Jackson Kayak increases employee wages, adds to staff

WHITE COUNTY ​— Local kayak manufacturer Jackson Kayak is now among one of the area’s highest-paying employers for plastics production type work.  

According to Jeff Leach, Jackson Kayak human resources, a quick snapshot of area plastics production work shows wages between $9-$14 per hour.  

“Our similar role pays $13 (per hour) starting out with a top-out of $16 dollars (per hour) in 18 months,” he said.  

Jackson Kayak employees will now see an increase in pay; on average, starting at $12 to $13 per hour for most positions. That’s an increase from $10-$12. The company has also established an aggressive performance incentive program with reviews at 90 days, six months, 12 months and 18 months. Wages now top out at $14-$16 an hour for production employees, without considering off-shift premiums.  

As an incentive to cover second- and third-shift operations, Jackson Kayak offers an additional $1.25 per hour for second shift workers and $1.50 per hour in additional wages for those working third shift. Employees who handle roto-molding, for example, during an off-shift have the potential to earn $17.25-$17.50 per hour after only 18 months. 

“We’re so pleased to see local industry rewarding their quality employees with better wages and performance incentives. This is a great step toward raising the standard of living in White County, and we’re grateful for the partnership we have with Jackson Kayak,” said White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson.  

The pay increases are an opportunity for Jackson Kayak to reward staff for their hard work and dedication as demand for their popular outdoor products continues to increase.  

“From a leadership perspective, we are very proud to be able to pass on some of the company’s  

 stellar performance to (employees),” Leach said. “They are hard workers making the stellar products (our) customers are emphatic about and certainly deserve and have earned it.”  

In addition to the recently announced wage increases, Jackson Kayak also announced new attendance programs and benefits. The attendance program will reward any employee who follows their shift perfectly for 90 days with $50, allowing employees to earn up to $200 for perfect attendance.  

While COVID-19 has had a negative impact on many small businesses, Jackson Kayak, a leader in kayak innovation and build quality, is seeing a boom in sales leading to an increased production demand and the demand for additional labor.  

“We simply have orders booked beyond belief – until the end of the year,” Leach said.  

With the increase in sales, Jackson Kayak has also added several employees to the roster in recent months. Jackson Kayak has onboarded 18 new employees in just the last two weeks, bringing the manufacturer’s total number of employees to 112.  

“At Jackson Kayak, we always have exciting, cutting-edge things in the works,” Leach said. “That is what makes us one of the foremost leaders in performance kayaks. We do things differently at Jackson Kayak. The employees really get to be part of the process and have a real sense of ownership in the product.”  

About Jackson Kayak:  

Located in Sparta, Jackson Kayak designs, builds and manufactures leading whitewater kayaks, fishing kayaks and exploration kayaks, as well as paddling and outdoor products. Their motto “Outdoor to the Core” represents a company-wide passion for getting outside. Jackson Kayak has always had a focus on “Made in the USA” and supporting local economy. Their success is largely due to delivering high-quality products through paddlesports specialty shops globally; all supported by regional, national and international team members who are engaged to promote the outdoor lifestyle.

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