Grubby's asian adventure

With Grubby’s recent rambling diatribe, for those in the know. He seems overly concerned about the US market and the catering to the “sophisticated buyers” or else…

He then goes into all the perceived market variables and about problems here in our own back yard. All the while pointing fingers at everything possible that could kill the future of shaping here in the US. All the while as time goes by the quality of foam he’s manufacturing becomes weaker. I’m sure with all the composite technology, he could easily engineer a strong and light formula. Even if he charged more for this option, most would opt for the new formula. As the market is ready for this.

Another rambling he went into was about the “spy system” and how information transfer and the access of cheaper engineering will eventually lead to “higher quality stronger, light surfboards” from overseas. I’m puzzled as to why he can’t do this here,… now? Makes me wonder if he’s been on vacation in another zip code. The overseas market is brand new, and hes’ been doing this since the beginning, I can’t believe he thinks they will surpass us in the relative future.

All the while, blanks are being back doored to China.

I recently had the opportunity to cash in big on the Asian Market but my conscious wouldn’t let me sell out. After hearing that Clark has been selling blanks to the Asian market, it literally made me feel ill.

I shoulda sold. I would have never thought Clark would sell to that market.

Saint GLUBBY? Is nothing sacred…Ya sure it wasnt greg noll’s cockroached formula or frenchie le pew’strans shipment or clarque fume australia ?can this be substantiated? thats itIm movin to shanghai and becoming a hooker…wheres my pink hot pants and my ash blonde curley wig? …ambrose…I’m outta here …or maybe I gotta read grub-steak’s newsletter myself…and decode the secret message…I hAVE A DE CO DER …


All the while, blanks are being back doored to China.

I recently had the opportunity to cash in big on the Asian Market but my conscious wouldn’t let me sell out. After hearing that Clark has been selling blanks to the Asian market, it literally made me feel ill.

I shoulda sold. I would have never thought Clark would sell to that market.

Not really surprising. Ive heard just about everything you could imagine is being sold to the Chinese…including C&C shaping machines. Perhaps in the future surf shops will “outsource” surfboards to China to increase their margins.

i say lookout grubby… im told china will be suppling usa blanks in the new year at half the price of thier current competition!

Forget Grubby. Better foam already exist: EPS. Get it wide, thick, and shape it as thin as you want. Softness is only a worry for grubby people.

Can anyone post the latest Clark newsletter?

Number one, you are wrong about Clark selling blanks to China, they are getting their foam from Australia. They also are hand shaping the Chinese boards, some of the shapers have been doing it for over 20 years now and a shape costs the factory $1.70. Offer a product that CANNOT be obtained offshore, not the run of the mill entry level board


Number one, you are wrong about Clark selling blanks to China, they are getting their foam from Australia. They also are hand shaping the Chinese boards, some of the shapers have been doing it for over 20 years now and a shape costs the factory $1.70. Offer a product that CANNOT be obtained offshore, not the run of the mill entry level board

Jim, Are you sure all the blanks are from Aus? If asked directly, they will deny. But, I have heard directly from insiders at Clark. Not that I can say for 110% certainty, but don’t be surprised. There could be some blank deverters involved.

Hand shaping has been the modus operandi in China in the past, but they will not only be offering run of the mill entry level boards only. With the technolgies available and with system recently purchased this year. Any boards now produced by other shapers will be knocked off at speed. Any product that is made from common materials will be readily available.

Grubby inisghts are rarely off mark. Atleast this is what is going to happen very soon. This, I can say for sure.

I would like to know who the “insider” is… Clark Foam is NOT selling to the Asia market. They are running at maximum capacity and cannot take any large influx of business. Costs of the raw materials for foam are minimal; it is the labor that costs and the facility. (Thus, blanks are already being made in Asia and California-made blanks are only going to reduce the margins of the Asian-made boards.) Shipping across the Pacific to Asia costs more than the blanks being made in Asia. If the Clark quality is perceived as not the best (consider that he is complying with SoCal laws (he knows about the alcohal-base blanks) and China’s laws are way less restrictive) then why would there be a demand on his product in Asia? Is the end consumer going to know that his China-made “board” was made with Clark Foam? Haa! Imagine the little lam/sticker stating this… He doesn’t need this kind of business. My “insider” is accurate. Also, Gordon has been adamant about maintaining the U.S. market, trying very hard to emphasize what is unique about it so it will have a better chance of surviving the change that is about to come. Being dedicated to the U.S. market, it has been in his best interest to do this rather than sell to Asia… …Lastly, if you’ve read the latest letter (not a diatribe) our hats are off to Matt Biolos; who is already making a difference. What have YOU done, other than start a rumor? The previous letter from Clark suggested that we maintain and re-sell used boards; and I am seeing this in my area, especially the groms. We are doing this out of our factory with team boards, there are almost NO China-made products to be seen. The buzz on the street is that the molded boards break easily (we have some examples in our factory). The local shops say they are not as stoked to re-order. I really think that people like Clark and Biolos are taking a stand and I am puzzled by anyone who is trying to take them down.

You are incorrect, Clark does sell to the Asian market. Now, if the blanks sold to the Asian market will come back to us as imports? Time will tell.

Have you been to the LB harbor? See all those ships with containers backed up out to sea? The dock workers can’t keep up with the containers at 24/7. The major influx is from China and Asia countries, virtually every container once emptied needs a ride back so they can refill and send back to the US, they are offering shipping back extremely cheap. Virtually free by shipping standards. Why send the containers back empty?

I agree, doesn’t make sense for the Chinese to import blanks from US. I was taken by surprise when I had heard that blanks were being shipped to Asia. As you, I can only say I hope it’s not true.

I have a feeling there could be possible diversion of shipment unknown to Clark. If true it seems Clark would be aware of this. Not sure what to make of this.

My hats off to Matt Biolos also for taking the steps to legislate and inform buyers of imported boards. Recylcing used boards is a moot point, this has been the norm. Not enough of good used boards available.

Just because the boards aren’t seen in your area doesn’t mean it is making inroads in other areas. Other major manufacturers have already have had productions done through these asian mfgrs with good results, and are planning on doing more in the future.

As the economy slows down in the next year, it will be more evident. As the imports make more of an impact. This will not affect myself as much as others as I have been fortunate to hedge against this influx. But I think will impact others greatly.

Sorry for the ramblings. Just my thoughts.


The buzz on the street is that the molded boards break easily (we have some examples in our factory). The local shops say they are not as stoked to re-order.

In this era of “destroy your opponet” politics and “win at all costs” tactics I think Clark should buy up these cheap broken boards create an education campaign (about poor quality) with them. Encourage a few key shops to display the dangers of “buying cheap.” People buy this crap because the average surfing teen and all new surfers are uneducated surfboard consumers. That’s why here in the New England we have a sickening amount of Chinese poly and molded boards. Hey if Clark wont do it then some “surf artist” wanting to break into the growing “surf art” scene could create an installation.

The other guys are advertising (ie. boards without bags on baggage carousels); who’s answering back?

If you’re looking to read it for yourselves, you can find the new Clark Foam newsletter (PDF format) in it’s entirety at It was sent out approximately two weeks ago and is definitely worth the read.


Ahhh. BigBrother, you got me there. After a bit more research I just got word that Clark does sell to the Asian market, I failed to realized that they send blanks to Japan for the indigenous and visiting shapers. These numbers are running very high because the market there demands top quality blanks from all over the world. I must also note that the glassing in Japan is possibly some of the best and customers are really into their quality. I should have qualified what I was thinking as being the Asian market, which is China and Thailand where production is taking place on a massive scale. I know that Clark does not sell to this segment as those factories have no good reason to buy such expensive foam when they already have their own. One must realize that the production lines there are producing a board every 7 minutes, 3 at a time, all day long. THEN, a single factory will have 3 or more production lines up and running at any given time. Now, there is an even larger factory being built with a greater portion of its’ footprint dedicated to surfboards. In contrast, the Japan segment makes boards much like we do in SoCal (much like Gordon Clark describes), so perhaps the shipping of blanks to Japan is just “normal” business. The scale of what is going on in the rest of Asia is no longer in the hands of surfers and surfer-artisans, and although it may be described as “good capitalism” there is a certain disregard for how boards have always been made in the past. Clark’s Asian adventure is business as usual and does not include the gigantic market of China/Thailand etc…

Bill Bahne, sits on the board of SIMA, just returned for Australia, where he met with the Mfgs. They are producing the foam for China, an ether based foam, that under no curcumstances COULD be made in California legally and be affordible for surfboards. California is slowly squeezing out the ability to be a player in the big picture. My days are numbered at our factory, there since 1969, 2.5 million dollar homes are being built within a hundred feet of us, the complaints have already started, from the developer and another land owner next door, looking to cash in. Clark has more agencies up his ass on a daily basis to get him out and replace him with more “suitable” land use. EPA, OSHA, Fire department, SCAQMB, he now on the advise of his attorney’s, has a video crew follow and record ALL inspections, so that there can be no mistaking who said what when. We have had foam from Clark at reasonible prices for years with not too many glitches, he say he can make a stronger foam, but not in California anymore, should he also move offshore, and take the jobs with him? Until we are wearing his shoes, it is easy to be the ones pointing fingers at?

Jim, All of us in higher profile coastal areas are feeling the pinch. You are preaching to the choir, Clarks commitment to the US mfgrs has not been noticed through rose colored lenses. It’s only a matter of time. All these forces are squeezing us as mfgrs in California to make choices otherwise not even an issue. I guess it’s called progress. Whatever… time moves on. We’ll see.

Arizona seems a viable alternative, at least for Clark.

Nothing wrong with using different materials. Clarks advice for styrene problems was to build a better exhaust pipe. Why not use something that doesn’t stink???

Jim, you speak as if Clark’s only choice is to continue to make the environmentally insane product he does by moving to a coutnry that will allow that level of pollution. He also has the choice of developing a safer product, one more in tune with the needs of our current world. Regulations can be seen as anti-business, or pro-decent life for everyone. If the choice is clean air and water and less disease vs. more jobs, then sorry, i’m picking the air and water.

I don’t kow about his products being enviromentally insane, all furniture foams use the same TDI chemicals. PVC foam is the number one chemical on the world watch list,the heart of the moulded boards and of course we do need regulation. Ive been shaping for 44 years and am in great health, so I must not be getting dosed or I would have an elboe sticking out of my forehead. Polyurethane, once past the actual pouring stage, becomes a very inert product, now of course this would be stupid and very dangerous with your face over a mold of liquid foam unprotected, like Del Cannon at Walker’s factory, doing a stunt in a surf movie, but he lived. American Mfgs. in general have to be cleaner than elsewhere in the world, so we could go 3rd world and ignore regulations and completely erase what we are doing here to improve the big picture. Americam foamers are less that one tenth of a percent of other polluters that churn out millions of pounds of really bad stuff

well, let me say this.

i am so far outside any “insider - in the know clique”, that i know i don’t know any of the personalities involved in this thread or their particular histories which make most of them so vehement in regard to clark foam.

but i do know this.

clark foam has made reasonably priced foam blanks available to any joker who would come in the door with cash in hand for decades. in this way, clark foam has supported each and every one of our anarchistic endeavors, and allowed us to easily access the basic materials needed for our craft. instead of restricting sales to the already established large manufacturers.

now, with the advent of cheap styrofoam at lowe’s, etc… many of us choose to go this route, and that’s fine. and epoxy resins. that’s a choice also.

but as jim just said. there’s a whole world of heavy polluters out there.

so i wonder. what personal itches are being scratched here?

After making my last post, I happen to read some things about Clark’s operation and if these reports are true, it sure seems they have done a lot of things to make their operation as safe as possible. They should be commended for this and I stand corrected.

Of course none of it is going to be as environmentally safe as something like wood, but I personally am willing to allow that petroleum product use in order to make the surfboards that I enjoy. I’ll just try to make up for it in other areas.

I would not, however, want to relax regulations on Clark to make them more economically competitive against foreign, under-regulated producers. I would instead lobby for tarriffs on these foreign goods that are not made under our environmental standards. This should be done in all industries. Open markets are important but only if we are all operating under the same concern for the environment and the sollution isn’t to allow our companies to sink down to the Chinese level of enforcement, but to penalize the Chinese until they step up to ours.

Read the Clark Foam newsletter. I read it last night and it’s pretty interesting. There are hints of American manufactures not trying the best materials but the focus of the newsletter is the “sophisticated [surfboard] consumer.” That’s it; that’s the key. A massive education campaign must occur in order to increase the percentage of “sophisticated consumers.”

We cannot rely upon the surf mags to do this. They are focused on major advertisers which include SurfDreck and BroadWorks. So beat them at their own game: an organization of boardbuilders should publish ads that act like articles. (A common occurance in most magazines). Instantly traditional boardbuilders will have a bigger voice with magazine editors. One problem down but the campaign must continue on other fronts: retail stores; co-sponsorsed campaign with a clothing manufacturer (educational pamphlet attached to clothing tags featuring a sponsored riders boards, etc.); Pro riders should encourage quiver shots in ads (board-lust is a powerful thing; see Rob Machado’s quiver in a Transworld ad); concerned Pros should speak about their boards and surfer/shaper relationship, etc.

In the face of massive market and advertising forces someone representing the interest of traditional surfboard builders needs the think big and act big.

It’s only a matter of time before Andy Irons or the next generation of hot riders is riding for SurfTech. All it takes is money. Then it’s too late.

[Of course, the backyarders and hobbiest will survive or perhaps flourish in a pop-out world].