James Fisher sent us an obituary of inventor Ken Young (pictured):
“Our dear old friend, mentor, and inventor of the SIEGE Belts and universal SIEGE Stove Cross-Members, Ken Young, passed away last week. He had been fighting cancer for over a year and had received the all-clear earlier this year, only to have it recently return. The second round of chemo proved to be too much for him and he went downhill quickly — alas a few hours before we made it to Sonora to see him one last time. Active and alert to the very end, just two days prior he had invited us up to work with him on a product he had been prototyping.
Ken was a remarkable person of many talents, mostly self-taught. He was a serial inventor and pioneer in the outdoor and survival products industry, having invented the world’s first sport sandal, the Alp Sandal, which at its peak was making around 36,000 pairs of sandals per year. After an arsonist burned his factory down many years ago and insurance covered only a fraction of the loss, he sold the business to his main rival Teva (a later entrant into the sport-sandal arena). For years afterward outdoors enthusiasts such as river-rafters would seek out Alp sandals for their superior support, and he had retained a small stock of sandals that he would part with at shows where we would exhibit the SIEGE STOVES. A few years ago, as an apparent strategic move to ward off him or others restarting production (his non-compete agreement had long expired), just before Ken’s patent (which they owned) on the sandals expired, Teva re-introduced the Alp sandal design with some contemporary updates.
Ken also invented the Avery-Dennison Flip-Back 360 Binder, which featured a hinged internal spine so that the cover can be folded back 360 deg. without pulling the rings and paper over to the side (making it possible to use the binders on one’s lap or a small desk — anywhere there is insufficient space to open it flat). He was a U.S. Navy veteran and expert in hand-to-hand combat weapons, with many unique creations inspired by his travels across some 44 different countries during his younger years. He was also an avid student of Austrian Economics and conservative political philosophy, having written over 600 pages on these subjects. He was a time-efficiency expert and master carpenter, having learned his craft working on wooden boats as a teenager in Long Island. As can be seen in this brief documentary on the custom motorhome he built, everything he put his mind to was designed and made with great attention to detail and craftsmanship. What struck me when reading the comments below the video was how many people were as impressed with Ken and his wise musings as they were with his beautifully-made motorhome.
He had the ability to create masterful designs that were also incredibly functional and durable. His adherence to “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” (variously attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci and other luminaries) infused his designs and the resulting products that we make at SIEGE Works — so much so that the stoves and belts are able to achieve exceptional performance and versatility while also incorporating extraordinary strength and durability, and being aesthetically pleasing.
Ken had so much more knowledge to pass on than he was able to, and will be greatly missed by his many friends and family. At SIEGE Works it is our hope that some of his skills and time-efficiency habits have rubbed off on us so that we can accomplish even a fraction of what he was able to in his exceptional life.”
Today’s feature article is a review written by our Field Gear Editor Emeritus, Pat Cascio.