COVID-19 Update From Alpacka Raft
A response to the packrafting community about how we’re handling the pandemic.
Dear Packrafting Community,
If you had asked me a few months ago what message I would be giving to the packrafting community in mid-March, I would have said that I was looking forward to a busy shop of 35 hardworking craftsmen and women making packrafts for a new season. I’d be excited for adventures in the backcountry, seeing photos of desert canyons, spring runoff, and the Brooks Range in June, and accompanying my wife Sarah and our infant son, Waylon, on his first Alaska packrafting trip. Instead, I am adding one more email to your inbox in what must seem like an interminable stream of announcements regarding COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking over our communities around the world at an exponential rate. In this moment, the safety of our employees, the packrafting community, and all of society is our most essential responsibility. However, we also owe our 35 employees our best effort to keep them financially afloat through this crisis. Like many other businesses, balancing these two obligations may be the biggest challenge we ever face.
To that end, Alpacka Raft has temporarily closed for the week of March 16, to allow time to develop and implement new procedures. When we restart operations, we will do so on a staggered schedule with increased spacing and new protocols for sanitation to minimize potential viral exposure between employees. We have also advised employees on practicing social distancing and minimizing potential viral exposure outside the workplace. And, we have closed our showroom and factory to the public and all non-employees until further notice. Due to decreased order volume, all Alpacka Raft employees will be taking a reduction in pay to allow us to continue operations, and to keep our staff employed for the longest possible time. By taking these steps, we will be able to provide employee pay during closures and when they need to be out sick.
We fully understand that a packraft is not going to be high on everyone’s list of purchases right now. But for those customers with the means to purchase, we are deeply thankful for every order and will work as fast, and as safely as possible, to get your order built and shipped. Your patience and support will help our employees and their families remain safe and financially afloat during these challenging times. We apologize in advance for the inevitable delays on customer service requests and orders, as we navigate this challenging time. In addition, we will not be able to process refunds (we are happy to process exchanges) or new service/repair orders for now. Thank-you for your patience and understanding on this.
Finally, we have a few requests to the packrafting community until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. First, while packrafting is a great way to enjoy social distancing, please remember to pursue mellower adventures closer to home. This will help to reduce the spread of the virus by travel and to avoid putting unnecessary pressures on emergency services and other resources, especially in smaller towns. Second, please follow all recommended precautions provided by the CDC and your local and state health authorities for your daily lives—even if you are not in a high-risk category. In fact, please strive to do better than those precautions.
These are indeed challenging times, but they are also an opportunity to work together to develop a stronger society. Alpacka Raft is prepared to weather this challenge and we wish you all safety and good health. We look forward to seeing you on the river soon!
CEO & Co-Owner, Aplacka Raft