My Canoe Buddy (MyKa) - An Interview with Frederick J. Weber - Owner

  My Canoe Buddy (MyKa) - An Interview with Frederick J. Weber - Owner
by Driftless Area Mag with Frederick J. Weber
07/01/19 Driftless Area Magazine

show|hide ad

My Canoe Buddy (MyKa) - An Interview with Frederick J. Weber - Owner

Editor's Note: Every once in awhile, we here at the Driftless Area Magazine will cover personal interest stories that are “Just Outside” the Driftless Area, covered by a Driftless Area Writer. This is one of those stories. We met Fredrick at the Driftles Outdoors Show in Onalaska WI. His Canoe Buddy is used here in the Driftless!

About Us
"My Canoe Buddy"- Born of necessity to deliver independence!

As someone who truly enjoys the freedom and beauty of the outdoors, canoeing and paddling our lakes and rivers has always been an important part of my life.

While I have always transported a canoe strapped atop a vehicle, loading and unloading the unwieldy weight of my canoe was becoming more difficult. Avoiding damaging the vehicles expensive finish or the side mirror while loading or unloading was becoming a challenge. Often, besides the weight, wind became an enemy. At times, even with the help of a friend, loading my canoe was a struggle and sometimes comical sight. My vehicle’s roof wasn’t getting any higher, my canoe not any heavier. Instead, I was just a little bit older and more physically limited.

Not nearly ready to hang up the “ol’ paddle”, and with a background in mechanical design, I started fabricating and building prototypes for a tool that would make loading and unloading my canoe easier. I had three important criteria: minimize and re-distribute the canoe’s weight and balance, increase safety for myself and my vehicle, and to be portable to function both at home and in the field.

A few prototypes later along with extensive field testing, "My Canoe Buddy" was born. My new device met all my design criteria. "My Canoe Buddy" became a wonderful adaptive aid performing everything I expected to do.

Other people and friends who saw me using "My Canoe Buddy" often commented or asked, “Where did you get that?” and “I would like one of these too.” In May, 2014 I created Myka LLC to manufacture and sell the new "My Canoe Buddy" so that others, with similar circumstances of my own, could continue to pursue their own enjoyment of canoeing.

"My Canoe Buddy" offers you, whether male or female, young or old, an effective adaptive aid to single handedly easily and safely load or unload your canoe to help keep you on the water.

"My Canoe Buddy" is 100% made in the USA.

What’s your story? How long have you been here in the Driftless, Were you born in the Driftless, What keeps you here in the Driftless?

Born in Sheboygan, WI. Graduated from Sheboygan North High School, LTC Technical College-Degrees in Machine Tool and Electro-Mechanical Technology. Unfortunately, the only time I get to the area is business. I came to Driftless Area for the first time as a vendor for the La Crosse Sport Show in February 2017 and immediately loved the area. I was then invited to the inaugural Driftless Sports Convergence in Onalaska in 2018, returned in 2019 and hope to do so yearly. I hope to visit sometime casually in the future.

Tell us a little bit about what you do for My Canoe Buddy (MyKa)?

I formed Myka almost 5 years ago in November of 2014 and received the patent for “My Canoe Buddy” only 17 months ago. Along with being the Owner/President for Myka Canoe Loaders, I still do work a day job as a Maintenance Supervisor for a machine shop and wet/powder coat paint shop.

Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career with My Canoe Buddy (MyKa).

For Myka, it was certainly being awarded the patent.

We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell us about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.

I am continually involved with improving the process, whether it be the stages of manufacturing, logistics, packaging or shipping.

Tell us about some of the people you've met, that stand apart from the rest, while here at My Canoe Buddy (MyKa).

I have done several Sport Shows, canoeing and or paddling events and I seriously can’t remember a negative moment. The amount of support and encouragement I have received was at times flattering. From handshakes to hugs, my experiences within the entire paddling community has been an enjoyable and motivating experience. Sort of goes to show the outdoors is good for one’s soul.

Tell us about someone who has influenced your decisions for yourself or your business.

Beyond any doubt, Jim H. at the UWGB Small Business Development Center. In June of 2017 Myka was chosen as I believe 1 of 6 new business out of 13 Wisconsin counties for free business development guidance. It came totally out of the blue, so it was quite an honor. I have learned that I had a lot to learn. It really comes down to the detail at every stage.

What do you think will change about your business or business process over the next five years?

Hopefully growth. At this stage I sell my product online only and I’m not absolutely certain that isn’t such a bad thing, but for a small company such as myself who doesn’t have all the marketing capability, getting the word out about ones product no matter how well it responds is tough. Also, currently I outsource all the manufacturing. All made in the USA, all in Wisconsin. In the future I may want to move some of that in house.

What do you wish other people knew about you or My Canoe Buddy (MyKa)?

To me it’s not about a product, it’s about an idea. I really did develop the loader out of the need to load my own canoe independently. That I use the product. That the overall goal now has become to help anyone, young, old, male, female, to get and keep them on the water. It’s good for one’s mind and body. Healthy.

If you were to tell a friend to come and visit the Driftless Area, and they ask "Why" ... what would you tell them?

It’s a pleasant place. Great people, beautiful scenery, interesting with lots to do.

If you weren't here running your business, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

The near future personal goal for me, is to give up the day job and just run Myka. I need to do that. Also, I would love to spend more time with my grandchildren. They’re 5 and 8 and just getting started in paddling, fishing and really enjoying the outdoors. My children grew up camping and canoeing and still very much enjoy it as adults.

How do you develop yourself outside of your work environment? Personal development can take all shapes and sizes. It can be found in a hobby, a purposeful pursuit, or in an appetite to explore.

I read. I would be lost without a book. Right now, I’m reading “The Song of Ice and Fire” series. I never saw any part of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones”, but the book was fantastic and “set the hook” for the remainder. Also, for some real excitement…jig saw puzzles. I always have one started. There is also paddling of course, fishing (fish are usually safe) and Harley Davidson.

What might our readers be surprised to know about you?

Hopefully nothing. I’m just an average Joe. Maybe that I’m the entire company.

What are you most curious about in life?


What is the most courageous thing you have done in your life?

Either jumping solo out of an airplane skydiving or the first time I presented my loader to my peers and the general public at a show.

Visit Website HERE