In a world driven by overly corporatized faceless bureaucracies chasing cash flows and taking huge steps away from their roots to capitalize on a vulnerable market it seems rare that we stumble across a company who, despite enormous growth, remembers their grassroots beginnings and proudly puts a face with their name.
Concept2 arguably has been and continues to be one of, if not the, most cutting edge leaders in the design of rowing machines and oars in the arenas of recreational and competitive rowing. You would be incredibly hard pressed to find a member of the worldwide rowing community who hasn't rowed with or on a concept2 rowing machine or set of oars. Granted they are not the only option out there in terms of rowing machines and oars, others exist, such as Waterower, Kettler, Lifespan, Crocker, and Stamina to name a few. However, comparatively all of these brands are largely unrecognized/unheard of in the rowing community and rarely have they ever been considered an even remotely close to alternative to the standards of precision, quality, and durability that Concept2 holds it's products to.
Given their dominance on the world, collegiate, junior and masters rowing stages it would be easy for a company which was founded by two men in a barn to forget their homegrown grassroots and become an money driven legal entity. This is not at all the case.
After showing up unannounced and uninvited, my family and I were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by multiple members of the Concept2 staff and despite being in the middle of a regular work day we were very graciously given a tour by a longtime employee, Will, who was at-once supremely humble and incredibly knowledgable about the companies history, production process and success over the years. Every employee we met along the way was happy to explain the various parts of the composite oar making process, demonstrate the various pieces, and to answer any questions we had.
I can't remember the last time we were warmly welcomed and found a business of any kind and size to be so hospitable and true to their roots as we found Concept2. Finding ourselves in the middle of a passionate and driven company with such passionate and welcoming employees served as a wonderfully warm reminder of why the rowing community is such a great community to have the privilege of being apart of.
Thank you to everyone we met while there, especially Will and Meredith.
Put your SWAG on.