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Clark Foam shuts down, Panic in the Surfboard sector


Industry News.

Clark Foam To Close Factory?

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 December, 2005 : - - In a move that could have long-term repercussions on the domestic surfboard market, Clark Foam Founder Gordon Clark announced today in a faxed letter to shapers that “effective immediately Clark Foam is ceasing production and sales of surfboard blanks.” Representatives from Clark Foam were unavailable for comment.

Clark Foam, based in the increasingly upscale town of La Niguel in Orange County, California, is the undisputed leader in the production of polyurethane foam blanks, a position it’s held since the mid 1960s. It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of domestic polyurethane surfboards use blanks from Clark Foam.

Clark’s letter, which opens with the sentence, “For owning and operating Clark Foam I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison,” goes on to say, “The short version of my explanation is that the State of California and especially Orange County where Clark Foam is located have made it very clear they no longer want manufacturers like Clark Foam in their area.”

If the Clark Foam factory is closed, it could disrupt surfboard production for months, force some shapers out of business, and significantly affect the retail price of surfboards as shapers scramble to find alternative sources of surfboard blanks.

Read the full report by Sean O'Brien at Transworld Surf


Surf World Shocker: Clark Foam Shuts Down

The surf world began reeling Monday afternoon, December 5, 2005 on the news that the premiere surfboard blank supplier on the planet, Clark Foam, is shutting down operations effective immediately. Clark Foam, is shutting down operations effective immediately. The gates were locked today at its Mission Viejo California headquarters. Details remain sketchy at this point, but sources at Channel Islands, Clark’s biggest account, say they received a fax today that stated Monday, December 5, 2005 would be Clark’s last day of business.

“This could be the surfboard industry’s H-Bomb,” says Randy Adler, owner and operator of Moondoggies Beach Club in San Luis Obispo, who has no fewer than 60 boards in his shop at all times. “I can’t even imagine how many people this will affect.”

“The best I’ve heard is this is Hurricane Clark,” said Sean Mattison, who manages the sale of hundreds of boards stocked at Surf Ride surf shop in Oceanside. Mattison had been fielding calls from stunned shapers all afternoon once news broke. After assessing the situation Mattison determined his first response. “We’re raising the price on all our polyester blank boards by $100 tonight, plus I’ve already bought the last bit of Al Merrick models I can get my hands on. We’re cleaning him out.”

“This is going to affect everyone,” says a stunned Bob Hurley, of Hurley International, who got his start in the industry as a shaper. “It’s pretty darn hard to make a surfboard without a blank, and these big labels are doing over a thousand boards a month. I can’t even believe this news. Are you sure it’s real? You’re not joking?” So far, this is no joke.

“This is our 9-11,” says the unnamed California shaper. “Even if somebody did try to come in and start a new company, let alone buy Clark Foam and move it out of state or over the border, unless they can keep the same team intact, that means it will be years of learning the hard way. Getting the plugs you need, making molds, pouring foam…the learning curve is a slow painful one.”

Read the full report by Chris Mauro at


World’s largest supplier of polyurethane foam surfboard blanks closes it's doors. 

The coconut wireless rumor-mill went into hyperdrive Monday afternoon when Clark Foam — far and away the world’s largest supplier of polyurethane foam surfboard blanks — announced via a seven-page fax to all its clients that the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] had ordered them to close their doors for a period of two weeks, pending further investigation. Employees were sent home and Clark’s 1,000 blank-a-day production schedule ground to a shrieking halt.

What does this mean for shapers, retailers and surfers everywhere? At this point, it’s all speculation. And we mean, A LOT of speculation. People are freaking out. On one hand, Clark might clear up their issues and return to production later this month; 10,000 blanks in the hole, but still OK. On the other hand, Grubby Clark, sole owner of Clark Foam and its patents, could throw in the towel on his long-standing battle with the EPA, effectively starting the board-building Great Depression. Can you say Black Monday?

But hold on, don’t panic just yet. Like we said......................

Read the full report by Nathan Myers at 


Clark Foam closure will pinch Hawaiian surfing biz

Hawaii's surfing community suffered a punishing blow yesterday when Clark Foam, which supplies about 80 percent of the world's foam blanks used for shaping surfboards, was shut down for environmental and fire safety violations. The closure of Clark Foam's manufacturing facility in Laguna Niguel, Calif., is expected to make surfboards more expensive to make and purchase, according to Hawaii surfboard businesses.

Clark Foam's lone Hawaii distribution center in Wahiawa also was closed, leaving three employees without jobs. Clark Foam founder Gordon Clark, who had co-developed the foam mass-production technique in 1958 and founded the company in 1961, said in a letter to business associates yesterday that the company was ceasing production and sales of surfboard blanks immediately.

Read the full report by Dave Segal at Star Bulletin

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Compiled by O'Board's Surfing News

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