A company that makes handcrafted canoes has set up shop in downtown Rock Island, near the banks of the Mississippi River.
Bruce and Sue Peterson, of Rock Island, bought Navarro Canoe Co. in Minnesota last fall and relocated it to a former motorcycle shop at 2219 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
Mr. Peterson, former CEO of Rochelle Community Hospital in Rochelle, said he stumbled on Navarro Canoe when he was searching for a job opportunity that would allow him and his wife to live in the Quad-Cities full-time.
At the time, they were living in Aledo, but also had a residence in Rochelle.
Mr. Peterson said he hopes eventually to put in a storefront, but for now, he and employee Stephen Smith, of Bettendorf, build canoes there full-time, with Mrs. Peterson and two others helping out sometimes.
Mr. Smith said his favorite part of the business is "going from nothing to all of a sudden having a finished product" when a canoe is created.
Each canoe is built inside a mold. "You build them from the outside in," Ms. Peterson said.
The hull of the made-to-order boats can be resin, Fiberglas, Kevlar or a combination of the two, depending on what the customer wants.
All have wooden ribs and other wood features. The seats are hand-laced nylon with wood frames.
"Right now, we put 100 hours (of labor) into a boat," Mr. Peterson said. "We're hoping to become more efficient in the process."
He said Navarro canoes have a level of craftsmanship a lot of other canoes don't, in performance and visual appeal.
The canoes cost $2,900 to $3,500, and range in length from 13 to 17 feet. They can be shipped anywhere in the continental United States.
Mr. Peterson said Navarro, started 40 to 50 years ago in California, is named after the Navarro River, near where the company launched.
He said although he's never had his own business before, he's not new to running businesses. "I've run hospitals for someone else for a long time."
When he thought about owning his own business, Mr. Peterson said he didn't think canoes. "I didn't see this one as the one. In fact, I never thought about it until I saw this opportunity."
However, he's always enjoyed spending time on the water. "I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin in an area with a lot of lakes, so my summers were spent on the water."
That meant a lot of swimming, as well as boating, water skiing, canoeing and sail boating.
"Whoever had a boat determined what kind of boating I did," he said.
In addition to running Navarro, Mr. Peterson does consulting work for hospitals and is a faculty member for The University of Phoenix's online program.
He said he's hoping to get Navarro established and eventually add more employees.
Navarro Canoe Co.
What: A company offering handcrafted canoes. Address: 2219 3rd Ave., Rock Island. Owners: Bruce and Sue Peterson, of Rock Island. Phone number: (563) 265-1492. Website: navarrocanoe.com has links to the company's Facebook and Twitter accounts
Today is Saturday, May 18, the 138th day of 2013. There are 227 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A large variety of children's wagons and gigs have arrived in thecity and are being sold at war prices. 1888 -- 125 years ago: All Rock Island retail houses, with the exception of a clothingstore and a jewelry store, have agreed to early closing hours during the summer months.The store will be closed at 8 p.m. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Baseball enthusiasts in Rock Island are attempting to raise$20,000 to keep the Island City Park open, despite the fact that the city has no franchise inorganized baseball this year. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The organization of a third rural young people's unit will beundertaken tomorrow night at the Milan Presbyterian Church, with Mrs. Mildred K.Wellman, home advisor, and Robert Smith, county farm adviser in charge. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Deere & Co. will begin a "big switch" on its telephone systemMonday morning. The extension numbers of all 1,600 telephones on the firm's EastMoline and Moline exchanges will be changed Monday morning. 1988 -- 25 years ago: East Moline's June Jamboree VI -- Nostalgia Days, will seemlike a '60s revival with the appearance of stars like Bobby Vee, Freddie Cannon, PeterNoone, Turtles, The Grass Roots and Lou Christie. This year's festival has beenexpanded to five days, June 22-26, at the Northeast Park complex.