Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that float randomly through your mind when you least expect them.
Four years ago, Daniel and Kate Spray were relaxing and enjoying time on the lake at the family cottage when they began to look around the lake and realize how out of place their flamingo and pineapple inflatables looked surrounded by the scenery. iconic of Muskoka.
“It was just an idea we had because our family would have swans, flamingos…and we would come to think that nobody was making inflatables that look good on the lake and are for Canadians. . That’s all that would look good in Florida,” says Daniel.
And while most ideas usually go to the abyss, for some reason he says they decided to jump on this one. They did not look back.
In 2018, former Oakville residents officially launched Float-Eha proudly Canadian company that designs and sells premium floats and floating mats that blend seamlessly into the Canadian outdoors.
In the fall of 2021, the couple decided to move their family out of town and landed in Barrie, as they felt it would suit not only their young family, but also the success of the business.
With an ever-growing selection of inflatables — beavers, raccoons and the iconic loon, maple leaf and even a giant six-person Party Moose Island Float, complete with swim platform and cup holders. — the company strives to differentiate its products from what is traditionally found in the big box stores and to help bring a little “Canadiana” back to the fun and relaxation at the cottage.
“Looks aside, it’s a one-of-a-kind float. In terms of quality, it’s not even close to what you would get at Wal-Mart. We make them about 30-40% thicker than the floats you would get at a big box store,” says Daniel.
“Quality is really important to us because we don’t want to go through a float every year and we don’t want anyone going through a float every year,” adds Kate, noting that the company offers a three-year warranty on all floats.
The company recently partnered with Trees Canada and $1 from every item sold is donated to planting trees across Canada. The couple say they try to produce less waste by making the floats last longer, and then offset our carbon footprint by helping to reforest Canada.
In addition to floats, Float-Eh also offers seven different sizes of water mats. Three-ply mats, Daniel says, are great for teens or adults, while the two-ply option is ideal for young children and young families.
“Our largest mat is 18 feet long. It’s huge and can hold up to eight people, probably more,” he says. “They are just awesome. You lay out your mat, you can walk on it, you can run on it, push yourself back. It’s soft so if you fall, you don’t get hurt.
The thickness of their carpet brand, Kate adds, is what sets them apart.
“There are a lot of rugs on the market right now. We were in a big box store the other day and (one) was at a really affordable price. Then we went up and touched it,” she said. “If people don’t know what to look for in a rug, they’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on something that probably won’t last or support them.”
Looking at the overall thickness of your water mat, she says it’s extremely important. “Just because something says there are three layers doesn’t mean the layers are thick.”
As parents, the couple know how good it is to have something to keep the kids entertained — and that will tire them.
“We try to explain to people how much it will change your life if you try to keep the children busy. They love it, and then if they want to take a break, it’s also super comfortable to lay down on,” Kate says.
It’s certainly much better than the wooden floating dock Daniel used as a child, he admitted.
“Since we put the water mat there, nobody touches the wooden one,” he says.
Although the early years were difficult, they are proud of how they managed to turn a small idea into a successful family business.
“It’s been wild and we’re so grateful for everything,” he says. “People have great ideas for businesses all the time. We are really grateful that what we thought was a good idea — and funny — that other people share our sense of humor.