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Innova is located between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, near the world famous paddling of the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea. It is owned by partners Tim Rosenhan and Paul Neutz. Tim Rosenhan runs the day-to-day operations. When you call, there's a good chance you'll get Tim on the phone (except during the busy season).
Why did they do it?
In the early 90's, Innova introduced high-end inflatable touring kayaks to the North American market. Before these kayaks came onto the North American paddling scene, the only inflatable kayaks available were vinyl pool toys or whitewater specific "Duckies" for river outfitters.
As the walls of Eastern Europe tumbled down, Paul visited his hometown, Prague, and couldn't help but notice people in inflatable kayaks paddling the Vltava river which runs through the city. The quality of these boats was unmistakable. They were made of the same durable material as Zodiacs and whitewater rafts. And the inflatable boats were bright orange, a legacy of darker times when the communist government demanded that the kayaks be made out of bright materials so that people trying to escape could easily be picked out as they floated down the river.
To Paul and Tim, who share a love of kayaking, it seemed that these boats were the perfect marriage of performance and portability...and they would be loved by North American paddlers. The Czech factory, which Paul and Tim later partnered with, had a long history -- they had been building inflatable boats for the world since 1950.
And they were right!
As they began selling Innova boats, people began buying them:
And although Tim would rather be paddling, he always gets a kick when customers send in photos and stories from faraway places involving water, fun, and Innova kayaks.
One of Tim's favorite stories is when real-world adventurer Kira Salak took her Innova Safari on a 600-mile solo expedition down the Niger River to Timbuktu. Deep into the Sahara, Kira had to outpaddle some threatening Toureg tribesmen as they chased her in their dugouts. Tim loves that Kira could count on her Innova in a pinch.
Paul and Tim helped raise the awareness of the value, durability, and performance of Innova inflatable kayaks. Recent innovations include the introduction of "PVC free" materials offering the same durability but a greener future.
Innova now offers boats for every paddling niche -- from expedition sea kayaks to whitewater canoes.