This year marks the 70th year of Folbot and my 20th year at the con. Lest you be misled, being in charge of a company of Folbot’s size encompasses duties ranging from taking out the trash to making those important decisions that have the potential for causing our immediate demise. But in between those two extremes are many very rewarding activities, such as designing new boats, improving old models or working on production methods that might lead to a better or more cost-effective way of doing stuff. Whoever said “If you love what you do, you never have to work” (or something like that) was right on. But this was pretty much what I expected from the start.
Beginning with day one, twenty years ago, when I sneaked into the plant on a Saturday morning to assemble a folding Sporty – I still bear the scars of that experience – reality has generally equaled expectations with two outstanding exceptions.
1. There really is a Folbot Community throughout the world. The various Flotillae (feel free to make that word your own) that have been organized (Charleston, Flamingo, Scotland, Australia, Portland Area, and the upcoming Flamingo2 and Rideau Canal) are testimonials to the folks who lay the groundwork, participate and clearly enjoy their time together. One of our New Year’s Resolutions is to provide more company support for these events, at least to the extent that you will have us. And this doesn’t even include the thousands of you who casually paddle together and generously write to tell us of your exciting exploits and the friends you’ve made.
2. Our customers are unbelievably kind. We have close contact (usually by phone, often in person) with almost 100% of our customers. 99.9% are patient, understanding, tolerant, good-natured and good-humored when we screw up, which happens at an unsatisfactory rate, since our goal is perfection. I will devote an entire ramble to the remaining .1% at a later date and will derive much pleasure from doing so. I honestly expected more like a 75/25 ratio at best and have been stunned at how truly nice you all are, or as my son, Ben, would say: Ya’ll rock! It feels good to now have very close friends dotted around the world stemming from a relationship that began with a simple email of inquiry to our company.
Maybe it’s the season, but I needed to thank you very much for the last twenty. Because of you, we look forward to the next.