Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes of Kokatat Watersports Wear

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kokatat owner Steve O'Meara since he told me, "Welcome to the Kokatat Family" as the first Canadian Sales Rep, in the buffet line of then Kokatat Sales Manager, Michael Duffy's wedding reception over 8 years ago.

I could say a lot about Steve as a "boss" (it's all good) but I wanted to talk to him about the Kokatat that many of you don't know, so I put together a few questions and gave him a call.

Me:  What is something about the company that folks do not
Steve:  It's not like this is a secret because some people know, the idea of Kokatat began as a retail store.
Me:  What makes us unique apart from the great gear we build?
Steve:  Maybe not totally unique but we have always put employees and customers
first.  What that means is when we make
decisions especially on the employee side of our business it may not be what is best for the company.  For example, if employees need time off to attend events at their child's school or deal with a family matter, it's a no pressure situation.  It's simple - family comes first.
Me:  Do we as a corporation support a local charity (Humboldt Country)?
Steve:  We support many, many charities everything from small local, employee chosen events
to the larger Breast Cancer Project here in Humboldt County.  We also support numerous water related charities including Friends of Trinity River locally.  We support charities in the form of cash and products and it's probably over 100 charities in total Kokatat supports.
Me:  Do we bring people into the business within a special
employment program?
Steve:  Kokatat has participated in various programs that enable people with disabilities the opportunity to be employed and/or receive on the job training.  We have also worked with the local Seniors Centre and had some of them work with us too.  As a bit of an aside, there is no trained workforce here in Humboldt County particularly on the manufacturing side so we do all our own on the job training here at Kokatat.

Me:  What do you do to keep yourself balanced when directing
a successful business?
Steve:  I have never been someone who works all the time.  I strongly believe in our company's "family first" philosophy and I apply it to myself too.  I also have great people working here so I can be away from
Kokatat and it works just fine.
Me:  Where is your favourite paddling destination and why?
Steve:  Locally it would be Humboldt Bay due to accessibility, it's close by and  I love the Northeastern US.  The Adirondacks are a favourite spot when I visit friends and former
Kokatat reps Nick and Lisa Dyslin.
Me:  What is your favourite piece of Kokatat gear?
Steve:  Probably, the piece I use the
most on the water is a piece we don’t make anymore the Windstopper Pullover.  For current in-line products, the Goretex Full Zip Jacket for everyday use and the Goretex TecTOUR Anorak for on the water.

Location:Cliffe Ave,Courtenay,Canada

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin