stockholm. The Sweden’s largest kayak retailer said “OK, let’s put the kayak in the water and do, let’s say, about ten Eskimo rolls”.
It is important for paddlers that phones, cameras, keys and other items in the kayak stay safe and dry even in harsh sea conditions.
– Juha worked as instructed and the kayak was brought to shore. The Swede opened the hatches and the kayak was full of water.
– “Thank you for the presentation. Then come back when you have a product that holds water.”
That moment then became a turning point for the company’s future: could the deck hatches be manufactured industrially and in a such way that they are certainly waterproof, maintenance-free and inexpensive?
– After that we realized our challenge and decided that the hatches must be made watertight for the kayaks to be sold. Just over a year later, we gave a new sales presentation a go with new deck hatches on board. The Swede stated that they are watertight, and cooperation can be started. The kayaks started to sell well, Marko Bryggare paddles through the success story.
– It didn’t take long for other kayak manufacturers to ask, would it be possible to buy them separately.
The deck hatch of the kayak must also withstand the pressure fluctuations inside the kayak caused by temperature changes.
Now Kajak Sport exports kayak components to dozens of countries to other kayak builders and industry stores. At the core of the demand for deck hatches is the product’s high-quality development work and the manufacturing of a rubber part by Teknikum in Finland.
Technical know-how is the key to success
The cooperation between Teknikum and Kajak Sport has lasted for more than 25 years. Over the years, Teknikum has developed a specific rubber compound for this very need, which makes deck hatches watertight and weather resistant. So far, hundreds of thousands of deck hatches have been exported to the world.
According to Marko Bryggare, CEO of Karhumuovi Oy, it is important for their company that the partner Teknikum is also a Finnish company. It guarantees quality and a fast production chain and, as seen over the years, close cooperation in the development of the deck hatch product family.
The hatches manufactured by Teknikum for Kajak Sport are known all over the world.
-Not even the Chinese phenomenon of the early 2000s made us move productions there, even though quite a few customers moved at the time.
The strength of the strategy has emerged, especially now that the supply chain needs to be secure and fast.
-Teknikum has found the right rubber recipe to suit our wishes. The strength of Teknikum is that they mix it from the raw material themselves. For us, this is a truly effective cooperation and the percentage of complaints is practically non-existent.
Jani Hämäläinen, President and CEO of Teknikum Group, appreciates the close cooperation between the companies.
– It has been a pleasure for us to follow Kajak Sport’s conquest of the world’s seas. Our product development and production capacity will continue to scale to support their growth.
For demanding operating environments
Marko Bryggare opens the so-called day hatch of the kayak and slips his phone back in the Port of Kallo in Mäntyluoto Finland.
– There are no moving parts in the hatch. There is nothing that could break, as the structure and material are in place. Many similar products leak water, are more difficult to use, or are not weatherproof.
Kajak Sport’s hatches are manufactured in Finland at the Teknikum Vammala plant
-Everything starts from the correct raw material compound and dimensional accuracy. Without those, the hatch will not operate at different temperatures and pressure conditions. An overpressure or underpressure easily builds up in the kayak because it is a tank space. Water temperature and sun change the kayak’s internal volume and these effects pose challenges to the hatch grip. Together with us, Teknikum has found an absolutely brilliant structure for the product.
- Read more about Kajak Sport here.
- Learn more about Teknikum rubber compounds and development services.
- Learn more about customer specific polymer parts and contract manufacturing.
- Contact Teknikum sales for more information.