Friday, December 09, 2005

Surfin' USA

Anyone remember the surfing craze? When I was in Jr. H.S. (yes, they had schools then), we used to buy surfer magazines, pin up surfing pictures on the wall, and of course listen to the Beach Boys ad naseum. But then I grew up about 20 miles from Santa Cruz.

Well, looks like one of the oldie but goodies is biting the dust:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The southern California company that helped turn surfing into a mass popular sport has closed for business, marking the end of an era immortalized by The Beach Boys and Baywatch.

Gordon "Grubby" Clark, who with surfboard pioneer Hobie Alter invented the foam and fiberglass process that made surfboards lighter, faster and more responsive, stopped production and sales from his Laguna Niguel factory on Monday after 44 years in business.

In a seven-page letter to suppliers seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Clark cited weariness in a lengthy battle with environmental regulators over the manufacture of the foam blanks, or rough surfboard shapes, that go inside about two-thirds of U.S.-made surfboards.

"For owning and operating Clark Foam, I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison," Clark, 73, said in the letter.

Clark said authorities in California and Orange County, where his factory is located, were waging an ever tougher crackdown on the company's use of a toxic chemical called TDI, which can cause breathing problems.
When I hear a business-person moaning about environmental regulations, I think of the numerous other manufacturers who comply and make money. I suspect this guy was relying on premium prices due to the name on the board. The newest generation of suffers may not care if the board is from Clark or China. I think that if there was a buck in it, he'd deal with the regulations.


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