What It Means to Be a “Build to Order” Company

Here at Bending Branches we were already 20 years into our history when we switched from our previous “build to inventory” manufacturing process to our current “build to order” process.

several Bending Branches paddles on a display at an expo

What Is a “Build to Order” Company?

Build to order is a simple as it sounds: Products are built after the order is placed, not before. It’s a key component of lean manufacturing. There are several advantages for us in using this type of manufacturing process:

  1. We can focus on crafting beautiful and well-made paddles. Because we make so many different types of paddles, some involving a high amount of hands-on care and skill, we know each paddle we turn out meets our quality standards.
  2. We reduce production waste when we only build what our customers order.
  3. We reduce waste in inventory, raw materials and components because we have an up-to-date reading of product demand by our customers.
  4. We stay flexible in our manufacturing, passing on the savings to our customers.
  5. We continually lean forward into product innovation, since we aren’t focused on moving stored inventory.

sanding a wood canoe paddle

Our build to order process enables us to craft each paddle with care

During these past months with the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen demand for our paddles increase exponentially as more people recognize the benefits of outdoor pursuits. At the same time we’re experiencing the supply chain disruptions of the global economy. These two have combined to create a challenging situation for a build to order company like ours!

We’ve done our best to keep up with these challenges by hiring more people and by streamlining our manufacturing process where we can, increasing our capacity. While not always the easiest options, we believe these changes will make our company healthier in the long run.

We’re thankful that our customers—both retailers and individuals—have been extremely  understanding through this season.

canoe paddles hang to dry

Canoe paddles hanging to dry after their varnish treatment

What Does Bending Branches’ Build to Order Process Look Like?

If you were to tour our shop here’s what you’d see:

Shipping Area

Our Shipping area is for the products that have been finished and are ready to ship out to our customers. Because we’re a build to order company, we don’t need space to store completed inventory.

Composite Line

Our Composite Line is where we build our kayak paddle line from Whisper to Angler Pro. We have specific areas for our most popular paddles as well as those that demand the most time and care, our carbon and Angler Pro Fiberglass paddles.

For our economy and mid-range paddles, some of our components are shipped in and we assemble each model by hand to complete them. For our high-end paddles, we have another area dedicated to hand-rolling layers of carbon fiber for the carbon shafts of both canoe and kayak paddles, and preparing them for the ferrule systems and blades.

working with rolls of carbon fiber

Preparing sheets of carbon fiber for rolling into paddle shafts

The compression-molded fiberglass blades for our Angler Pro Fiberglass paddles are handmade in the kayak section. This is an intensive process that demands a high attention to detail and that turns out a really cool finished product!

copperhead kayak blade form

A finished handmade blade for an Angler Pro Fiberglass kayak fishing paddle

Wood Line

The Wood Line is where we handcraft each wood canoe paddle, our all-wood kayak paddle and the blades of our carbon-shaft wood kayak paddles.

The several stations in this area include:

  • Glueing the wood block patterns for the various blade designs along with the shaft and grip, then roughly shaping the blade.
  • Applying our patented Rockgard® edge protection to the blade tips and edges, depending on the specific model.
  • Sanding and refining the shape of each blade and grip.
  • Laying on two to four layers of fiberglass by hand on each blade, depending on the model.
  • Hand-dipping each paddle or blade into our propriety varnish several times.

viper canoe paddles ready for next steps

Viper canoe paddles ready for the next step

Because we’re a build to order company we can make the most efficient use of our space, our time and our budget. At the same time we can make sure each paddle is built to the high quality standard our customers have come to expect.

Let us help you find your next canoe or kayak fishing paddle! Get in touch with our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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