Business Booms

While a love of boating and fishing brought together Kurt and Cindy Kalkomey, it was their commitment to keeping people safe on the water that prompted them to launch their Dallas, Texas-based corporation, Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc.

Kalkomey is a dynamic, high-tech company employing more than 30 people who are dedicated to providing outdoor recreational safety training in all 50 states. The company works with state government agencies and organizations to develop state-specific safety courses for boaters, hunters, snowmobilers, and off-road riders who are interested in learning how to be safer and more knowledgeable. Kalkomey’s print, online, and DVD training materials have provided official safety certification for millions of outdoors enthusiasts. The company’s online training sites include boat-ed.com, hunter-ed.com, bowhunter-ed.com, snowmobile-ed.com, and offroad-ed.com. In all, the company manages more than 150 websites.

Kurt Kalkomey got his start in the outdoor recreation business in the 1980s when he bought and operated a Dallas boat dealership for eight years. Around the time he sold the dealership, personal watercraft (PWC) use was becoming more widespread. As the popularity of PWCs soared, so did the number of accidents and casualties. As a result, many states began mandating boating safety courses.

By the mid-1990s, there was a nationwide need to make home-study boater safety education materials more accessible. The Kalkomeys saw an opportunity to revolutionize the delivery of recreational safety training. They incorporated Boat Ed® and partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to produce a boating safety video course.

Word spread quickly about the high quality of Boat Ed’s home-study education materials. Kalkomey began receiving requests from state agencies to develop classroom education materials for boating, hunting and other outdoor activities. Printed classroom manuals became a big part of Kalkomey’s business in the early years, and they still are today.

In 2000, the company was asked to publish a basic boating manual on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons—the first time in those organizations’ history they had used an outside company to do such work.

In 2002, the company produced its hunting manual, Today’s Hunter. A few years later, its boater safety products and Today’s Hunter also were published in Spanish-language editions.

In late 2006, the company took a big step forward when it purchased the education division of Outdoor Empire Publishing (OEP). The additional publications from OEP expanded Kalkomey’s existing suite of safety and education manuals and materials to bicycling, fishing, aquatics, and wildlife identification.

Online Delivery

With the growing popularity of the Internet, Kurt and his wife Cindy, recognized online courses were the next frontier in delivering safety training. Kurt’s knowledge of boating safety combined with Cindy’s expertise in writing algorithms enabled them to develop their groundbreaking boat-ed.com course for Texas in 1998.

The number of Internet-based courses Kalkomey provides took off in the early to mid-2000s. In addition to a growing number of states offering boat-ed.com, Kalkomey was asked to develop online safety courses (and printed course materials) for hunting (2002), bowhunting (2004), and operating off-road vehicles (2005) and snowmobiles (2007).

Kalkomey then became the first company in the recreational safety education field to introduce managed (timed) courses when it launched the Florida Safe Boating Course for Violators in 2007. Since then, many other states have adopted the managed course concept as their delivery standard. In the managed course, students study in a timed fashion. They can progress through the course only after spending a minimum amount of time on each webpage.

Another milestone was the Safety Matters campaign and website. Launched in 2010, Safety Matters is a growing collection of real-life video testimonials that underline the importance of boating safety. A portion of this series includes interviews with people who have been affected by preventable—and often tragic—boating accidents. These moving first-person testimonials encourage boating safety in ways few courses can.

Event Manager is another way Kalkomey is helping state agencies. This tool, which was introduced in 2008, provides a secure, Internet-based system for state agencies to manage any event offered to the public. Through Event Manager, agencies can coordinate student courses, instructor training, field days, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, and other events from start to finish. This product helps instructors and coordinators with managing rosters, grading students, and reporting results.

Focus on the Future

Kalkomey’s cutting-edge approach to technology means state agencies and the public can continue to rely on the company to meet their needs for safety education materials as well as data-, event-, and certification-management tools.

In 2009, to meet the needs of a rapidly growing Internet-based product line, Kalkomey assembled a team of highly skilled programmers and user experience professionals that continues to grow today.

In addition to developing exceptional products, Kalkomey also is committed to responsive service. Treating customers with respect, listening to their needs, and delivering quality products on time are hallmarks of the Kalkomey way of doing business. Whether it’s the complimentary PowerPoint® presentations Kalkomey provides to help instructors teach the material or the in-house expertise extended to new users of Internet applications such as Event Manager, expect Kalkomey to exceed expectations.

Kalkomey Timeline

1995
Kurt and Cindy Kalkomey incorporate Boat Ed® to offer boating safety education and certification tests.
1998
The first boating safety video and home-study test are launched in Texas. Georgia and South Carolina begin offering the boating safety video course. Kalkomey begins delivering online safety training with the introduction of boat-ed.com in Texas.
2000
Boat Ed publishes a boating manual on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard and United States Power Squadrons, the first outside company to do so in the history of those organizations.
2001
Southeast states ask Kalkomey to develop a hunter education manual.
2002
Kalkomey prints its first hunting manual, Today’s Hunter. Hunter-ed.com, which provides online hunter education, is launched. A Spanish-language edition of Boat AmericaNavegando America—is printed.
2003
Kalkomey is the first boating safety course provider to introduce interactive animations to enhance online learning.
2004
The bowhunting education course and exams debut online at bowhunter-ed.com.
2005
A Spanish-language edition of Today’s HunterEl Cazador de Hoy—is printed. Offroad-ed.com, an online source for off-road vehicle safety education and certification, is introduced.
2006
Kalkomey buys Outdoor Empire Publishing’s education division—a library of print publications.
2007
Kalkomey is the first boater safety course provider to stream video segments for online instruction.
2008
Kalkomey’s Event Manager is introduced for Missouri and soon gains wide acceptance. It’s a secure, Internet-based system for state agencies to manage any event offered to the public.
2009
Kalkomey begins recruiting a team of highly skilled programmers and user experience professionals to meet the needs of a rapidly growing Internet-based product line.
2010
To better represent the company’s growing diversification, the Kalkomey brand is introduced, encompassing the full spectrum of print, online, and DVD courses and data management tools. Kalkomey moves its offices to 14086 Proton Road in Dallas, Texas. The new building complex encompasses 30,000 square feet: 10,000 square feet of office space and a 20,000-square-foot warehouse.