Navy Paddles Takes on the Day — And the New Year — Despite COVID-19 Challenges
Happy New Year! At Navy Paddles, we really do have a lot to celebrate. 2022 marks the 10th anniversary of Navy Paddles’ founding. That’s 10 years of refining our craft, streamlining our ordering system, and expanding our business.
2022 also marks two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as much of the world was shut down for COVID-19, Navy Paddles never shut its doors or stopped production. In fact, we added to our team and rang in the new year with a brand-new website to better serve our growing customers.
While Navy Paddles is excited to take on the new year, we know that COVID-19 will continue to impact our business and our customers. We feel very fortunate that, to date, our particular business model has made it easier to stay flexible and successful with these continued economic and public health challenges. However, we know that the social and economic issues that came with COVID shutdowns, exacerbated by poor policy-making from federal agencies and politicians, will outlast COVID-19 itself. No matter how flexible we are at Navy Paddles, the supply chain issues that businesses across all industries face will also impact how we operate.
Self-sufficient Solutions to COVID-19 Shutdowns
The Navy Paddles shop is situated on 160 acres in the heart of Wisconsin. Our hardwood paddles are made from cherry, aspen, oak, and black walnut trees cut from the forests surrounding our farmlands. Our team manufactures the hardwood paddles, hammers, fins, tridents, and plaques in our own workshop. This cuts down costs significantly for our customers, even before the COVID-related shortages that sent lumber prices skyrocketing.
Our softwood paddles are a different story. These Mississippi gumwood paddles are produced by a US manufacturer in Calhoun, MS, so Navy Paddles does not have as much control over price and quality. As a mass manufacturer, this company that produces our softwood paddles is struggling to get enough lumber. They have been forced to use subpar, discolored lumber that would normally be discarded. They have also discontinued their line of 2.5-foot paddles, which means Navy Paddles will also eventually have to discontinue this product line once our stock runs out, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
We will certainly continue to stock our hardwood products and expand our inventory to supplement the softwood paddle shortage in the face of COVID. We’ll also grow our line of softwood paddles that are painted black to ensure our customers have the highest-quality finish available to them.
Careful and Creative Planning
Many of our add-on options such as Ka-Bar knives and their display box and warfare pins are also impacted by manufacturing disruptions and shipping delays from the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of workers on docks and in manufacturing have caused cargo ships to bottleneck in Long Beach and other ports, increasing delays for nearly everyone.
At Navy Paddles, we know that many of our products are ordered for award and presentation ceremonies with hard deadlines. We know that planning events around COVID-19 now requires quite a bit of flexibility. With possible shipping delays constantly looming, designing and ordering our products with a set deadline requires even more thoughtful planning and notice.
Regardless of COVID-19 issues, Navy Paddles’ new website will make things run more smoothly for our customers. The ordering process is streamlined, communication between our team and our customers is easier, and there’s a greater array of products available online.
The Navy Paddles customer service and design teams are also working with our customers to develop creative and faster solutions to COVID-19 delays without sacrificing the quality of our products and the stories they tell. For example, if an order does need to be completed by a last-minute presentation date and add-ons like warfare pins and rank devices are not immediately accessible, we can bypass the time it takes to ship such items by engraving them directly onto the product.
Thank you to all of our valued customers!
It’s a great point of pride that we’ve been able to keep operating and providing our customers with the very best that we have to offer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to have the freedom that we do to work with our customers on an individual basis to make the best of a bad economic situation. The flexibility that we have now is certainly due to the continued support our customers have given Navy Paddles over the last 10 years.
Navy Paddles is excited to keep expanding the products and services that we have control over, and we certainly look forward to the day when America gets back to work at 100% capacity. For now, the economic fallout from COVID-19 policies require that our product offerings look a little different. We’ll have to work with our customers to plan around deadlines very carefully until COVID-19 has less of an impact on shipping and manufacturing. But Navy Paddles will still continue to make beautiful, handcrafted products that honor achievements and remember milestones, just as we have for the past decade.