Canoes A Perfect Fit For Mullett

Canoes A Perfect Fit For Mullett
Journal Review 7/26/2009
by Tyler Montgomery

CJ Mullett’s eyes lit up as he drove past the last corn field and made his way down a hill toward Sugar Creek.

Trees had taken the place of the corn fields on both sides of his Ford truck. Now he was in his element.

Mullett, the Clements Canoes operation manager, said he has known since his second weekend on the job that this was a perfect occupation for him.

Now 25, Mullett has been working in the canoe business since he was 16. He remembers the second weekend that he worked, Clements Canoes held a Wabash Day for the students.

A huge group of Wabash College students took advantage of the special, but they stuck together on the river and all turned in their canoes pretty much at the same time.

Mullett said it was one of the hottest days of the year and he and his coworkers all looked at each other when they had to collect all the canoes at once.

“It was such a rush,” Mullett said. “But it was right then that I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

The other teens he worked with that day felt otherwise. He was the only one of the group to return for work the next season.

“The owners saw that,” Mullett said. “They started sending me to outdoor recreation seminars and things like that.”

Over the years, Mullett has grown to completely love every aspect of his job. And there are a lot of aspects.

On Friday morning, he was doing a little electrical work. A large van backed up to one on of the shed doors. He held a roll of tape in one hand, a pair of pliers in the other, and somehow held onto the wires that connected break lights to a trailer. He did a quick fix-it job.

“Every day is different,” Mullett said. “You never really know what is going to happen.”

Between April and September, Clements runs about 250 trips a day and Mullett is there to keep things moving. He has to use people skills as well, because he comes into contact with 500 to 600 people a day.
“Some of those people have been coming for years,” he said. “I remember some when they were just little kids.

“Now, they are in their 20s and they come with their girlfriends, or with their families.”

Mullett grew up not far from Clements’ current location on S.R. 234.

“I’ve been down this creek more times than you can imagine,” Mullett said.

When he was 16, he was just like any other teenage boy. He had gotten his license and knew he needed a job.

“I knew I didn’t want to flip burgers, so this seemed like a good idea,” he said.

The summer job was a lot like working at a summer camp. Nothing could have been better for a young man that had grown up on the creek.

“It’s great to have people come off the creek with a huge smile on their faces,” he said.

Over the years, he seldom has to deal with an unhappy customer. Of course, like any business, there always are those times.

“Some of the people from the cities who come out aren’t sure what to expect on their trip. They experience some mosquitoes, bugs and sometimes snakes.”

The lion’s share of visitors simply loves a beautiful day on the river.

“We get most of our business from Chicago, Indianapolis and from the surrounding states,” Mullett said. “We hardly ever get anyone from Crawfordsville.

“It’s like they don’t know we are here. They are completely missing out on an asset to their community.”

Clements Canoes is located in Montgomery County at 8291 W S.R. 234.