Canada-based firm Trak Outdoors lauds Filipino workmanship, pushes for paddlesports growth

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A paddler tests the Trak’s 2.0 version kayak in the waters surrounding Corregidor Island. -- HARVEY TAPAN

HAVING established itself as home to quality workmanship, among other things, many global brands have decided to have their manufacturing and production site here in the Philippines.

One such company is Canada-based Trak Outdoors, which in seven years since putting up its factory in Mariveles, Bataan, has been enjoying the “delightful” experience that goes with working with Filipino workers and credits it as a big part to what it has become as a brand up to this point.

Maker of various outdoor products, in particular portable performance kayaks, Trak was established in 2006 and is headquartered in Airdrie, Alberta, Canada.

In 2012 it relocated its manufacturing and production in a world-class outdoor gear facility in Mariveles. It was a move that has been complementing well its thrust since, the company said.

“My experience working here and working with Filipino workers have been delightful. And it is mostly because of the people, the Philippine culture, the spirit of bayanihan (civic unity and cooperation) which is like being selfless and the concept of teamwork,” said Nolin Veillard, Trak managing director and founder, when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on setting up shop in the Philippines in the launch recently of the “2.0” version of their innovative kayaks in Corregidor Island.

“That’s our experience in the factory. People are very helpful and they have helped lift Trak and helped us develop the boats to the point that we have. It’s interesting that most people in the Philippines do not realize that you have a top-notch outdoor gear factory in Mariveles in Bataan and there are all this top outdoor brands in the world that get their manufacturing done here. Good people, good workers, good environment and it is enjoyable to work with them. They are smart and their commitment to detail and quality is high which is very important for the kind of products that we make. The ability to speak English, too, is a big help as we get to establish a good relationship with them,” added Mr. Veillard, whose company he said counts 40 to 50 Filipinos directly involved in product development. Trak is known for portable performance kayaks that can fit in a golf bag sized carrying case and can be taken anywhere.

The 2.0 version of the kayaks, which is a lighter and shorter iteration and makes use of carbon fiber ribs that make the kayak stiff for better performance in the water, was recently launched in the country, something Trak hopes would enhance the good reception the new version has been getting globally.

As per numbers shared by Trak, the 2.0 version, which was introduced via Kickstarter and Indiegogo, raised “more than $1 million in pre-sales during late 2017 and early 2018” and have been increasing still.

Mr. Veillard also shared that they as a company are pushing for the further growth of paddlesports, especially in countries with environs like the Philippines where kayaking fits well.

Last year Trak began offering kayak tours and experiences, with help from Kayak Philippines, to give people a chance to dip their hands in the sport.

“The core thing about kayaking is people being comfortable in the water. So training is important for the sport to grow. We work with Kayak Philippines in building interest and the community for paddling,” Mr. Veillard said.

Trak organized one-week kayak trips to Palawan in April and early this month which attracted a good number of participants.

Mr. Veillard went on to say that they, too, are open to helping the country’s kayak and canoe federation if ever asked, seeing it as another platform to help paddlesports grow.

“We are very much behind partnerships. We like to form partnerships if there is something that makes sense for us to grow the sport. We are open to that,” the Trak official said. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo