In this edition of SUP Company Spotlight, InflatableBoarder.com caught up with KeNalu Paddles founder, Lane Mead. KeNalu has a unique approach to SUP paddle design, and the company continues to push the envelope when it comes to overall performance and consistent, top-shelf build quality.
How were you initially introduced to the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
I was living on Maui when Laird & a few of his friends (re)started the sport…within a couple of years quite a few people (myself included) were paddling out all around Maui, mostly riding small waves that you wouldn’t bother to try & “prone” surf. The only SUP boards at the time were just huge long boards.
What ignited the spark in you to get involved in the industry?
I had made some paddles back in the late 80’s early 90’s & when I saw some of the first paddle designs around SUP I thought I could do better so I set out to do so. Paddle design across the board has gotten a LOT more sophisticated than when the sport first started.
How important have good employees been to your success?
They’ve absolutely been an integral part of our success.
If you had a chance to start your company over again, what would you do differently?
…that’s a tough one, I suppose try to take things a bit easier & remember to enjoy myself more…& actually get out & paddle more.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Talking about product development (mostly regarding timelines) and putting my foot in my mouth when expected time lines have not worked out. I’ve learned to shut up about things until they’re a reality 🙂
How many hours a day do you work on average, and what does your typical day look like?
My workdays vary wildly; in the beginning a 16 hr. day was very common and they still can be when I’m trying to develop something new but I like to break things up during the day. I’ll typically start the day answering emails & doing customer service related things, then try to take a break & get outside & do something active, then return & work a bit into the evening.
What motivates you, and who has been your greatest inspiration?
What really motivates me is creating new designs. I have some things in the works that I’m really excited about…but I’m not going to talk about them yet (see above 🙂 ). Making something from nothing has always been really cool to me. I don’t think I have a single person I could list as my greatest inspiration; there have been so many people that have had a positive influence on me both inside & outside this industry that it wouldn’t be fair to list any one person above the others. I’ve been very fortunate to have some great mentors & friends who have helped inspire me throughout the years.
How do you define success?
Living a life you love.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the SUP industry?
Without a doubt the people I’ve met. This sport has put me in touch with so many great people that I never would have met otherwise.
Where do you see the paddleboarding industry in 10 years? 20 years?
That’s hard to say, I think we’ve seen a bit of a “level off” period over the past couple years & now SUP isn’t as “trendy” but I think that can be a good thing. The trend pumped a lot of money into the industry which has helped lead the sport in a more positive direction. But now that the “hype” is running out what’s left are the people that are dedicated to the sport so I think we’ll see a lot of the “junk” gear that came around basically just to grab a piece of the pie start to disappear but we’ll continue to see advancements in gear & technology thanks to the core paddlers (who have always been here).