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Origami Paddler is the brainchild of kayak industry veteran Tim Niemier, who’s mission in life is “to get a billion butts in boats, on a clean water environment.”  In the 1960’s, while living in southern California, Tim became fascinated with kayaking.  At 15 years old, he built his own stick frame and skin kayak, and would paddle with the whales for miles, along the California coast.  Tim recounts, “what were my parents thinking!?”

At the time, Tim had a problem with sit-inside-kayaks in the surf, and decided to take an old surfboard and turn it into a sit-on top-kayak.  This new concept could pass through the surf without filling up with water.  Tim would use this design for skin diving with great success.

In 1988, Tim founded Ocean Kayak and introduced the sit-on-top kayak to the world.  This completely changed the kayak industry, because now everyone could paddle in a safer kayak.  Ocean Kayak grew to a daily production rate of over 200 boats per day, before being acquired by Johnson Outdoors, Inc. in 1997.

Tim’s original concept for a folding hard body kayak was born in the early 2000’s, out of the need to place a kayak in a small airplane, to reach surf spots in an hour instead of having to drive all day.  Although, it quickly became apparent that this concept would also work for placing kayaks in cars, eliminating the need for expensive roof racks.  A three-piece roto molded design for a folding kayak would see limited production, however it never really took off.

Undeterred, Tim reimagined this concept as a folding kayak and paddleboard, all in one package.  The prototypes for this new concept were a success, and subsequently, a new venture, Origami Paddler, came into being.  In 2020, Tim launched Origami Paddler on Kickstarter, which resulted in one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, up to that point.

Origami Paddler went viral and saw soaring demand, almost overnight.  However, even in the best of times, starting a new business venture can be fraught with challenges.  As the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic dragged on, challenges that would have normally been mere speed bumps for a new company, turned lethal.  Factors such as skyrocketing material prices, supply chain disruptions, and logistics problems, made it commercially unviable for Origami Paddler to meet its current commitments to suppliers and customers.  In July of 2022, after selling nearly 30,000 boats, Origami Paddler was forced into receivership.

In the months that followed, several proposals were floated to reorganize the company.  Unfortunately, they all came to nothing.  Just when it seemed that Origami’s remaining assets were destined for the auction block, one it its creditors stepped up with a proposal to purchase Origami Paddler and see it relaunched as a new company.  On December 20, 2023, The Whatcom County Superior Court, in the State of Washington, approved their proposal.

Origami Paddler’s assets were subsequently transferred to its current owners, whose primary goal is to rehabilitate the brand and see it relaunched into the marketplace.  The new ownership’s first action was to reopen Origami Paddler’s online store, so that current Origami Paddler owners could once again acquire parts and accessories for their Paddlers.  The hope is that larger scale production of new Paddlers will start in the near future, and that the new Origami Paddler will be able to continue Tim’s mission “to get a billion butts in boats.”