We Build

Posted on Dec 02, 2011

We Build Canoes. That three-word statement proudly proclaimed above was the simplest way to express what we do at Kamanu Composites. But the meat of that phrase is We Build. We don’t outsource, re-sell, or source canoes. We build them. Carbon fiber and epoxy come in and canoes go out.

The world is changing so quickly that it can be hard to catch a glimpse as it slips by. Five years ago most of us had never heard of Facebook or Barak Obama. Our phones hadn’t taken over our lives. Money was cheap and jobs were plentiful. Climate change was a distant threat. Tahitian dominance in the Moloka’i Hoe was still being blamed on flat water. And almost nobody was building canoes in Hawai’i. We, as Americans, were on top of a cloud. Debt financing was the way of the future. We didn’t have to produce anything. The cloud was supposed to take us as long as we kept consuming.

But it didn’t. Our extreme leveraging caught up with us and we collapsed. The market peaked in October 2007. Nearly the exact day that Kamanu Composites produced its first canoe. As fate would have it, we began our future here as millions of Americans saw their futures disappear along with their savings, homes, and jobs in the Great Recession.

That is the world that Kamanu Composites grew up in. And it has had a profound impact on where we’re at today. The canoe brought us together; formed us as individuals, as a company, and as a community. But, in the end it’s not really about the canoe. It’s about building. It’s about local production. It’s about being one small gear in this great machine of a world. It’s about the fact that we can’t continually rely on someone else. As a company, Kamanu Composites has framed every decision around one simple premise. We believe wholeheartedly in local manufacturing. Because part of America’s problem was that we forgot how to manufacture after giving it all away. Once we understood why we were doing what we do, it became easy to do what we do. As a community we can have a much greater impact than a small canoe building shop. Every decision we make puts us either one step forward or one step back. The answers are easy, but it starts with understanding why.