Updated: 03/25/2014 11:17 AM
Created: 03/24/2014 5:25 PM KSTP.com
By: Jason Davis
Mike Chichanowski was born and raised on the bank of the Minnesota River near Winona, Minn. You could say he was reared with a paddle in his hands.
From a very early age, Mike started fixing boats and making his own canoes.
He was so good at it that his friends asked him to make one for them too, and it just mushroomed from there.
By the time he was in high school, Mike already had a thriving part-time business. He was still in college when he built his first manufacturing plant!
Today, Mike and his family are proud owners of one of the largest kayak and canoe producers in the country.
Not just inexpensive plastic boats you can buy for a couple of hundred dollars, but beautifully crafted high-end canoes and kayaks that have become well known for their innovation and quality.
This year they will probably ship 12,000 boats from the busy plants that are still located in his hometown of Winona. Many of the top-end products are made of Kevlar, a material so tough it's used to make bullet-proof vests.
But the boat that's getting a lot of attention this year is a fishing canoe that sports adjustable outriggers to make it stable enough to stand up and cast.