Kona moves into historic building on the Göta Canal!

As Kona Sports moves into a historic building in the center of town in Motala, creative director & founder Joachim Larsson reflects on his hometown’s rich history and how the Kona spirit is helping him see a bright future ahead. Read on!

As I stroll by our new office today, I remember the first time I walked by this storied building on my way to see the boats on the canal as a kid, an ice-cream in hand. What an incredible opportunity we have now to showcase our brand!

Joachim Larsson

Motala, Sweden

Story: Joachim Larsson | Photos/Illustrations: Johan Christian Berger, Kona Sports, CMT, Göta Historic, Billeson, Louie, Vätternrundan

Hello friends, I hope all of you are staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic! I can’t wait to get back together with all of you when the virus outbreak has finally been properly contained, but for now all of us at Kona headquarters are staying put with our families, working remotely, reminiscing about the good times and helping our local communities as best we can.

We’re also looking forward to making full use of the historic building we just moved into this winter! It’s the original headquarters of Göta kanalbolag, the company that build the Göta canal 200 years ago. If you’re not familiar with the canal, it’s truly a feat of engineering – a masterful construction project that kicked off in 1810, took 22 years to link up the North Sea to the Baltic, and ushered in Sweden’s modern industrial development.

The whole project started in Motala, the place I’ve called home since I moved here with my family when I was 6 years old. Despite its illustrious past, it’s still a relatively small town today, with about 30,000 residents year-round but quite an influx of tourists in the summertime. Many of those tourists book cruises to travel the length of the Göta canal and disembark in Motala to enjoy Lake Vättern, one of the largest and most pristine lakes in all of Europe. Every summer, the area also attracts the best cyclists in the world (and 30,000 more recreational cyclists!) for the Vätternrundan, an amazing race around the 300 km perimeter of the lake that starts and ends in Motala.

This is where I learned to windsurf when I was a kid. The water is so clean that we drink it straight up, even to this day! It’s big enough that there’s plenty of room for the breeze to build, and it never freezes over. For those of you who’ve been with us for a long time, you will recall that this is where we hosted the 2009 Kona Worlds, and we experienced everything from 4 to 40 knots in the span of a week!

I’ve been lucky enough to make a living here building up a successful industrial services company, but I knew early on that windsurfing was going to be a big part of my life, and developing the Kona brand gave me that opportunity. With Kona, I also feel that we’re connecting the dots between windsurfing, SUP, biking and cross-country skiing. Each one of these sports is a perfect cross-training activity for the others, and that allows us to remain active year-round! I’m chuffed to see where we stand today, and I know that our best years are yet to come.

Which brings me back to our new head offices. With that move, we finally have enough space for design and development, showrooms, storage, offices and back office operations. We also have direct access to the canal right by the front door to test our ideas fresh off the drawing board and to showcase our innovative products to the general public in the heart of a vibrant outdoors community. We’re already plotting to host another major windsurfing regatta on the lake, and paddle the whole length of the 190 km canal at some point in the near future!

I feel there’s something quite symbolic about our new location. The Göta canal was built as a bridge across two oceans, and that’s the way I’ve seen Kona from day one: as a bridge across the many oceans that usually separate us watersports enthusiasts. With all due humility of course, I think that the strength of our brand comes from its ability to bring people together. I hope many of you feel the same way! The Kona spirit is strong, and social distancing is no match for it.

As I stroll by our new offices today, I remember the first time I walked by this storied building on my way to see the boats on the canal as a kid, an ice-cream in hand. I’m proud of the journey we’ve been on together, and I can’t wait to see you all once this terrible outbreak is over. In the meantime, know that we’re open for business and ready to support you online as we weather the current storm together. Stay safe and see you real soon.

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