Confluence Watersports will be manufacturing the entirety of its composite boat program in China, effective June 2009. Composite boats from its Wilderness Systems brand will be manufactured in a family-run factory in Hangzhou, China. While ultimately it is a decision to lower the costs associated with manufacturing composite boats in the Easley, S.C. factory, the company said the move represents “the strength of commitment Confluence has to the future of paddlesports and to providing its dealer base with a stronger retail opportunity.”

“This is a decision we came to after a thorough examination of its implications;” said Sue Rechner, CEO of Confluence Watersports. “Our initial cost analysis didn’t bode well for the future of composite boats. Now we see that this decision will enhance the quality of our composite program, enable a quicker turnaround and allow for a more competitive pricing schedule – all while bringing the cost structure down to a sustainable level. Through the process it became apparent that we weren’t outsourcing, as much as we were gaining a world-class partner.”

The company said the partnering factory have been making boats since 1986, including boats for the specialized realm of international, competitive sculling and rowing. With a host of international materials experts and artisans, the company is one of only four builders in the world to be endorsed by the International Federation of Rowing Associations (FISA). The company is an unequivocal leader in the composite market, Confluence said.

Confluence said what began as a financial decision quickly became an opportunity to strengthen this very important sector. The Chinese company has proven international experience with raw materials and well-established quality control measures. Due to its leading-edge understanding of composite materials, the boats will achieve up to a 10% weight reduction, without sacrificing strength or rigidity. Confluence personnel will inspect all boats before they leave China.

Of premier importance in the decision was the impact to dealer partners. Composite boats are primarily sold by specialty dealers and are an integral offering in the Confluence portfolio. Producing this sector in China allows for the program to continue and to be strengthened, in terms of quality, consistency, pricing and availability. Confluence dealer partners should not expect any interruptions in service or quality through the transition.

Confluence said a consequential result of the move is the freeing up time and space for the Easley-based, Confluence design and product development and engineering teams. Rechner added, “we have the strongest teams in the industry and this will give them another opportunity to apply their vast experience and creativity in taking the industry to the next level.”

Confluence's brands include Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, and Wave Sport kayaks, Mad River Canoe, Adventure Technology paddles, and Harmony accessories.