Kayak maker commits to Muskegon, announces expansion

The world's largest manufacturer of kayaks will remain in Muskegon.

MUSKEGON, MICH. - KL Outdoor choose the pyramid-shaped Terrace Point building at 700 Terrace Point Drive in Muskegon to establish a global headquarters.

The reflective glass office building on Muskegon Lake has been partially vacant for years. KL Outdoor will occupy the entire second floor. The space offers views of Muskegon Lake from every window. Executive leaders will move into the renovated space in November.

"All of the folks associated with the city, the county, and the state were tenacious in their approach," said Chuck Smith, KL Chief Executive Officer. "They had a 'you can't say no attitude.'"

Smith says KL Outdoor's recent merger with a Canadian kayak manufacture caused concern company leaders would move to Quebec. However after listening to local economic leaders, a decision to move into Terrace Point was made. 

"It became apparent to us very quickly that this would remain our home," said Smith.

Renovations on the space will begin next week. The location is just a few miles from the manufacturing center where KL Outdoor employees make a variety of kayaks.

The recent mergers gives KL dominance in the kayak manufacturing sector. "Together these two combined companies represent the largest producer of kayaks in the world and scale that is unprecedented in the outdoor industry," said Smith.

The city of Muskegon is offering the company a 12-year tax abatement. That helped local economic leaders sell this location.

"The state of Michigan, the county, the city, the chamber, the downtown organizations, all pitched in helping this come to fruition," said Ed Garner, President Muskegon Area First.

The company expects to create 153 new jobs. Most of those will be on the production floor.  

Muskegon Governor Rick Snyder visited the company's new space Friday. "Michigan is the state for this place if you stop and think about it," said Snyder.

Snyder believes company executives made the right decision. Michigan has 11,000 lakes and 3,000 miles of coastline. 

"We have made an emphasis on being a leader on water trails," said Snyder. "What a perfect home, what a perfect marriage."

KL Outdoor is also pledging to invest $9.2 million into facilities in Muskegon County.

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