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Kooka Bay
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Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Bender and Kookabay on 02/16/2012 16:27:07 MST Print View

Bender contacted me in early December about buying out Kookabay. We discussed the idea for a few weeks, what came with the business, what kinds of products I was going to offer, what my goals for the business were, etc.. We were going to move forward on the deal by the first of the year but his communications got scarce by the end of December and after Jan 7th I never heard from him again.. It's like he fell off the map..

Now I do know that he was not sick at the time and he was just burnt out and had found another job that was taking up all his time. This was his only reason he wanted to sell the business.. His words exactly were that he wanted to pass on the torch because he was burnt out..

Now with all this bad publicity for the Kookabay Brand, I no longer think this would be a good deal even for free.. It sounds like a PR and warranty nightmare. Something in December would of been ok, but now NO WAY..

So with that said, I always thought Bender was a good guy and not someone looking to screw people out of their money, so my guess is he got overwhelmed and just called it quits.. If this is the case then he really should refund everyones money who ordered a pad and fix and send back everyones pad that was in for warranty repair because this is no way to treat anyone.. I realize I shouldn't post his phone number on this forum but it seems as if he let alot of people down.

EDIT- I got a few email's from people complaining that I posted Benders phone number on the forum. I didn't think helping people get their money back would upset so many people, so I sent it to Cola. His post is a few under mine. If you ordered a pad from Bender and didn't receive it or if he has your pad and want it back, ask Cola for the number. Thanks..

Edited by Mountainfitter on 02/16/2012 21:10:46 MST.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Bender and Kookabay on 02/16/2012 19:27:45 MST Print View

I don't know Lawson, you've built up a reputation on here, and if you bought Kooka Bay--especially if you marketed it under your own brand--I'd order from another pad from you when the time came. When you mentioned that you were looking to expand your product line on another thread, I wondered if you might fill the gap left by Bender's absence. There's definitely a market there.

It seems that people's biggest problem has been customer service, not the product. But you've handled both of my orders with speed, and I've had no problems. Just my $0.02.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 02/16/2012 19:28:38 MST.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Re: Kooka Bay on 02/16/2012 19:35:57 MST Print View

I completely agree. The Kookabay brand and products are strong, the business just wasn't being run right. Hopefully nothing happened to Bender as I personally never felt he was a scammer so I do suspect something more happened. I'm guessing he would have just shut the doors if he ultimately didn't want to do it anymore but walking away cleanly.

I'd be interested in hearing if someone is able to get in touch with him or could shed some light on whether he's okay.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Kooka Bay on 02/16/2012 20:39:05 MST Print View

I agree with Clayton and JGG, Lawson. If you bought up the name and/or products, they'd sell very well. You yourself have a good reputation and I seriously doubt that any negativity would be transferred to you. I'd certainly order another pad like mine when the time comes for a replacement, and I wouldn't hesitate ordering from you.

Yes, if anyone does hear from or about Bender, please let the BPL community know.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
What Next Bender ramble? on 02/16/2012 20:43:02 MST Print View

The situation and timimg with this latest "breakdown" of Kookabay is following almost exactly the same scenario as around this time last year. I don't even have to look back at the old threads; except that last year he rallied and caught up and even eventually got his new website up and running.

Evidently based on Lawson's info that isn't in the cards this time around. And I'm not sure I'd have posted the man's phone # right off the bat.......... maybe give this community a chance to get a resolution in motion. Hopefully everyone will try using some restraint. I'm sure there's enough pressure on Bender right about now........

Just looking at a Kookabay pad one could infer the assembly process was extremely detailed, precise and demanding. Evidently "Bender" did all the work. Anyone thinking of taking up production might want to consider amending the process to protect against burnout; maybe coming up with a team assembly process. Of course then there would be additional labor costs to consider.

I'd imagine Bender has plenty of ideas about how the process might or might not be stream-lined or automated.

I'd also imagine that he has at least some store of materials.

His knowledge of the process is certainly worth something. Why can't we attempt to initiate a dialog with Bender on working an honorable way out of this situation that doesn't leave customers hanging and results in some remuneration and hopefully participation by Bender for his knowledge, materials/supplies and experience. You'll know as much about making DAM mattresses when you've spent as much time making them as Bender.

Admittedly Bender is not currently (based on the gist of this thread) handling this in a stand-up way but running him into the ground isn't likely to help.

And as much as he may be burnt out and over it at this point in time he has to have some reserve of love for the process and product to have gotten as far with as he did.

I want to acknowledge my admiration of his having the Chutzpah to figure it out and the gumption to get the business up and running and my sympathy that the whole endeavor has evidently exhausted him. Good job Bender! you made a great product! Now let's bow out with a little Grace for God's sake.

Taking a look at the past several years of posts on BPL concerning Kookabay or Dam mattresses it is obvious this is a product in demand. A thorough internet search will also show alternatives are few and not really that competitive.

And if you've used a DAM you know the combination of comfort,warmth and weight is unbeatable.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Number on 02/16/2012 21:00:25 MST Print View

Cola your probably right about posting his number, I just deleted it. I am going to send it to you.

Everyone who needs Benders phone number. Cola has it

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Number on 02/16/2012 22:02:20 MST Print View

I would be interested in buying those new valves Bender had custom made for his pads.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Number on 02/16/2012 22:27:01 MST Print View

I just hope he drops my pad back in the mail to me. Its already built- just needs a new valve.

I offered to pick up return shipping, which he had originally offered to pick up.

I'll take it back with the old valve or whatever- I just want the pad back- no hard feelings.


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Bender and Kookabay on 02/17/2012 06:42:48 MST Print View

@Lawson, for what it's worth, I'm one of the people who had been *trying* to order a custom pad from Kookabay since November. (Luckily never even got to the sending money point.) I've ordered things from you and, from what I've seen, you run a good business. From a PR point of view, I don't think Kookabay will be a liability for you. (Warranties might be a different matter.)

Bender's pads themselves have a great reputation and I, for one, would love to see the technology passed onto someone who can actually produce it. JMO.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Bender and Kookabay on 02/17/2012 10:10:46 MST Print View

I find it interesting that many folks want to "defend" Bender, given that he is "one of us." Now would we have that attitude towards BP or Goldman Sachs?

Unless Bender is dead, in a coma, or in a foreign prison he has not acted with integrity... he has taken money or returned products; other people's money or property and not provided the promised product or service. To me this is an integrity/moral issue.

Did Lawson do the proper thing by posting Bender's phone number? I think so. We have no problem posting email contacts or phone numbers of large companies that have failed to act responsibly. Why should we treat the little guy differently?

Also things like this are not good for the small cottage manufacturers, it makes the buying public more hesitant to purchase from them.

Should Lawson purchase Kookabay if given the opportunity. Well apparently the product and construction techniques are good, given community feedback. I have one of his 1 oz pillows, nice product. But the name now has little value, so no "Blue Sky" for the name.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Kooka Bay on 02/17/2012 10:16:51 MST Print View

Maybe Lawson, or some other interested member, could work out a takeover with Bender and then use the "Kickstarter" system to help get this venture off to a strong start.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Kookabay on 02/17/2012 10:17:39 MST Print View

I actually agree with Nick for once.

Off to pour myself a stiff drink. ;)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re Kookabay on 02/17/2012 10:27:37 MST Print View

"I actually agree with Nick for once."

Dang! I better go back and edit the post and state how I really feel :)

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Bender and Kookabay on 02/17/2012 10:39:24 MST Print View

Why not just buy his equipment and pay him to learn his techniques and fold it into your own offering? No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While you're at it, you could gain some karma by collecting the funds paid to him that haven't resulted in product, and deliver product to those people who are out (or return their money). You have an opportunity to score some serious karma.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Kookabay on 02/17/2012 10:42:10 MST Print View

Don't worry Nick. I'm sure we'll disagree again. :)

I'll still share that stiff drink with you though.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re Kookabay on 02/17/2012 11:12:33 MST Print View

Ditto on Nick. At this point the excuse better be a tragedy else there is none.

Lawson. Buy the equipment and technique. I'd buy from you. You have been solid in my dealings and I trust it with your name on it.

Dan Smith
Good Paper on 02/17/2012 11:37:35 MST Print View


Or just purchase the designs and leftover materials, raw material contacts, etc. and not all the existing baggage. Rename or rebrand the product line and move forward helping and supporting the new customers you gain from your good reputation.

The existing owner (Bender) needs to personally make good on all outstanding product and debt on his own time and dime, and I see no reason why you would want all the baggage since you would be losing money on the warranties, backordered goods and unhappy existing customers. You didn't get paid on those past products or customers, and aren't in business to lose time and money on something you had no control over.

If you choose to take over all the existing customer issues, you'd better get the company and all associated content for close to free.

Burned out or not, I feel for the current customers are getting hosed, but as a new business owner, you need to start from scratch if you wish to enter that segment and only honor warranties and orders from the day you acquired the business, and not retroactively. I understand goodwill can go a long way in gaining new customers, but each warranty item or backorder you supply is out of your own pocket and this could put you out of business before you even get started.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kooka Bay on 02/17/2012 11:38:58 MST Print View

My defense of Bender was simply based on my past dealings with him. However, I agree that he needs to act fast right now on refunds/returns! He'll never sell the business with those liabilities (and possible legal action) hanging over him!

Kooka Bay mats are a quality product that fill a niche that nobody else is attempting to fill. I agree that his methods, equipment and materials would be a good investment, but they are losing value every day that he remains out of contact with the world!

EDIT, LATER: Bender's prices and weights were comparable to the NeoAir (which for me is highly uncomfortable thanks to the horizontal baffles), so I would disagree with Mike's statement. Plus his customized pads were a unique product.

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/17/2012 12:19:43 MST.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Give it a miss on 02/17/2012 11:41:33 MST Print View

If i was Lawson, i would give this a miss.
The 'big guns' have their sights set on the UL pad market, and you'll never beat their price point.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Bender and Kookabay on 02/17/2012 11:41:34 MST Print View

"Now would we have that attitude towards BP or Goldman Sachs?"

No, because I don't have a relationship with BP or Goldman Sachs. I value relationships, and I'm willing to give a little extra to those with whom I have them. While I don't know Bender personally, I've chatted with him on this site, I've chatted with him via email, and I've purchased from him in the past. All of those communications have been positive experiences. To me, this means something. May mean nothing to you.

Obviously, my attitude/feelings could change with additional information. We don't have that yet, so rather than quickly abandon a friendly relationship, I'm willing to wait until I find out more.

"Unless Bender is dead, in a coma, or in a foreign prison he has not acted with integrity"

That's what I love about you Nick, your steadfast black and white take on the world. Me, I like all those interesting shades of gray you're missing out on. ;-)