Surfboard Industry: from Local Craftsmen to a Global Industry
On December 5, 2005, Gordon "Grubby" Clark announced in a 7-page fax to his clients the world
over that he would close his only polyurethane foam blank (raw material for surfboard building) factory in California the same day. This news came as a major shock to craftsmen shapers around the world since Clark Foam satisfied over two thirds of the global demand for foam blanks and had been the only supplier for American shapers for decades. The singular situation characterizing this industry
caused the news to make waves outside surfing industry microcosm. Financial news media picked up
the story, attracting the attention of investors who saw a fantastic business opportunity in the sector. At
the same time, Asian manufacturers, essentially from China, emerged, offering products at competitive
prices and playing into the game of surf shops looking for products at low costs (under private labels) so as to reestablish their profit margins on this type of product. This case study describes changes that have occurred in the surfboard industry and underscores the market's structure, which is now split between local craftsmen and global companies. It illustrates how the surfboard industry and local shapers have been shaken by the democratization of extreme sports, by technological and environmental constraints, and by the market globalization.
The Board Sports Market
The Board Sports Market The board sports market generates €15 billion per year and experienced a
double-digit growth rate before the economic crisis. Businesses in this sector are located at three points on the planet: the Californian coast, the Australian Gold Coast and the Basco-Landaise coast (South West of France). The United States is the top market for board sports and counts for almost a third of the global market, but Europe is experiencing the strongest growth, at a near 10% growth per annum in the early 2000s....