Nearly a quarter century ago, Minnesota canoe enthusiasts Dale Kicker and Ron Hultman were vexed by how canoe paddles often cracked on the ends when they hit rocks. Those dings in the exterior varnish, they knew all too well, led to water damage and deterioration in the paddles.

So the the pair – Kick a whitewater and touring canoeist and Hultman a flat-water racer – created the first composite-tipped paddles. That innovation caught on, vastly improved the longevity of paddles and gave birth to their Osceola-based company. Read the full story here.