Inside Mervin Manufacturing

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On a recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula, I was fortunate enough to stop by the Mervin Manufacturing facilities in Sequim, Wash.—as they call it, “The World’s Most environMENTAL Snowboard Factory.” After a brief chat with founder Mike Olson about everything from beach cruisers to a new product forthcoming for our oceans, I was treated to a tour by the one and only Norm Nelson, the man in charge of the environmental division, and returned with a collection of photos and some insight into the Mervin plant, which is pumping out close to a thousand boards per day here in the USA.

Employing local skaters, surfers and snowboarders from the Olympic Peninsula, the factory is truly an expression of Mervin’s humble roots. From warehouse to manufacturing facility to office, the compound displayed a true evolutionary lineage, with old spaces repositioned to meet growing demand over the years. From a twenty-year-old press still in use as a prototype producer to integrated snake lines and transitions, it felt more like a home-cooked business than an outsourced shipping facility, with boards in various stages of production from strips of wood to glued, pressed and tuned decks ready for market.

Through every step of the way, Norm displayed a keen interest in explaining the waste reduction and recycling techniques they employ—from sawdust recycling to bundling scrap wood as kindling, very little goes to waste at Mervin. And from soy-based, sublimated inks to glue that is allowed to dry before being removed, the level of toxicity in the air was noticeably low—it smelled like sawdust, not chemicals. Indeed, it was imminently apparent that Mervin’s environmental efforts are more than just greenwashing. Although we can’t eliminate environmental impact while making snowboards, they are certainly doing their best to reduce their impact—and that’s a step in the right direction.

After forty-five minutes or so touring the factory, the allure of a swell hitting the channel was calling our names so we said goodbye to Norm and made for the ocean. Thanks to Norm for the tour and we hope to see you again soon.


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