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Has anyone been in contact with Joe O'Blenis recently?

kisielk

Paddler
Joined
Jul 5, 2010
Messages
106
Location
Vancouver, BC
I ordered a greenland paddle from Joe back in September and haven't heard back since. I tried emailing him a couple of times last month and also contacting him through his Facebook page but have not received any responses on either.
 
I can share some experience on this subject. I purchased a paddle set and a few other items from Joe many years ago. Great paddles. Very high quality for a backyard shop; high quality by any standard. I did recommend them to others. I had many email conversations with him in those years and counted him as a friend.

Once or twice I recall seeing posts like yours on paddling forums, including Paddling.net and would send him an email to let him know a customer was having trouble contacting him and to address it. I didn't think much of it at the time.

A few years ago I ordered a two piece GP from him and made the mistake of sending the money up front. It was about $300 CAD best as I recall. The order was placed in very early winter, intending that it be done by spring for the next paddling season. That's when I stopped hearing from him.

When spring was approaching, I suffered the same problems; multiple emails went unanswered for months at a time. I changed my message from "Where's my paddle?" to "If you can't deliver this then refund me my money.". This also went unanswered. By about June I finally got my last email from him claiming that he had suffered an injury and was unable to work on the paddle, but that he would be done very soon.

I reiterated that either send the paddle or refund the money. I think I also made it clear that failing to communicate was not acceptable. And that was the last I ever heard of him. It's been a few years since then.

Another friend in another online forum claimed others he knew had similar experiences.

This was very disappointing to me not just for the one order. I like to support local businesses, especially with quality products. But I can not recommend his business based on my experience. Not once has he reached out to me to make this right.
 
He posted to FB April 19th

I agree that failing to communicate with a customer is unacceptable, for any small business.
 
For anyone on Vancouver Island looking to order Greenland paddles, I am happy to put a plug in for Randy Millar, who makes beautiful and functional paddles in his shop near Nanaimo. He only creates a small number of them per year (my paddle was an 8 week turn around, but it depends on his schedule). He's reliable and really stands behind his work.
 
I will second that. I've had 2 paddles made by Randy Millar, a very reliable guy.
Not surprised about Joe O'Blenis, he's had that bad reputation for several years now. 10 years go, I ordered a long Greenland paddle with him and got a short storm paddle instead that I have basically used for spare.
On the carbon side, Novorca and Northern light paddles have had the same reputation problem at a much higher cost. Novorca has been out of business for a few years. His paddles were spectacular if you were lucky to receive it.
Sometimes fine craftman don't make good business man.
My last 2 carbon paddles have come from Superior and Gearlab paddles who are totally reliable companies.
 
There is always a danger in ordering from a small shop, especially when it is a one man shop. This sounds similar to the situation with Patrick at Onno Paddles. If anything goes astray with that one man, your order is in trouble. Even when that one man is a fine person and does wonderful work, that person can encounter an unwelcome stumbling block. Nevertheless, that doesn't dissuade me from buying from a small shop.

My most recent paddle from a small shop is my quill paddle from Nimbus (last I heard, it was a 2 man shop on Quadra Island). It is by far, my favorite paddle and especially easy on my arthritic shoulder.
 
Late to the party, but just an update on the Joe situation. Around nine years ago, I ordered a paddle from Joe and paid him up front. For around six months there was a variety of excuses about why it wasn't being finished, ranging from an order of cedar from BC didn't come in, to the epoxy didn't cure properly, etc. After a year, he simply ignored any of my messages. I live local (three hour drive from Joe), so I told him next time I was in T Bay, I'd stop by the shop. He then blocked me on all forms of communication.

I stumbled across this conversation today while searching for a 260 cm paddle, and although I forgot about Joe many years ago, I have to admit, it made my blood boil again, and I am sad to see that he is still in the scamming business.
 
I remember meeting Joe a lifetime ago back when he lived here in Vancouver area and thinking he's a good guy, bought a boat off him. I seriously wonder if he has a substance abuse issue. Not making any excuses, sounds like it's absolutely unacceptable what he does to his customers. Just...sad to hear.
 
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I concur, it is a shame Joe is out of communication. I had one of his paddles almost 10 years and loved it. Unfortunately, it broke due to my abuse over the years, but am quite happy with the Kalleq with which I replaced it. Hope Joe's ok.
 
I have 2 Blenis two-piece greenland paddles. The carbon ferrule on one has come loose. Does anyone know what glue he used?
 
I have 2 Blenis two-piece greenland paddles. The carbon ferrule on one has come loose. Does anyone know what glue he used?

No idea what glue has been used. But I'd make sure to properly prep both sides (ferrule and loom) and glue it back together with West System's G/Flex epoxy? As long as it's a nice snug fit, G/Flex should allow for dissimilar microscopic expansion / retraction of both materials in changing temperature, humidity and load on the joint.
 
I just read this post. I am George from "Paddles by George", one of my customers also had ordered a paddle set from Joe about two years ago, she went through the same experience with Joe, no reply from many emails to Joe regarding her order.
I am also a one man shop making Greenland paddles and this complete disregard of people's orders is making it difficult for me to sell paddles. See "paddles by george" on Facebook and deepbaykayaking.ca for more info regarding my paddles.
 
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