We have been madly air testing, cleaning and getting our demo boats ready for sale. Be watching the specials page on Wednesday, Sept. 15th for the list!
Raft handles have been a bit of a sore subject here at AIRE. Three years ago we thought we had come up with a good looking, comfortable, functional handle for our rafts and catarafts. We were mistaken. They were marginal at best and to make matter worse, they were particularly hard to replace and that makes for a grouchy repair department.
The customer feedback was unanimous, something had to be done! There was a *battle between the Sales and Engineering departments. It was fought with dirty looks, swords, passive aggressiveness, and an incident with a forklift. After the dust settled, a new handle emerged victorious.
We could all agree on this handle because:
If your grey handles are falling apart and you don’t want to hassle sending your boat to one of our service centers, shoot us an email to email@example.com. Include a picture of your bad handles and your boat serial number so we can send you the handle replacements.
*no staff was injured during the production of this handle. Well…not seriously injured.
Life is a good story, life on the river is a great story. We want to here and share your river stories on our blog. Email your photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If your story is picked for the blog, you can get some sweet AIRE shwag!
And now, a River Story...
The day was perfect for a run down the world famous Payette River in Idaho—hot! It had been awhile since I last went whitewater rafting and after the run on the canyon section I am left to ask myself, “What took so long?”We began the run just after noon and it started off with a few teaser rapids, wave trains as they’re called (or something like that). These teasers gave our guide (who happened to be my brother) an opportunity to shout commands at us such as, “all forward!” or, “right forward, left back!” to see what and how our response would be. I think we responded well. Then the fun began. “Make sure we’re locked and loaded” I heard from the rear of the boat. Of course, this meant we were approaching a rapid that deserved our full attention. Our boat was getting closer and closer to the rushing whitewater and then, “ALL FORWARD!” My heart began pounding in my chest.
He positioned the boat perfectly and we made it through the rapid successfully and then we were at our lunch spot. The energy lunch provided was much needed as the fiercest part of the run was up next. A few class 4 rapids in succession. As one kayaker who was with us said, “Now the real fun begins.” And boy, was he right. After lunch it was class 4 after class 4 with rapids such as Blackadar, Lower Blackadar, Lone Pine (named for the lone pine tree on the cliff above the rapid) and Surprise. I don’t know that my heart has pounded so hard for so long in my life. I loved it! Lets not forget the portage around Big Falls. What a spectacular rapid—how beautiful the river. Oh, and the cliff jumping! Groovy! We made it through our entire run without flipping and without any swimmers. Some might call that a success, some might not. At any rate, that entire run was a blast and the adrenaline was sure in abundance.
Troy, the Marketing Manager, sauntered into our sales office like he had done so many times before but instead of asking us to proof some bit of advertising material, he clasped his hands together and said, “I wanted to let you guys know that my last day with AIRE is going to be June 30th.” My jaw just about hit the floor. Employees come and go, but Troy knew everything about everything. He was more then the advertising guy, he was my personal Sea Tiger expert, keeper of product history and the company computer whiz.
After 12 years with the AIRE, Troy had collected a few good stories, and since he is not here to protest, I’m going to tell a couple:
Troy had the opportunity to travel to a few trade shows and one particular trip to Colorado was especially memorable. The trade show was the same weekend as a Rockies game and Chris, the Sales Manager (who is an avid baseball fan), had a group of people put together to go to the game after the show. Troy was not a huge baseball fan, but it is the All-American pass time so he joined his baseball lovin’ associates to the game. Deep in the 9th (I don’t actually know the inning) a foul ball came sailing into his section. It has been said that Troy never moved so fast in his life. That ball rested proudly on his desk from that point forward, much to the chagrin of the Sales Manager.
Troy was in charge of promotional items and had quite a good collection of hats built up in his office. He had sample hats, hats from other companies, hats of all shapes and colors. One winter day, they “mysteriously” disappeared. For a month he did not know where they were or who took them (though, I’m pretty sure he had a good idea). When he got back from Christmas break his screen saver reveled a photo of the entire sales, purchasing and engineering staff (including Zeke the dog), lined up on the stairs each grinning from ear to ear, wearing one of his hats. Maybe he was mad, maybe just more mature then any of us, but he never really did say much about the hat incident…we all thought it was pretty funny.
One June 30th, he gave me some final pieces of advice, got pushed into the testing pond and pointed car to the East where a new adventure is waiting for him!
Businesses that adopt “green” policies tend to find some financial savings and can pick up some good pubic relations. So, here is my shameless attempt to impress you with our environmental awesomeness and with a cooperative relationship we have with a local Boise company.
Early, every Monday though Friday our factory fires up and sheets of fabric are laid over two huge cutting tables. The cutting tables are like reverse air hockey tables, they suck the fabric down tight so an automated blade can skate across the fabric whipping out amazing boats and accessories. For the most part, we have been able to pattern our cutting to keep scrap at a minimum.
But even with our efficient engineering, there is still a small rainbow assortment of waste that we don’t really want to pile into our dumpster. AIRE has done pretty good keeping our scrap out of the landfill; some scrap is sent out to our service centers, some turn into d-rings and some of it is goes to Esh.
What is Esh? I’m glad you asked!
Esh is a grassroots, local clothing manufacture that is beginning to gain a little niche in the climbing/outdoor market. Rich Gardunia, the founder of Esh, is a crazy good climber, cranked a bike from one end of this county to the other, can brush his teeth while walking across a slack line and can run a pretty mean sewing machine. He started Esh with one product called the Belay Slave and has since diversified his line using recycled materials such as old climbing gear, bike tires and now, scrap AIRE material.
I have been pondering how to write this blog without sounding like I’m dogging on our Tributary brand, but it is true, Tributary and AIRE are not the same. We created Tributary as a cheaper division of AIRE, and by cheaper I do mean lower in price, warranty and quality. We’ve had Tributary boats for 6 years and it has been a great addition to our selection. With Tributary we try to compete with the price of glued PVC boats and still give you a well constructed boat with good components.
We try really hard to have a good reputation of customer service and satisfaction and do our best to go above and beyond expectations, so it bums me out whenever I talk to a Tributary customer who thinks they have an AIRE warranty. I end up feeling like the bad guy and they end up feeling mislead. Here is my attempt to explain and clear up any misunderstanding between AIRE and Tributary and be as entertaining as possible.
Materials – All AIRE boats use Ferrari brand PreContraint PVC. If you have ever been to the Denver Airport, you have seen Ferrari PVC. It is high quality material, it has to be, it is associated with the word “Ferrari”. We use Ferrari PVC on the callers and floor bottoms of Tributary Rafts as well as the tubes of Tributary Catarafts. We didn’t want to skimp on the PreContraint technology on the bigger boats, however; it is lighter PVC (31oz per square yard) then the AIRE PVC (35/43 oz. per square yard). We also cut a little corner on cost and quality by using Chinese PVC on the raft floor tops, thwarts and all the Tributary kayaks.
All the Tributary Rafts and Catarafts and Strike series kayaks have urethane AIREcells (clever name for bladders) just like the AIRE boats. The Tributary Tomcats and the Sawtooths have Vinyl AIREcells. Vinyl is not as good as Urethane, but it is not as expensive either and we pass that cost saving onto the consumer.
Construction and Design – For the most part, Tributary boats are constructed and assembled the same way as AIRE boats, basically, a PVC shell with an air holding bladder layer. We don’t glue seams; this is true for AIRE and Tributary. Tomcat and Sawtooths have polyester stitched seams all the other Tributary boats have welded seams. Most of the Tributary boats have designs based on old AIRE designed. The Catarafts are old Jaguarondi and Ocelots, the Strike is an old Force Expedition and the Tomcat is based off the Caracals.
Labor – All AIRE boats are made in the heart of Idaho. All Tributary Boats are made in China. Need I say more?
Warranty – NONE of the Tributary boats have a no fault warranty. All of the AIRE boats have a no fault warrant. Tributary has 1 and 5 year limited warranties which are not the same as the AIRE no fault warranty. This piece of information is getting lost somewhere between shopping, buying and realizing the Tributary boat has flown off the trailer onto the highway and completed a few back flips on the pavement. I beg you, please read the warranties, they are right here, they are short, you will see that the no fault warranty protects against user damage and the limited warranties do not.
So, now that we have established that Tributary is a completely different product line then AIRE, here is some Tributary boats doing some Awesome whitewater, enjoy!
AIRE has been making boats for over 20 years with a PVC shell and the Urethane AIREcell (bladder) system. Last year AIRE introduce a new fabric option and built a few boats with a Urethane shell. Since that time we have been getting a few questions about our Urethane boats.
At this particular point in time, we have no intension of going completely away from PVC. We have been using PVC for over 20 years for good reasons. PVC it is tough, resilient to river abuse, and relatively inexpensive which is a savings we can pass onto the users. It is also easy to work with in the manufacturing process and makes a strong weld. We trust our PVC with the urethane bladder combination to give you top performance and durability and we back it up with a 10 year no fault warranty.
The urethane fabric we are offering is not PVC material coated in spay on urethane, the fabric is Urethane. Both fabrics have a 1670 base denier polyester weave but instead of Polyvinyl Chloride being layered onto the bass fabric, it is Polyurethane.
The Urethane fabric is about 10 times more abrasion resistant then PVC, which is a big part of why we decided to offer it as a custom, top of the line option. For example, with a PVC fabric, it took a little over 1200 cycles using the TABER H-22 wheel test to expose the base fabric. The Urethane fabric took over 12,000 cycles before the base fabric was exposed. (This test compared Erez PVC to Erez PU)
All our rafts and catarafts can be built with urethane in the colors yellow, blue and orange and they still have urethane bladders. These boats will be a few pounds heavier then their PVC counterparts and they will look more shinny. When we tested the above urethane boat on the Lochsa, I think it felt a little stiffer and it still looked brand new when we took it off the water. The urethane material is much more expensive then the PVC and will increase the price of the raft or cataraft by about $1100.00. At this point, we do not stock Urethane boats here at the factory. If you would like one of these boats call your local dealer to place an order, it usually takes us about 4 weeks to get urethane boats through production. Boats built with Urethane still get the 10 year no fault warranty.
If you have any addition questions give us a call at 1-800-247-3432 or send an email to email@example.com.
I had been working seasonal jobs and enjoying the variety of University life for 6 years, but on November 1, 2007 I had a desk; a green one with PC on it and one side bumped up next to a cubical wall. It was a bitter sweet moment in life. It was sweet to be working for an outdoor company and I was happy to have been offered a good job with some great people, but it was still a desk and this was my first year-round career working for the machine of industry, working for…The Man. Then, as I was getting situated in my new surroundings, my desk gave me a little gift of inspiration and the bitter in the moment was gone. Scotch taped to the inside of my desk drawer was a quote. The quote probably originated on a 70’s era bumper sticker and is one we have all heard before:
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn-out, shouting holy sh*t, what a ride!”
It was a little reminder to keep it real. A reminder that the work week may be 40 hours, but the weekend is 48! Working a “real” job was going to be okay, and it has been. "Living the dream" can happen in any circumstance.
People I get to interact with at this job remind me of the tattered little quote taped in my desk. We have a dealer in Colorado and the owner lost his hand while playing in the great outdoors a few months ago. On Nov 9th he posted a picture of himself back on his mountain bike. Another that comes to mind was an email I received from Grandma Dale (not my grandmother), she said;
“I'm a 65 year old grandmother with two artificial knees and a hip replacement who has never been on the river before. My new husband has been a white water canoer for 30+ years. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out on the water with him due to all those restrictions. However, look at me!!! This picture was taken on my 4 trip out in my new boat. I haven't had so much fun in years.”