Tahoe SUP Celebrates 5 Years of Innovation in the Standup Paddle Industry
Sparks, NV- Standup Paddleboard manufacturer, Tahoe SUP, marks its 5 year anniversary this week. The brand was introduced to the public for the first time by founder, Nate Brouwer, in January of 2009 at the annual Surf Expo trade show in Orlando, Florida.
Brouwer, a Tahoe area resident, had checked out SUP surfing in Southern California in 2007 and spent the next year developing boards that were efficient and fun to paddle when not riding a wave, but “touring”, as he called it, on lakes, rivers and flat ocean. With Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake as the testing grounds, it was Brouwer’s love of the outdoors and desire for adventure that set the course for the Tahoe SUP brand.
Referred to as the fastest growing watersport in the world, SUP has reached the far corners of the globe and Tahoe SUP, regarded as a pioneer in the industry, continues to innovate and inspire. Brouwer takes a quick second to look back and peek into the future.
Q: What are some of your memories from that first Surf Expo, when you introduced a Standup Paddleboard for touring?
A: Dealers and other manufacturers were very intrigued by the concept and design of the boards. The brand “Tahoe” really stood out against the other surf brands that were there. We go lots of questions, stares…and some chuckles. But, Tahoe SUP was completely different than what everyone was used to seeing, flatwater recreational paddling wasn’t a consideration up to then.
Q: What were some of the challenges of launching a SUP brand, geographically far from the existing industry headquarters in Southern California?
A: It has allowed me to focus on what I believe a SUP board should look like without being influenced by surf. A big challenge these last 5 years has been educating dealers and consumers on the differences of surf style sup’s and what Tahoe SUP brand was imagined for. Out of the gate we focused on the inland, flatwater market, where SUP was an unknown name. So not only was SUP being introduced, we had to demonstrated the differences of board design. I’d call that a challenge.
Q: What have been the benefits of the inland HQ location?
A: Tahoe has become the flatwater meca for SUP in very much the same way it was for snowboarding in the 90’s. Being here near Lake Tahoe has allowed us to continue being inspired while keeping our message the same, Dream. Explore. Discover. We have been fortunate to have a passionate customer following and dealer base that “got it” early on and help spread the word. There are also some business benefits being in Nevada, but I won’t bore you with those.
Q: What freedom has the formation of Open Air Dynamics, the parent company for Tahoe SUP and Odyssey SUP, given your creativity?
A: I love to create. Open Air has allowed me to add additional brands born out of the love for the outdoors. These brands can stay focused on different areas of the same market. Odyssey our newest SUP brand has allowed me to focus on a more durable, economically priced SUP. Being imbedded in this industry for 5 years now, we sometimes forget that this is still a new sport and $1400, $1500 boards, even though beautiful, are a big purchase for someone looking to come into the sport. I like to say Odyssey is our Toyota and Tahoe, our Lexus.
Q: Why do you think the Standup Paddle market has grown so fast?
A: SUP isn’t like other sports that take a couple years to learn and get good at. It takes about 5 min to figure out how to balance on the boards and about 15 min to learn paddle technique. It connects you to your surroundings, connects you to your family and your friends who paddle with you. Or, its an escape. Either way the attraction of standing on the water and the perspective it offers really sells itself.
Q: What does the future hold for Tahoe SUP and Open Air Dynamics?
A: More cutting edge products and brands. I’m really excited about our new patented board building process called Thermosup™. It creates a far more durable, lightweight board and allows us to offer a better price for the consumer. At the end of the day we want to help educate the market about what board is best for the type of paddling you want to do.