Handcrafted Near Canada: A tour through Mervin Manufacturing
As we wind our way along the evergreen-lined highway and through the city of Sequim, WA, we’re on the lookout for Banana Way. We’re heading to Mervin Manufacturing for a factory tour. When we arrive there’s a cedar building on the left, a modest looking factory on the right and a half dozen large recycling bins straight ahead. We’re greeted by scruffy, denim clad guys all wearing hats—these are the masterminds behind such technologies as Banana and Magne-traction.
Before the tour, we join the Mervin crew and legendary shredder Temple Cummins for lunch. Over burgers, the guys discuss the board that Temple gives input on. The beauty of having a full-fledged factory in the U.S., rather than overseas, is that Temp’s board (which didn’t exist the day before we had lunch) could go from concept to a rideable prototype in just a few days.
Back at the factory, head of the EnvironMENTAL Division, Norm Nelson, gives us a detailed tour. 750 Lib Tech, GNU and Roxy snowboards are handcrafted in the facility every day. As you walk through the factory you can see every step of production from the bases being cut out in pre-production to the cores being milled and put together on site. Later, steps include massive inkjet printers, which roll out graphics and boards being stickered and zipped into bags before they are shipped off to retailers. In addition to building its boards on the premises, Mervin’s crew actually invented the processes and tooling used to make them. This allows them to tweak the manufacturing process where needed so that it is as efficient as possible.
As we observe the boards being built, Norm also explains the eco-conscious practices that he and co-founder Mike Olson have implemented. Mervin recycles seven tons of sidewall material alone each month and uses every piece of core that is one foot or bigger. The smaller pieces of wood get bundled and given to employees for kindling. These are just two examples of practices that are in place, but there are many more and Mervin is always looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint.
Given the opportunity, every snowboarder should see how a board is made, and as the brand slogan goes: “Know who made your board.”