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December 07, 2005

Surf's Not Up

Today's LAT reports that Gordon "Grubby" Clark, the owner and founder of Clark Foam, which manufactures the foam blanks used to make two thirds of US surfboards, is closing down, citing regulatory problems. This shutdown is expected to disrupt the businesses of hundreds of small surfboard shapers throughout the country.

Hank Byzak, owner of Pure Fun Longboards, a surfboard producer in Encinitas, Calif., said Clark Foam's sudden shutdown was "like an earthquake happened and we're all victims."

"If we have no raw materials to work with, none of us have a job anymore," he said.

Clark did not return calls seeking comment. But in his letter he portrayed himself as a businessman being run out of town by state, federal and county regulators. He claimed that the Orange County Fire Authority took a "very tough line and added extra regulation that could be focused on closing Clark Foam."

And Clark said his company was beset by allegations of unsafe practices.

"We have three ex-employees on full workman's compensation disability — evidently for life," he said. "There is another claim being made by the widow of an employee who died from cancer."

According to the claim, Clark said, chemicals at Clark Foam caused the cancer. "A few years ago we had one of those horror stories one hears about lawyers," his letter stated. "Almost $400,000.00 in lawyers fees and the ex-employee suing Clark Foam got $17,000.00 The judge in the lawsuit advised me, 'This is just a cost of doing business (in California).' "

More on the story from surfing industry (?!) trade magazines:

December 7, 2005 at 07:22 AM | Permalink


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