By Drew Harris
Two Brothers Canoe Inc. of Rogers was born of siblings with two skillsets: Louis Shaw, a self-described river rat with a passion for paddling, and Bill Davis, who had the knowledge and know-how of forming synthetics.
After attending a convention, Davis, who owned a Fiberglass company and was aware of his brother’s proclivities, picked the brains of reps from Wenonah Canoe of Chattanooga, Tenn., and asked his brother, “Wanna make canoes?”
“Sure,” Shaw replied.
Two weeks later, Davis called Shaw and raised the subject again, noting their uncle had vacuum molding equipment he was looking to sell.
“You’re really serious about this canoe business, aren’t you?” Shaw asked.
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Davis replied.
They were in. After three years of building the shop and constructing an oven on weekends, they produced their first canoe, the Arkota, in 2009.
Two Brothers canoes are made from a plastic known as T-Formex which consists of layers of ABS plastic and a foam core. It produces a robust, lightweight and rigid material, highly resistant to abrasion while maintaining its structural memory. Even if wrapped around a rock or tree, the hull is able to return to its original shape with little distortion.
Shaw describes the forming process as an “all-hands-on-deck” procedure; in reality, it's just two sets of hands, his and Bill’s. The plastic is heated for about 30 minutes to a temperature of 300 degrees, at which point it is pliable enough to be formed.
“It basically comes out like a big, plastic lasagna noodle and you’ve got about one minute to form it in the vacuum mold,” he said. The gunwales, thwarts, seats and grab handles are all then installed by hand.
Shaw said he has always enjoyed the sun on his legs and thus prefers the spaciousness and utility of a canoe in which one might put camping gear and a full-sized cooler. He said the partners are doing their best to help people see the value of being able to float and camp on a river.
Two Brothers Canoe boasts three offerings, each constructed of T-Formex and featuring ash wood seats and yokes:
The Arkota is designed for river and Ozark stream paddling. Dubbed an “enthusiast canoe” by Shaw, it has a flared bow and stern that allows for dry descents in Class II+ rivers. At 16 feet in length and with a shallow arch hull, it offers outstanding maneuverability and quick response for paddlers who choose a challenging line. It also makes a great solo canoe.
The Intrepid, under license from Mohawk Canoe, is a versatile, all-purpose recreational canoe equally at home on rivers, lakes or ponds. Slightly wider and two inches longer with less arch in the hull than the Arkota, it offers better initial stability. This makes it better suited to those who paddle with children or pets who tend to rock the boat, which is also a plus for fishermen.
The Brightwater offers an excellent blend of tracking and stability. At 14 feet, it is lighter in weight and suitable for Class I-II rivers or flat water. It's currently out of stock, but Two Brothers hopes to have it back in production soon.
Visitors are welcome to schedule appointments to meet at the shop by calling (479) 418-9722, or find them on Facebook.