Orlando, Florida — Glen Duff and Tim Zeckser regularly took friends from their church’s student ministry out on Glen’s boat for some fun and fellowship on the James River in Virginia. “Fellows-in-a-ship”, they called it. Although their goal was to unify the group through watersports, they found instead that many friends struggled to get up on water skis and wakeboards. This left some in the group feeling left out or discouraged.
So in 2008, Glen and Tim began dreaming about ways they could get everyone up on the water and actively enjoying watersports. “We flipped over our paper placemats one morning at breakfast and started sketching,” Glen said. “Desperation led to inspiration, and inspiration led to a trip to the garage to build our dream.” They used plywood to construct their first prototype, which they concede didn’t work very well and was probably quite dangerous.
But the two didn’t give up. They bought an old kneeboard at a garage sale and reconfigured it several times — adding water shoes, creating a teardrop shape in wood and attaching an old, collectible Cyprus Gardens water ski.
With small glimmers of success, they went back to the drawing board dozens of times to perfect several prototypes in the garage, inviting other friends to work alongside them on the project. The mission was clear: create a safe board that allows riders from any age group and skill level to get up easily with little strain, and have fun.
After four years of changes to the board, thousands of test rides by a few hundred friends in student ministries, the invention of an ergonomic tow rope that further assists riders, patent approval and the assembly of a solid management (Scott Parks and Brock Hughes) and investor team, ZUP™ was ready to be introduced to the watersports industry.
Glen and his wife, Diane, showed the ZUP Board™ concept to a few key leaders in the watersports industry at the 2012 Surf Expo in Orlando. That is where they met Jim Emmons, the President of the Water Sports Industry Association.
After viewing their ZUP™ video, Jim immediately encouraged Glen to take his product to market, because Jim had seen on numerous occasions the frustration that develops when one or more members of a boating party are not able to successfully stand up riding a board or ski behind a boat. For him, the ZUP™ board immediately solved that problem. Plus, when you combined this feature with the knowledge that he had of the boating industry, (after serving 21 years as the publisher of WaterSki and WakeBoarding magazines) where there are over 70 million American participants, he knew that there would be a tremendous market potential. From this chance meeting, he encouraged Scott, Brock and Glen to share this idea with Overton’s, the largest marine mail order catalog in the world. Jim also introduced Glen to Chris Durham, who he had known for more than 25 years. Jim knew that Chris had the experience, skills and more importantly the expertise to create a safe and reliable product for the industry.
The ZUP Board™ and DoubleZUP™ Tow Handle & Rope are currently being sold by Overton’s. Other retailers will be adding these products to their line as sales and marketing begins this week. The ZUP Board™ retails for $329.99 to $359.99, and the DoubleZUP™ Tow Handle & Rope retails for $119.99 to $139.00.
For more information about the ZUP™ products including an online instructional video,