Malibu now Hobie post
i wasn't implying in any bad fashion ANYTHING about HA Sr. You know HA
Sr??? I'll email you. I was HA Jr's crew on 16's and 18's, if you even
know what that is.
The incident I'm referring too is in all the press, I live in a town
that thrives on the kite and windsport market, I KNOW 4-5 really good
shapers and 1-2 professional designer shapers. Meaning, their name is
on the damn board. Clark foam was/is used by almost every facet of
Gimme a break and read the news, I'm not spreading "rumors" and if you
"hate" it so bad, get a life.
In case you can't find news articles, here's one: Where does it say
HA shut down anything???
Foam Factory's Demise to Cause Ripple Effect
A major supplier to surfboard makers is closing shop, blaming
regulation. Others in the industry now are worried about their jobs.
By Leslie Earnest and Sara Lin
Times Staff Writers
December 7, 2005
For the surfboard industry, the closure of Gordon "Grubby" Clark's
foam factory looms as a wipeout.
The 72-year-old Clark said his business withered under federal and
state regulation, adding that he faced stiff punishment if he
continued churning out the foam blanks that he has sold to surfboard
shapers around the country.
"I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits and even time in
prison," Clark told his clients in a letter sent Monday, announcing
that he would shutter his Laguna Niguel factory after 44 years in
Clark, with surfboard pioneer Hobie Alter, invented the process in the
1950s that led to mass production of surfboards.
His company makes the polyurethane foam blanks, which are in rough
surfboard shapes, for about two-thirds of the surfboards made in the
United States, according to the Surf Industry Manufacturers Assn. in
Environmental regulators denied targeting Clark Foam, but news of his
factory's closure reverberated around the globe. Up and down the
California coast and in Australia and other surf havens, artisan
shapers and surf shops worried that hundreds of businesses would suffer.
"Virtually all the small shapers in America use him almost
exclusively," said Dick Baker, the association's president, who is
chief executive of Irvine-based surf wear maker Ocean Pacific Apparel
Corp. "You could clearly have people shutting down their businesses as
we speak until they can figure out how to deal with the supply issue."
Hank Byzak, owner of Pure Fun Longboards, a surfboard producer in
Encinitas, Calif., said Clark Foam's sudden shutdown was "like an
earthquake happened and we're all victims."
"If we have no raw materials to work with, none of us have a job
anymore," he said.
Clark did not return calls seeking comment. But in his letter he
portrayed himself as a businessman being run out of town by state,
federal and county regulators. He claimed that the Orange County Fire
Authority took a "very tough line and added extra regulation that
could be focused on closing Clark Foam."
And Clark said his company was beset by allegations of unsafe practices.
"We have three ex-employees on full workman's compensation disability
â" evidently for life," he said. "There is another claim being made by
the widow of an employee who died from cancer."
According to the claim, Clark said, chemicals at Clark Foam caused the
cancer. "A few years ago we had one of those horror stories one hears
about lawyers," his letter stated. "Almost $400,000.00 in lawyers fees
and the ex-employee suing Clark Foam got $17,000.00 The judge in the
lawsuit advised me, 'This is just a cost of doing business (in
Federal records show that the foam factory has been cited by the
Environmental Protection Agency for improperly storing a hazardous
A 10-page notice of violation issued in 2004 alleged that the factory
mishandled toluene diisocyanate, or TDI, a liquid chemical commonly
used to make soft flexible foams for padding or insulation.
A known carcinogen, TDI can cause asthma and other lung problems when
breathed in, even at low exposure levels, according to the state
Department of Health Services.
The citation required Clark to develop emergency response plans to
protect his 100 employees and his neighbors from potential chemical
spills. Although Clark could have been fined as much as $27,500 a day,
he corrected violations by the May 2004 deadline as required, EPA
"He complied and we never fined him a thing," EPA spokesman Mark
Merchant said, adding, "We would not have sent him to jail."
Orange County fire officials, who have cited Clark for minor
violations, said they didn't believe that their actions resulted in
his factory's closure. Clark complied with the recommendations, said
Capt. Stephen Miller of the Orange County Fire Authority.
"On the surface, my guess is that it's a business decision [to close]
and he's trying to go out on a soapbox," Miller said.
Clark is a formidable figure in surfing history. In 1959, surfboard
maker Hobie Alter and Clark poured hot resin over a hunk of plastic.
When it didn't melt, the two became the creators of the first process
to mass-produce surfboards.
That remains the single biggest innovation in the history of
surfboards, which before that had been carved out of balsa wood. The
technique helped spark the rise of the modern surfing culture.
There are now about 2 million surfers worldwide, according to the surf
industry association. Surfers who ride the waves daily replace their
boards as often as every month.
Surfboards, which typically sell for $350 to $900, racked up $200
million in retail sales in 2003, according to the industry
association. About 75% of all boards are made in the U.S., the vast
majority of polyurethane foam.
The price of surfboards could climb if Clark's factory remained
closed, some in the industry said. Some predict that many surfboards
will soon be selling for double â" or triple â" what they sold for last
"Our own boards â¦ have gone up in price already," said Byzak, who said
he told surfboard dealers Tuesday to hold off selling his products
until he studied market conditions. "It's the law of supply and demand."
Drew Milton, 22, a surfer at the Huntington Beach pier, said he
expected the price of surfboards to soar.
"I'll probably just really take good care of the one I got now," he
said, nodding to the 2-year-old longboard under his arm.
Surfboard dealers said the closure of Clark's factory could result in
more imported surfboards, which many in the industry have resisted. It
could also mean more business for Surftech, a Santa Cruz company that
cranks out thousands of boards every year at a factory in Thailand.
"It's going to really make the whole industry change its thinking,
something that wouldn't have happened for a long time if Clark was
still staying in business," said Bill Bahne, a board member of the
surf industry association.