MINEVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Essex Industries is an integrated workplace in the Adirondack Park that has worked for five decades to offer employment opportunities for people of all abilities and skillsets. The business was actually the start of Mountain Lake Services, Essex County’s largest employer with over 700 employees serving more than 500 people in every corner of the North Country. There, individuals with disabilities work together with skilled craftsmen to create high-end canoe accessories- and soon, they’ll be able to create full-sized boats.

Essex Industries Executive Director John Gereau speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Adirondack Canoe Shop.

On Friday, April 8, Essex Industries cut the ribbon on their brand new, state-of-the-art “Adirondack Canoe” shop. For Director John Gereau, the new business is a dream come true. “I am a native Adirondacker and avid backcountry pond fisherman with decades of experience paddling, so I know a few things about what makes a great boat on the water,” Gereau said.

The ultra-lightweight, composite canoes that are now being manufactured at the Adirondack Canoe Company are comparable to some of the most durable and functional on the water today. What makes them different, said Gereau, is the smiling faces behind their production. They are “made with love, by a workforce that takes more pride in what they accomplish than anyone.”

A brand new headquarters was unveiled on April 8 that will allow Essex Industries employees to gain new canoe-crafting skills and use heavy machinery with special upgrades that ensure their safety. In his welcoming remarks, Jack M. Mudge, Executive Director for Mountain Lake Services, said that’s the goal of Essex Industries in a nutshell- to create a workplace where everyone is welcome, and where some of the most high-quality products in the North Country can be created for all to cherish.

Chad Smith, the master craftsman at the Adirondack Canoe Company, has a long history in the canoe-building business. He said canoe building has been a long-standing tradition in the North Country, and that the new Adirondack Canoe Company shop allows Essex Industries employees to start from the basics. “We start at the ground of waxing and learn to take care of the molds first,” Smith said.

The Adirondack Canoe Company will feature four different types of canoes:

A smaller-style canoe is displayed inside the new Adirondack Canoe Shop facility.
  • The Tamarack
    • A tandem canoe, designed to be paddled single blade by two paddlers. The Tamarack is 16 feet in length and weighs just 45 pounds, but is big enough to take the kids and the dogs out for a weekend on the North Country’s beautiful back ponds, or your favorite paddling destination.
  • The Boreas
    • Named after the river that flows near Newcomb, New York, the Boreas is a 14-foot canoe that weighs under 27 pounds. The watercraft can be built with high sides and a traditional webbed seat for single-stick paddling, or with trimmed sidewalls and a pack canoe-styled seat for double-blade paddling. The choice is yours!
  • The Skylight
    • The first hull designed after the Adirondack Canoe Company’s founding, the Skylight is a pack-style canoe with a streamlined hull shape and the secondary stability found in many pack-style boats. The Skylight can easily be carried on hiking trips, weighing just 20 pounds.
  • The Haystack
    • Based on the John Henry Rushton design Wee Lassie, the Haystack is built for backcountry fishermen. Featuring a narrower beam than most, Adirondack Canoe Company took this North Country classic and allowed for a more streamlined hull. Crafted for the Adirondack culture of brook trout fishing, the design is light enough to carry wherever you go- weighing in at 19 pounds.

The canoes range from $1,500 to $2,500 and are now in production. In the words of Director Gereau, these products could easily go up against any in the industry- one look at the beaming faces of an Essex Industries employee, and you’ll know just how much they care about their craft.

Essex Industries is located at 17 Pilfershire Road, in Mineville. To order your canoe, or just reach out for employment opportunities and more, check out Essex Industries’ website.