It all started because one couldn’t get quality watersport equipment in Czech. “I asked my friend who had a company manufacturing life jackets in the U.S. to send me the material and I will try to put it together here.” Marcela Hilgertová remembers the birth of the HIKO. “After dinner we put the kids to sleep, took down the table cloth underneath which we marked lengths of straps and rubber cords and together with my husband we worked late nights,” Marcela describes the beginnings with a sewing machine in an apartment in Prague. The year was 1990 when Ivan and Marcela Hilgert started their business.
Because the number of orders was increasing and the foam for life jackets was taking more and more space, they rented two rooms in a university’s dormitory. “And that is how it went on. Every time we ran out of space we had to move to a bigger place.” Marcela summarizes the strategy. Today the company’s headquarters are located in Jíloviště, a village near Prague. There they built a store, sample room, rental, manufacturing facility, and warehouse. Continuously, other members of the Hilgert family joined the business. First on board were Luboš and his wife Štěpánka, a duo coach and athlete that was collecting medals in world championships and Olympic Games on the turn of the millennium. Two-time Olympic champion Štěpánka Hilgertová is now taking care of the company’s customers through social media and is partially responsible for the company’s test team. Hiko Team is a group of experienced athletes from various water sport disciplines – white water slalom, rodeo, extreme kayaking, seakayaking, and others, who help to develop and test new products.
Now, even the youngest generation of the Hilgert family is anchored in the company. Luboš Hilgert junior, also actively competing in water slalom, is an IT consultant in the company. Matyáš and Natálie are taking care of design and visual presentation of the company. Amálie – the youngest paddling family member is two-time junior world champion and a member of HIKO Team – representing the family brand. Next to the family members, around 40 employees are the moving force of the company, some from the very beginning.
Under the HIKO brand the company has provided equipment for water sport for a quarter of a century. Where did the name come from? The history tracks back all the way to the midst of the last century when Ivan’s and Marcela’s parents - Luboš Hilgert senior and Zdeněk Košťál met and together they represented Czechoslovakia on white water. They taught their kids to love water and sport. The name HIKO came out of the first syllables of their last names. Until today both patriarchs help out in the company.
The family company is driven by a philosophy that only the best is good enough and is striving to provide its customers with top quality products and service. The company was always a purely Czech company that designs, manufactures, and sells its own products.
Our goal is to provide you with the best products to magnify your wild water experience.