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The Start of Something Great

Having a passion for the outdoors was always part of my genetics. To say it was bred into me would be an understatement. My father and his father were both passionate outdoorsmen. Being taught early how to canoe, camp, and fish, I grew up with the love of nature running through my very soul. I still remember being roughly 6 years old, watching my father catch salmon on the Ocqueoc river in northeastern Michigan, seeing those mighty game fish battle magnificently with their massive surges as the drag screamed for mercy on the Zebco 303. Then, from river to table, I can almost taste the salmon patties my grandmother would serve as we all partook in the feast.

As I got older and the pressures of everyday adulting stacked up, I continually asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a desk jockey working the typical 8-6 job behind the computer screen, I felt an overwhelming conviction that I was meant for something else. I put out a few feelers and started the process to start something new.

Renting a small retail space inside what was then known as the Moxie Marine facility, in 2013 I started a rental business called White Lake Excursions. We rented kayaks, bikes and paddle boards. Within that very season, the requests mounted as customers continually asked if we were selling those very items.
Transitioning from a rental establishment to a retail store, in 2015 we changed our name to WaterDog Outfitters (WaterDog, a nickname my grandmother used to give me as she found it impossible to pull me out of the river). Quickly becoming White Lakes premier paddle sports shops, we also decided to assist the two-wheeled customer base that toured the Hart/Montague trail and hired a bike mechanic and added bike sales and service.
2018 became the year WaterDog Outfitters founded the Michigan Kayak Trail, a premium kayak bass fishing league that sported some of the state's best bass fishermen and women. We sponsored our first kayak fishing event and my passion for kayaking and fishing were reunited!!
WaterDog landscape
2019 new plot
2021 building started
2022 new building
Late 2019 we started searching high and low for either a new facility or a piece of land that would allow us easy access to the water and bike trail, similar to what we currently were using. Our relationship with the Chamber Of Commerce paid off once again and they pointed us in the direction, just across the street. After long discussion and many meetings with the City Of Whitehall, we agreed on a purchase price for a nice 1 acre piece of land connected to the downtown district. Weeks following the signing of the building, Covid took over the country and halted our building plans.
Still in our original location, 2021 brought many challenges including inventory shortages and personnel struggles I’ll do too COVID-19. Fortunately for us, we had a loyal crew and executed a beautiful strategy to get through the season. Still sitting on a piece of property that we purchased a year prior, we were yet able to start building our new facility until September of that year.
Our building project that is now two years in the making was wrapped up and we received occupancy a week before memorial weekend. We closed down and moved our entire retail space to our new facility in four days. We did not lose a weekends Worth of business and we are extremely excited to finally be in our new facility. We are now Whitehall residence! 115 West Hanson St.

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