This year will be the end of an era of sorts for the canoe industry. PolyOne Corporation, the sole manufacturer of Royalex, has announced that it will stop production of the material in April 2014. Royalex has been in use since the early 1970's and has always maintained a strong presence in the canoe market, offering a durable and relatively inexpensive option to materials like Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, and Cedar Strips. So what's next for the canoe industry?
Many canoe manufacturers are working hard to procure enough Royalex sheet stock to complete their 2014 product offering, but most assume there will be none available for 2015 boats. Since the July 2013 announcement from PolyOne Corp, a number of manufacturers have been researching alternative materials that will fill the void in the entry level and whitewater segments of their business. Some small manufacturers will likely face some hard business decisions in the coming year, and the industry in general will need to give this a lot of thought, but much like the birth of Royalex as an alternative to Aluminum in the 70's, a product will come along to take its place. We only need to look back as early as 2005 to observe a similar instance in the watersport industry, when Clark Form, the single supplier of surfboard blanks closed. This crisis ended with the development of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) surfboards. So, don't put a fork in the canoe industry just yet, because as we know "Necessity if the Mother of all Invention".
"The crisis of today, is the joke of tomorrow." - H.G. Wells