Sequim company pioneers sustainable, eco-friendly surfboards

Tucked away in Sequim lies secrets in surfboard technology that competitors would do anything to get their hands on.

"There’s a bunch of factories in Asia trying to knock you off, and we were shaking in our boots knowing if they could figure out how to knock us off, they could kill us on labor rates, and that might be our demise," said Mike Olson.

Mike Olson and Pete Saari, founders of Mervin Manufacturing, say their surfboard-building process is so complex, it's nearly impossible to recreate.

"The whole process isn’t supposed to work, it’s not, it’s all intended for different things we’ve modified to make work, and it’s a miracle that it does," Pete Saari said.

Mike and Pete had a long time to perfect things. The two grew up riding boards on pavement, snow, and when surf culture reached western Washington, they found their own ways to get on the water.

Always one for ingenuity, Olson used his time in high school woodshop to craft surfboards. A few years later, the two got bored of college and began building full-time.

First, they crafted unique model snowboards in the 80s, changing the game for the sport. A few years later, they began building skateboards in the 90s.

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And 12 years ago, their Washington-inspired surfboards hit the market.

"A lot of our beaches here, have fun waves, but they’re incredibly rocky. So we tend to get dings with traditional polyester boards," said OIson. "And all of us know if you get a ding on a good day, it’s a real bummer."

Not only are Mervin Manufacturing surfboards difficult to ding and locally made, they take half the time a normal board takes to make.

The one-of-a-kind building process is green and sustainable, good for the planet and the people making them.

"We were always environmentally-minded coming up in the 70s after the gas crisis, Three Mile Island," said Saari. "'Hey, let's get environmentally friendly wood, let's use environmentally friendly epoxies,' when we’re bringing our friends into the factories we didn’t want a toxic work environment because we're spending our lives in a factory."

"I still pinch myself everyday, I can’t believe it works, but it works, and the boards are amazing," Olson said.

The full story behind Mike's science fiction-like board building process is top secret, but the word is out on their Lib Tech surfboards. Still, the duo has a full team of riders, and their surfboards are sold in countries around the world.

"Lets make some toys and let's do it the best we can," Saari said.

For two kids out of Seattle, it's a dream come true, every day.

"That's our greedy reason, we want to make a board we want to surf," said OIson.


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