The Oakley O Lab crew goes Bananas!
As the “Own the Mountain” Rev Tour moves into full force, it leads us into one of my favorite places to ride, the Northwest. Our stop this time was in Seattle. While we had a few days off, our friends out at Mervin Manufacturing invited us out for a rarely given private tour of their manufacturing facility in Sequim, WA. Mervin, if you didn’t know already, is the last major manufacturer of snowboards in the USâ€¦or as they like to say, “Made near Canada”. At their facility, they proudly make Lib Tech and GNU snowboards, two names synonymous with snowboarding.
After getting the okay to come out from my good friend, Matt " Banshee " Olson, we boarded a ferry to head out across the Puget Sound to Kingston, and drive the rest of the way to Sequim. As we pull up, the first thing we see is the old Celica from Travis Rice’s movie “That’s It, That’s All” out front, still suffering from some minor tree damage. We continue around back to the warehouse to find Dave Mounts and his shipping crew skating a freshly built ramp to wall ride, I must say not much has changed since the last time I was at Mervin and as they say here, “there’s a time to work and a time to play.” After watching Dirty Al land a crail grab off the wall, we headed into the factory to start the tour.
Mervin, a lot like Oakley, has been the leader in new technology for their niche in the industry. In the last few years, Lib Tech has developed Magna Traction, their “cutting edge” edge technology as well as Banana Tech. Banana Tech works on the basis of reverse camber, so now you are working with the physics of the board instead of against them. Mervin was the winner of “Innovation of the Year” in 2007 by SIA Snowpress for their introduction of the Banana to the snowboard world. On the tour they showed us how they hand shape their edges, how they lay up and press boards to create the Banana technology and stacks of boards waiting to be shaped by their skilled craftsman. It was really amazing to see a board being made from start to finish, beginning with planks of wood and ending with the final product in plastic, especially from a company that produces boards like no other. We ended the tour with a walk through of quality control and stopping off to say “HI” to Shag in the skate division.
Before we left we took a walk through the Altered Genetics forest with Pete Sari as he told us about his newest inventions for Lib-Tech and GNU in the years to come and took a look at Paul Ferrel’s latest Bent Metal Binders proto types. Both the conversation with Pete and Paul’s new binders showed us there are a lot of great things still being produced at Mervin Manufacturing!
We would like to give a BIG THANKS to Pete Saari and Mike Olson, also Banshee, Jeff Kempf, Dave “Mounty” Mounts, Huntz, Cobb " the Mad Scientist ", Dirty Al and everyone else out at Mervin Mfg. Thanks for our “upside down” snowboards!