Showing posts with label Surf Industry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surf Industry. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Surf Industry Veteran forced out by cheap imports

After 42 years making surfboards, original Emerald Surfboards founder Steve Griffiths is forced to quit the industry - why?

 Blackwidow Surfboards owner Steve Griffiths says Chinese imports are forcing local board makers out of the industry. Picture: Robyne Cuerel. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld) - Feb 2011.
Sunshine Coast, Qld: Ex-Cronulla surfer, master surfboard craftsman and the original founder of Emerald Surfboards, Steve Griffiths has been forced out the industry he loves.

Cronulla surf icon, Steve Griffiths started shaping surfboards at Gordon & Smith in Taren Point in 1972 and went on to found Emerald Surfboards in Taren Point in 1978. He sold the Emerald business in 1982 and moved to Queensland's Sunshine Coast to manufacture Black Widow custom surfboards.

Here's the story courtesy of the Queensland Sunday Mail: Australia's iconic surfboard makers are giving up after a futile battle against cheap mass-produced Asian imports.

After 42-years in the industry, craftsmen like Steve Griffiths, from the Sunshine Coast, are closing their factory doors. An influx from China and Thailand in the last five years made it hard to etch a living, but the last year has been killer.

Mr Griffiths has posted a "For Lease" sign outside his Warana factory, Black Widow Surfboards, and may try medicine cabinet making. Industry insiders have warned this scenario is being repeated across the country also because of an economic slowdown.

Mr Griffiths said Australia was losing more than just locally made surfboards. "The thing with China and Thailand is there will be no innovation, only copying," said Mr Griffiths.

"All the innovation from guys who shaped boards in their backyards, and made boards better and tried new styles, all that will be gone." Surf shops are making huge profits on imported boards because of the massive mark up.

Mr Griffiths said a Chinese longboard was imported for about $300 and sold for about $1100 - an $800 profit. But the Australia version cost about $1000 to make and retailed between $1200 and $1400 - only a maximum $400 profit.

"The only reason people go to Asia is to make more money. You don't go there for a better product," said Gold Coast materials supplier Darren Burford. "(But) the end user doesn't see the better price. It's the guy selling it that gets more money."

Surf shop owner Neil Raaschou makes a point of supporting local craftsmen and stocks 90 per cent Aussie boards in his four stores. However Mr Raaschou does sell quality Asian-made beginner boards, like mini mals, because of customer demand.

"It does serve a purpose. Generally the beginner and novice market is driven by price because they don't want to fork out a lot of money," he said.

As a consoling tribute to Steve Griffith's years of fine craftsmanship and creativity, collectable Emerald Surfboards in good condition, bring high prices at surf swap meets and surf auctions across the nation.