Unlock YOUR freedom
Young or old, abled or less abled, large or small, we know SUP is for everyone. Let us help you find the right board for you, unlock YOUR freedom.
Jen and Andy are Environmental/coastal scientists by education, and ethics and sustainability are at the heart of McConks.
The right board, for the right person, and the right environment. Made to last with a five year guarantee.
WHO ARE MCCONKS?
The McConks story
When we set McConks up back in 2015, we wanted to be different. We wanted to keep things simple, make premium quality gear sold direct to customers. We’d seen the windsurfing market fail because brands and retailers made buying too difficult and too expensive. And paddleboarding was already going the same way. We really felt that brands and retailers were laughing at customers with their price points. And from talking to the people we met on beaches and at breaks, on river and in lakes, it became clear that we weren’t the only ones who no longer felt a connection with the big brands. The traditional methods of manufacturer to distributor to retailer to end-user puts distance between the brand and their customers, and increases prices. And we also didn’t like their approach to ethics and sustainability, whether the lack of consideration of, or the blatant lying. There was, and still is, lots of very dodgy marketing out there. Which in many cases extends to outright lies about how many trees they’ve planted, or how much money they’ve given to charity, or bragging about being Number 1 UK seller, when they’re anything but. And like lots of regular paddlers, we felt that the big brands focus on pretty and fit people, and this doesn’t represent the majority of paddlers.
So we designed a new business model that would break down the old-school way of doing things.
We wanted to work with our customers, understand what they need, and make those products. And by only selling stuff that ‘normal’ people need, rather than spending lots of money to persuade people that they need stuff, we’re also doing our bit to reduce the impact on the environment.
We design all of our products in house in the Cotswolds. We choose exactly which parts we want to put on our kit, down to the smallest of details. For example, we choose which high pressure SUP valve to use, which paddle clasps have the greatest strength, which fins give the best balance between resilience, ease of use and performance, what glues and polymers give the best hold, longevity and UV resilience, and much more. So our boards and paddles use the same or better materials than the likes of Red Paddle Co, Starboard for example.
And unlike most direct to customer SUP brands, or brands that sell exclusively on eBay or Amazon, we don’t accept off the shelf products of variable quality and slap our brand logo and colours on them. We design from the bottom up, to provide the best shape for the environment the board is aimed at.
To date, no-one is successfully manufacturing inflatable paddleboards outside of South East Asia, and as of 2023, every single inflatable SUP in the world was made in China. In due course we would really love to bring the manufacturing in house in the Cotswolds, but for now, we use our strong relationships with overseas suppliers to deliver the best products with the best materials and the best spec. And all this at the lowest cost to the customer, the environment and with the highest worker welfare standards we can secure.
So our small team is responsible for design, manufacturing and quality control, logistics, order fulfilment and customer service. With such a tight relationship between design, manufacture, retail and customer service, our customer’s feedback goes straight in to the next batch of boards. And because the team is so focused, our pricing is surprisingly good when compared to boards of similar spec. Everyone expects small, niche companies with top quality products to have the highest prices. But we’ve demonstrated that this doesn’t have to be the case, just a few years later, our products have won plaudits and awards from instructors, coaches, guides, magazines, and customers alike, for design, function, quality and value.
We’ve been put up against the big boys who’ve been in the game a lot longer than we have, and who have much deeper pockets and yet we’re holding our own. We may not sell the most boards, we won’t make the most money or have the biggest turnover, we won’t win the most competitions, we won’t have the youngest and prettiest models modelling our kit. But that’s OK, because we will have the best reviews from real people, the most satisfied customers and have made lots more friends.
We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. But we’re still learning and we’re still the little guy. Of course, we want to grow and we want to be bigger and better than we are. But we want to always keep the little guy feel and principles. Only by doing so can we keep close to our customers.
Join us on our journey. If you’ve got ideas about how we can improve, let us know!
You can find our more about setting up a stand up paddle boarding business by hitting the following link –