In 2005, Mike and Jenny Mudd discovered the sport of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) while on vacation in Maui, Hawaii. They immediately took to it and couldn’t wait to try it in Central Oregon. Once home, they paddled the local rivers and lakes, and even the Oregon Coast. Five years later, they opened the Stand on Liquid board shop in Bend. After four years of selling boards and accessories, they took on a partner: Mike’s college friend Rob McDonald.
Stand up paddle boarding originated in Hawaii as an alternative to surfing. While it is similar to surfing, the boards are much lighter and require the use of a paddle. Because you can paddle on waveless rivers and lakes, the learning curve is much shorter for the new sport. Over the last 10 years, SUP has become one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and especially Bend.
“The learning curve is very quick,” says McDonald, who also began paddling in Hawaii. “It is a beautiful sport and a good workout. You feel a greater connection with the water, as opposed to canoeing or kayaking.”
McDonald also works for Apple, Inc. in Northern California, but was interested in finding a career that would allow him to live and work in Bend. When the Mudds discussed the possibility of bringing him on as partner, he was very intrigued by the offer.
“I believe in Stand on Liquid,” says McDonald. “We have a good business model and a strong brand. And, paddle boards are beginning to outnumber kayaks on the Deschutes River.”
Stand on Liquid sells more than 20 different boards in different sizes and shapes. Through their unique business model, they sell both their brand and other brands as well. In addition to boards and paddles, they also sell accessories designed to make the most out of your paddle board experience. Their Reed Market storefront is stocked with SUP
clothing, sunglasses and personal floatation devices. They also rent equipment from their shop.
While business is good in Central Oregon, they also sell all over the world through their website. In an effort to expand their brand and global reach, Stand on Liquid has advertised in SUP Magazine and has a business relationship with the Hotel Cinco in Punta Mita, Mexico. Closer to home, Stand on Liquid has co-sponsored events, such as the Gerry Lopez SUP Race Series at Elk Lake.
“We are trying to build strong relationships with dealers and friends who are into the sport,” says McDonald. “Customer service is critical, as is trust.”
To make sure they stay competitive, Stand on Liquid is both expanding their selection and streamlining their manufacturing process. They have added a thermoforming process for lighter boards, but due to the scaled back production cost, are able to keep their prices low. Coming soon to their selection are new inflatable boards and boards specifically shaped for surfing.
“In addition to our great customer service and quality products at lower prices than our competitors, we truly believe we have the largest selection on the west coast; over 60 board brands and accessories,” explains McDonald.
McDonald is excited about the future of the sport, as well as the business. The new waves at the Colorado Dam Safe Passage Project will only add to the sport’s popularity once opened in the fall of this year. The project will replace the Colorado Dam with three channels, including a surf park designed for kayakers and SUP boarders.
Stand on Liquid
1320 SE Reed Market Rd, Bend, OR 97701
Owners: Mike and Jenny Mudd, Rob McDonald
No. Employees: 8
Year Established: 2010
Product/Service: manufactures 20 different models of standup paddleboards, and distributes an additional 50+ board brands and accessories.
Hot News: Apple Inc. executive Rob McDonald recently joined ownership team. Diversifying and scaling manufacturing processes have allowed company to innovate without raising prices. New designs include boards for surf, racing, and yoga.
Outlook for Growth: strong opportunities to increase exports ex-US with a particular focus on Mexico and Canada; increasing brand awareness in the Mideast, Northeast and the Gulf Coast.