When we launched Key Log Rolling® in 2011, we were confident about two things: 1) the historic sport had the right stuff to become a nationally and internationally-recognized Olympic sport, and 2) the main thing holding the sport back back was “the log, stupid”. Heavy red cedar logs were/are difficult to source, challenging to move, and expensive to transport. Due to agricultural restrictions, it’s almost impossible to ship raw logs across national borders. It was clear that the world needed a lightweight, synthetic log but the world didn’t know it yet. It also needed log rolling instructors — there were, at most, a few dozen people actively teaching and coaching the water sport.
Identifying the best market to introduce the Key Log® into took some solid evaluation. We knew the existing log rolling community was limited due to the small number of active rollers. So who would want to buy a lightweight synthetic log, to learn a 100-year-old sport with a reputation for being difficult to do (it's not!) and a stereotype that all log rollers are descendants of Paul Bunyan (we're not!)?
Seth Werner, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, helped answer that question when he proposed that our start-up company participate in one of his MBA courses. An entire class of grad students used the Key Log as a semester long case study, even before we had manufactured the first Key Log.
The information the MBA students gathered was invaluable. Through market surveys, conversations with potential buyers, and hours of discussion with our team, we realized that log rolling was not ready for prime-time in the consumer retail market, but recreational institutions and facilities were ready to roll! Camps, colleges and community park and recreation programs are always on the look out for new programming options, with the added advantage of built-in staff members ready to teach, given the right tools.
We became laser-focused on creating the tools for establishing the sport in places that would not just buy a Key Log but create programming to teach others. The Key Log Rolling® instructional manuals and videos have enabled staff members, in disparate parts of the US and Canada, to successfully launch programming. Our “Learn and Lead Workshops” offer an extra dose of confidence to staff members.
For almost 125 years, a sport born of 19th century loggers’ occupations, has been regionally-based in the northern reaches. By the turn of the 21st century, it was only practiced by a small but loyal group of enthusiasts, based mainly in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Today, with four hundred (400) new programs and counting, Key Log Rolling is quite literally on a roll. People from all regions of North America (and a few places in Europe!) are learning and loving the exciting historical sport that had all but died out. We have a long way to go but, today more than ever, we believe our Olympic vision can be achieved.
Want to 'get rolling'? Contact Abby Hoeschler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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While you are busy with the work that keeps camp on-track for success, do you ever wonder what those fun loving counselors are doing during the off-season? We encourage you to email your college staff and urge them to learn how to log roll before camp starts next summer. This winter's college log roller can be next summer's champion of log rolling at camp for a fun, safe and innovative new activity for your campers.
Generous supporters and donors of your camp may be interested in funding a new program activity, such as log rolling. We've come up with a few ideas on why and how to propose the concept of a log rolling program donation to your donors!