update from walker foam

saw this on surfermag.com, thought folks here would be interested too…



952 Dominguez Ave.

Wilmington, CA



Factory fax: 310-513-1630



We’re blowing blanks.

Gary Linden, March 9, 2006

Three months have passed since Gordon Clark closed the doors on Clark Foam and left the surfboard industry reeling. With a yearly production at anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 blanks, Clark left behind a huge market and opportunity, with no one company prepared to immediately fill it. In that three months, there have been a number of announcements and press releases and proclamations from companies all over California and the world, saying they were coming to the rescue of the surfboard industry, and would be meeting all demands soon.

Meanwhile, the Walker Foam plant at Wilmington, California have been surely and steadily increasing their production and doing all they can to fill the unending demand for top-quality surfboard blanks long and short. Working two shifts a day, five days a week – with more production planned in Wilmington and California City –Walker Foam are now doing more than 10 times their production before Blank Monday: “We are fluctuating between 750 and 1000 blanks a week,” General Manager Gary Linden said. “And that number is going up. We are going to add shifts on Saturday and Sunday. Harold Walker is in California City today to see if they can strike up a deal for two big buildings. We will be doing the mixing out there eventually and also pouring foam. Right now we have a 3,000 square foot facility but we are dealing to have a 30,000 square foot facility that will allow us to bring our production up to meet demand. If we can get those buildings and keep a low overhead and train a good labor force, we can manufacture enough to fulfill the American market, and export.”

The demand for blanks is relentless and Walker are doing the best they can to fill it: “I’ve developed phone ear,” Linden said, referring to how many hours he spends on the phone every day, taking orders, explaining the situation, placating nervous customers. “I refuse to get one of those earpieces that people use, so I might just get a chip implanted.”

Walker has sent blanks to existing customer Randy Rarick in Hawaii and also to Pat Rawson and ***** Brewer. They are in negotiations for a full time distributor in Hawaii.

The Walker plant is getting up to speed, and during a typical weekday it is buzzing with activity. Walker now have their own packing boxes with the Walker Foam logo stamped on the side. They look sharp, and those boxes are also for sale to people shipping boards around the world – a service Clark Foam provided that Walker is now continuing.

On a Friday in the second week of March, the Walker plant was buzzing with activity. Their limited storage space was stacked to the gunwales with blanks, many of them being taken out to a container headed for Japan: “Maneuverline in Japan ordered 1200 blanks,” Linden said. “We are sending them 300 and they are glad to get them. That is how it is with just about everyone. No one is happy with the situation. Few are getting the foam they need, but people are appreciative of how we are handling the demand. People are happy with the foam, they just want a lot more of it.”

Around the Walker plant, foamers pour the foam into molds, then gluers and stringers saw the blanks and lay in wood stringers in a variety of rockers and wood types. Along with the foamers, Walker employs carpenters for cutting stringers and gluers for laying up the blanks with stringers in molds. On a typical weekday shift at Walker there are about a dozen workers turning out blanks as fast as they can.

And along with those people, in one corner of the Walker plant there are expert welders building new, lighter molds. There is no room for these molds at the Walker plant, so they are going somewhere else: “Those molds are going to the desert,” Linden said. And once we are at full production, there is a world market we are looking at that the old Walker Foam couldn’t approach and not even Clark could produce for all of it – even at their rate of 6,000 blanks a week. In other words we want to become internationally competitive.”

Shapers from Skip Frye to Pat Rawson are beginning to discover what they were missing all those years, as they mowed foam from Clark: “Skip Frye said the way Walker blanks sand saves him 20 to 30 minutes on every board,” Linden said. “And in Hawaii, Pat Rawson says of all the boards he made for Mavericks surfer Shawn Rhodes, the boards with Walker blanks have held up best.”

Due to changes in the past month, all Walker blanks will be made in the USA. The Walker plant in Wilmington is getting out a thousand blanks on a good week and by adding the weekend shifts they should be able to make that thousand a minimum, and then some. Depending on how negotiations go in California City, those molds being welded together at the Walker plant should be on the trucks soon for the desert, and there will be blanks coming from the near east by the end of March.

Walker are working on a new website which should be online by the end of March, displaying the full range of Walker blanks from 6’ 4” to 10’ 8” and making ordering easier. Looking off into the future, Walker are adding 7’ 1” and 8’ 0” blanks into the mix. Off in the distance, there is competition from within California and around the world, and a relentless demand, but Walker are up and running, faster and faster with each passing week: “We are going to do a better job, make a better product, provide better customer service,” Linden said. “There is room for other companies, but Walker’s goal is 70% of the market, which means about 4500 blanks a week.”

It would be interesting to see them and US blanks compete. It’s like when they seperated ma bell into smaller bells, wonder if foam companies will combo again like teleco is today . . .


It would be interesting to see them and US blanks compete. It’s like when they seperated ma bell into smaller bells, wonder if foam companies will combo again like teleco is today . . .

Not exactly analogous. Ma Bell was a government-created monopoly broken up by the government, with the rationale based largely on the lies of then MCI CEO Bill McGowan. Like any other government touted “deregulation”, it wasn’t as if they ever allowed market forces any real play. What is going on now in the foam blank marketplace appears to be much closer to real competition, Gordon Clark’s allegations about being forced out of busines by the environmental police notwithstanding. Your point is valid, though, real competition pushes everyone to do better.


yeah, when clark was in ops, it was clark foam as the industry (most of it). but now there’s lots of chances for foam companies and more competition . . . .

its going to be interesting to see US blanks (offer 3 types of foam) with lots of old Clark knowledge and mentality, going against walker foam. I wonder if they will have blanks with same density throughout . … or keep the same as clark . . .

And also seeing other foam companies jump in the mix . . .

Even more, which foam type will be the standard (i think its going to be EPS).

Standard to what? Or who?

i ment standard as like clark foam or pu blanks was the “standard” as close to one as foam for surfboards. A general acceptance, unofficial and widely recognizable aspect, if you will. Something such as a general benchmark. As in the case of western army infantry, the standard weapon is a rifle. Flashback to 1400’s it was the sword.

Or in personal computing, Microsoft Windows is a standard. Or when doing internet searches, it is Google or for knowledge, wikipedia.

You could go into people, US adults mainly use a car as a standard for transportation. Kids may use bicycles or skateboards.

Not EPA or HIPAA or city law kind of rule or exacting specifications.

most if not all surfers/shapers knew clark blanks, how they worked, what glassing schedules to use, the limits, the durability . . .

Everything compared to clark foam. When surftech came out, everyone compared how they rode to pu/pe boards.

before it was balsa wood for surfboards . . .