We are stoked to learn about the formation of Bonafide Kayaks, a new paddlesports company from the gadget gurus at YakAttack. Few details are available right now, one thing’s for sure, this is good news for anglers and the industry. According to a press release that hit streets last week, they plan to have a boat ready by next year’s ICAST tradeshow in June. In the release, owner Luther Cifers says: “We’re excited about the opportunity to design and manufacture fishing kayaks, and will make every effort to ensure our kayak designs give anglers the best we have to offer in terms of quality, features and functionality. A passion for manufacturing and a strong desire to serve this incredible community make this a really exciting endeavor and we can’t wait to get started.”
Reading between the lines, we expect fishing kayaks designed by kayak anglers with unique features and an out-of-the-box design. Knowing Cifers and the crew, the boats will be built tough with the highest quality components.
In short, the press release was too short to say much of anything. So we tracked down brain-child Luther Cifers and asked some questions about the new Bonafide kayaks.
Kayak Angler (KA): Why release this now if not coming out with boats until July?
Luther Cifers: There are a number of reasons, and this is something we deliberated on a lot.
The biggest reason is transparency. We have a lot of great relationships in this sport on the YakAttack side and felt like people should know that I will be involved with Bonafide. Keeping everyone on the same page with a major decision like this just felt like the right thing to do.
A second reason is that we have an opportunity here with lots of blank space on the canvas, and we want to complete that picture in a way that best serves our customers. Having the industry aware of what we are doing gives our customers (both dealers and kayak anglers) the opportunity to weigh in on how we build this business to best serve them.
The third, most significant reason, is that we now have the opportunity to share this experience with the kayak fishing community. From a business standpoint, we know this input will help us do a better job. But there’s a human element that’s just as important. This is an exciting, positive life experience, and we’re looking forward to sharing that experience with our friends and customers.
KA: What type of kayaks? SUPs? How many models? Inshore, offshore?Pedal drive? Motor drive?
LC: Our primary focus is fishing kayaks, and we plan to launch our first model at iCAST 2017. We’re still early in the process, but I’d expect that kayak to perform well for its intended use. We want to build a kayak that paddles well and is great to fish out of, and that will be where we put our design and development efforts.
KA: How will Bonafide be different from other kayak companies? What gaps do you see in the market?
LC: I think every company is different, and this industry has a lot of truly great kayak manufacturers. We’re not doing this because we think those companies aren’t doing a great job. Every brand has things that make it exciting and unique and we appreciate those aspects of each kayak brand out there. We want to see our friends in the industry continue to grow and succeed. Our focus is strictly on the sport and the customers, and we want to solve the kayak fishing application in a way that appeals uniquely to the needs of the kayak angler. If we allow our core objectives and principles to guide us, we will create our own successful brand with its own identity and strengths. I’m confident that, particularly in this growing market, we can do that while our friends continue to succeed as well.
KA: Why a kayak company?
LC: Because we love this sport and this creates another way to serve it in our own, unique way.
KA: Will your competitors still rig with YakAttack accessories?
LC: I hope so and I think so. To YakAttack, they are customers, not competitors. Bonafide is a new OEM customer, but that’s not an exclusive or preferred relationship. My YakAttack hat has no interest in becoming subservient to my Bonafide hat. YakAttack is here to serve both aftermarket and OEM markets, and will continue to do both in a way that’s in the interests of its customers. It may change the way information with kayak manufacturers is shared (another reason for the early disclosure) but YakAttack has developed strong manufacturing skills that are a real benefit to our partners. In my view, those relationships are as strong as ever and YakAttack will continue to do everything in its power to serve all of its OEM customers in a way that helps them achieve their objectives.
KA: Who did you reach out to for advice?
LC: I have a lot of friends in the industry who have offered moral support and advice, as I’ve done for them over the years and will continue to. We’ve all played our respective roles in helping to grow this sport for some time now and share a desire not only to grow our companies, but to see positive developments in the sport of kayak fishing and in one another. On a personal level, I suspect that kind of mutual respect and support will continue.
KA: Where do you see Bonafide in one year, five years?
LC: One year from now I hope we have a great kayak and a growing base of excited dealers and anglers. Beyond that my hope is simply that we will do a good job serving and helping to grow the sport of kayak fishing and that we make a bunch of US manufacturing jobs in the process!