On August 28, Johnson Outdoors announced that they were consolidating the manufacturing of Necky kayaks from Abbottsford, British Columbia, to its Ocean Kayak facilities located in Ferndale, Wash. The Necky brand name will continue along with a separate sales, marketing and new product development functions Johnson announced. It's anyone's guess, however, how many employees at the Abbottsford facility are affected by the factory closing and when this consolidation will actually take place.
Representatives at Necky told SNEWS® that they really knew nothing more than the vague announcement offered in the Johnson Outdoors press release. In fact, one Necky representative who insisted on anonymity stated, "You (SNEWS®) probably know more than we do. They (Johnson) haven't told us anything outside of a brief two-minute announcement last week."
Johnson Outdoors CEO, Helen Johnson-Leipold was quoted in the release as saying: "This (consolidation) is part of our continuing effort to gain meaningful efficiencies in our manufacturing operations."
SNEWS® View: Meaningful efficiencies? Allow SNEWS® to translate. Conversations with insiders at both Johnson and Necky offer the following clues to the meaning behind the decision to close Abbottsford. First, it does appear to make sense economically to take action now on a long-considered consolidation of facilities, especially with paddlesports and the economy limping along. Johnson could either choose to run two manufacturing facilities barely 30 miles apart at less than full capacity, or run one, very smooth operation at full capacity. The Ferndale Ocean Kayak manufacturing facility is a very efficient one, so that decision appears to be a no-brainer. It was also rumored that the Abbottsford folks were in discussions to unionize, and while that alone might not trigger Johnson's action, it certainly didn't discourage it. As for the rep force, that appears to be continuing on without change -- a wise decision.