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Astral

    2002: Astral founded by Philip Curry on April 16th, the day after his non-compete agreement with Patagonia ends.  4 months later Curry introduces the following unique concepts to the Paddlesports market:  hybrid inflatable PFD, PFDs made with Kapok, PFDs with PVC- alternative Gaia foam, PFDs with Z-strap adjustment &  hydration compatible PFDs. Market scratches its head. NOC and NRS place orders. Curry and his crew including Craig, Jose, and Mason enter a cabin to figure out how to make all that stuff.  They don’t come out until Spring 2003.

    2003:  Astral moves to back corner of Stahlsac factory in Weaverville, NC. Curry hires his buddy Mark Mickey to serve customers.  Ship first order of Aquavest 200 late summer.  Move office to 5th floor warehouse by the river.  Curry hires Tracey Haswell (bookkeeper), Scott Albright (product developer), Joyce Hensley (pattern maker) and Linda Mckee (sample maker).  Kelly Fischer starts as 1st sales rep in Mid-Atlantic, and Jeff Trauba shortly after for the West Coast. Curry hires Tracey Clapp to handle sales.

    2004: Shipping full range of PFDs for paddling. Jared Curtioff joins Astral as shipping manager.  Rion Smith starts repping southeast. Curry swims on the Green. Hurricanes Irene and Frances hit Asheville area causing massive floods. Arlo Rocket is born.

     2005: Astral introduces the use of kapok in its PFDs, modernizing the use of buoyant plant material. Yonton Mehler joins Astral late in year, replacing Clapp who took a job with Werner Paddles. Astral athletes Daniel Delavergne, Tommy Hilleke, John Grace, and Toby MacDermott run the Grand Canyon of the Stikine in 9hrs 50 mins. Tylor McConkey starts making patterns.

    2006: Astral introduces the Foam Tectonic platform with the Newton. Kris Northern joins the Astral graphics design team. Astral wins ‘Accessory Manufacturer of the Year’ award at Outdoor Retailer. LDB recreational life vest hits the market. Reglan Brewer moves to Asheville from France. Mickey gets throat cancer. Mehler takes 8th at World Cup freestyle comp.

    2007: Astral announces USCG approval on the Hybrid after years of seeking approval. Jared builds custom whamola bass guitar. Mickey whoops cancer. Bryan Owen starts in Astral Customer Service after moving from Colorado. Astral hires Chuck Joy as New England Sales Rep.  Lotus Designs brand is discontinued. Albright moves out west, so we have a party for him and he gets kissed by the entire production crew.

    2008: Astral brings to market the world’s first breathable PFD, the V-Eight featuring Airescape Technology. Astral introduces the Greenjacket, Willis, and Bella.  Astral moves HQ to old tobacco barn at corner of Riverside and Broadway, where ‘Main Street’ meets the river, the move is both practical and symbolic. ‘Gimmie that Donut’ contest makes its Gauley Fest debut at Astral Booth. Chris Gragtmans gets First D on Desoto Falls, AL. Astral staff completes SWR training with Justin Padgett of Landmark Learning.

    2009: Sarah Hege starts as full time office administrator. Astral starts successful Limited Edition program with the Rasta design. Astral ships first Astropad dog bed made from foam and fabric scraps.  Astral opens Product Development Center in Saigon, Vietnam and Curry & family move there to oversee. Mehler promoted to GM at age 26. Owen becomes Astral brand manager and immediately begins typing our brand in all caps.

    2010: Astral adds 2nd breathable PFD (the Camino) bringing Airescape technology to a wider audience, and coins ‘ThinVent’ technology with the Nova. Owen, Mehler, former CO sales rep Brent Toepper, Team paddler Jakub Nemec, and future Astral R&D member Daniel Windham run the Black Canyon of the Gunnison after the OR show. Astral creates BirdDog K-9 PFD. Curry swims in Idaho. Astral receives ‘Buncombe Green Award’ at Asheville City Hall for sustainable business practices. Astral hires Margie Matthai in November. Adam Bixby steps in as interim shipper.

    2011: Astral runs limited edition version of the Aquavest 300. Astral hires industry vets Spencer Cooke and Chris Summa as SE Sales Reps and Mike McKee in Rockies. Two Astral newborns meet for the first time: Kirby Newsome Rogers and Ava Pearl Owen. Ocey becomes master of shipping and receiving after many years of production work. Astral takes first ever ‘staff raft trip’ with US production staff.  Matthai weds raft guide Jon Cox after 7 years of dating. Curry starts to wear shoes again.

    April 2012: Astral brings to market the Linda and Ronny, named in honor of our USA production manager Linda McKee. Introduce Sea Wolf to USA market. Windham joins Astral R&D team in SE Asia.  Astral celebrates 10 year anniversary on 4/16/12.