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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Testimonials - Getting To The Heart Of It

We have received many heartwarming emails from paddlers over the past few years about their Badger® paddle(s). Some even ended up serving as testimonials. Some of these testimonials make us feel pride in our work and relationships with other paddlers, others have wowed us, a couple have made us smile, one or two made us laugh, and the most recent messages received actually made us tear up with emotion!

It may sound a little weird to think that a customer testimonial could make a business owner laugh or get all teary eyed, but it happens! Especially when we put so much thought and effort into each paddle and what (in our case Badger®) our business stands for.... when each thing we do or make contains so much of us, ourselves. It becomes.... well.... it becomes very personal. For us, there really is a piece of ourselves in every paddle we make. So, yes, sometimes a person's reaction can evoke pretty strong emotions for an artisan. I can say this because I speak from experience. It really means a lot to us when our customers, clients, and friends, share their experiences and thoughts with us about Badger®.

Here is a small collection of those testimonials and messages that fall into some of the categories referred to above:
Read Sean Smith's full review here:Badger® Paddles Review -

We first were wowed by the great and lengthy review from The Fatpaddler. We felt really lucky to have made it onto ( author and paddling adventurer) Sean Smith's radar. As fans of Sean's, and followers of The Fatpaddler blog, we were really excited to see our paddles in the hands of someone "down-under" and a welcomed part of Fatpaddler's web-based chronicle. (Besides writing the popular blog, Sean also wrote a book depicting his near-death experiences, his struggle within the abyss of depression, and finding his way out again with the help of taking up paddling and the support of his new and loving family. It is inspirational and a "must read"!)
Read Sean Smith's full review here: Badger® Paddles Review -

But then... We were wowed again when we received this testimonial from Hap Wilson, artist, author, environmentalist, photographer and the Eco Trailbuilder, himself! Both Mike and I had read Hap's work and used his Temagami Guide book (the "bible" for canoe tripping in Temagami, ON) for years, and were in awe of his powerful history, his fascinating life and his impressive accomplishments.

"In this age of 'techno-gear' you don't often come across any hand-made products that really stand out. Badger Paddles is the exception. ... Every avid paddler needs a 'real' paddle, and I love my Badger" ~Hap Wilson

Read Hap Wilson's full testimonial here: Badger® Paddles Customer Testimonials

We were just this past week also given another surprise testimonial from Hap Wilson, this time by way of an illustration to be published in his new Trans Canada Trail Path of the Paddle Guidebook. One of the scenes decorating the iconic map for the Maukinak Trail actually depicts two Digger paddles! WOW!

Take a look here: Maukinak Trail Map ~ Hap Wilson - Eco Trailbuilders.

Also... Mike Wenholz sent us a testimonial message a while back, and it made us smile really big!

"I bought a Sliver in cherry, and really like the paddle.  It's the first otter tail-style paddle I have owned.  I have been learning to paddle the canadian stroke, knifing the paddle back through the water on the recovery, often keeping the paddle in the water the entire stroke.  This paddle has made learning this stroke much easier.

Also, while battling significant whitecaps that were coming from two directions (across the lake and down an angling bay) the length of the paddle made it possible for me to keep us headed in the right direction with speed by reaching out wide to steer us through the angling waves." ~Mike Wenholz

Read Mike's full testimonial here: Badger® Paddles Customer Testimonials

Scott's made us smile big too, we love when people feel the strength of our paddles:
“I've used the paddle on some trips. I must say I love it!
It's solid, sturdy and it produces power.
 I had little trouble fighting the current of the Vermilion River.” ~ Scott H.

We definitely felt a sense of pride when we read the following comments from Roger Parnis:

Photo credit: Roger Parnis
"Hi Fiona and Mike, I just got back from a 3 day trip to Little Trout Lake and I wanted to let you know how impressed I was with the paddle you made for me. The oil rub on the handle and shaft make it grip wet or dry. This was the most important feature to me. I found I had more power and control over the canoe than my previous paddle. The glossy finish on the blade looks great on my wall too! So it's the best piece of gear I've bought in a long time. Thank you." ~ Roger Parnis

But then there was the Angelina testimonial from Marcus:

"Had a new paddle arrive this week,a Badger Paddles Sliver. Shape wise it's an elongated ottertail,the timber is cherry. It's the Angelina Jolie of the paddle world,very long,very lean and totally sexy!! Using it is an absolute joy,very easy to move through the water,very slick it made underwater recovery very very easy.I was also surprised at the speed I managed from it." ~M. Grose

Marcus Grose's testimonial came at the same time that Angelina Jolie was in the news for sticking her leg out from under her highly split dress at the Oscars. There was even a Twitter account made for it called @AngiesRightLeg. So we couldn't help but laugh out loud when we read Marcus' comment regarding the association between the sexy Angela Jolie and our paddles! Right away the wacky thought of Angelina's famous right leg becoming a paddle came to mind. I (Fiona) sent Marcus the image (see the Angelina picture on left) for a laugh after receiving his email. I still smile when I think about that "very long, very lean and totally sexy" Badger paddle leg and the wonderful testimonial Marcus sent us. Thanks Marcus!!!
Read Marcus' full testimonial here: Badger® Paddles Customer Testimonials

Another great review came from Nige Ayers (founder of the Simply Canoe and C-wav) complete with pictures which can be read here: Badger Sliver In The U.K. Thanks again Nige!

But the one unexpected testimonial that made both of us (Mike and I) actually tear up was this message just recently received from Ian. He took note of all the things that matter most to Mike and I as paddlers, paddle-makers, and outdoor enthusiasts:

there's a lot of ideas about paddles out there -- i'm just advocating for things as i see 'em -- i notice little things, the subtle thickening of the shaft just before the blade, fine edges on the sides, stoutness still at the blade end, a well grained wood in a solid serviceable, not show-room-gloss finish, -- i see a lot of over-engineered laminate and composite paddles, or the clever and finely finished furniture grade pieces...i mean, they are nice, and i appreciate them for what they are -- but there is an elegant functional simplicity to (my) badger paddle that really works for me -- i wouldn't mind hanging it on my wall or snubbing off a rock in mild moving water mid-expedition. one the fantastic things about canoeing is the intersection between simplicity, aesthetic, and solid functionality and the badger paddle hits it dead centre...then factor in being able to banter 'bout paddle-stuff at a show with the paddle-maker...that's almost master-card priceless...” ~Ian Hanna

This hand painted ambigram paddle also came
with a laser engraved sparkly blue peace sign and
a personally written message to "Saffyr" from her Uncle's
own hand. This ambigram says "Saffyr" one way and
"Peace" when looked at from another angle.
Besides being one of Fiona's most favourite
commissions ever, it also led to a very cute
and personal video message that us Badgers will never forget!

But, truly, when all is said and done, one of our most favourite paddler portageur testimonials ever, came by way of a personal "surprise" video from Preston of* starring his sixteen year old paddling and portaging niece Saffyre (a.k.a. "Saffyr" - belonging to the next great generation of paddlers portageurs) whose thankful smile stole our hearts, made us laugh, made me (Fiona) shed a tear, and helped us become truly aware of how thankful we are for being able to connect with such wonderful people like "Saffyr Peace" and YOU!

So a heartfelt thank you to all of our paddling friends who have taken the time to write to us and tell us how much they genuinely dig their paddles. Everyone of you has impacted our lives and business in a way that we will be forever grateful for. Thank you. No really... THANK YOU!!!

Written by Fiona Westner-Ramsay

*Scroll to near the bottom of this blog posting (Christmas gift ideas) to read the short back story on this very special paddle for his very special paddling niece.