Burton Snowboards Acquires Channel Islands Surfboards – An Interview with Al Merrick

Nike bought Hurley. Warnico bought OP. VF Corp bought Reef. And now — just yesterday, in fact (6/29/06) — Burton Snowboards bought Channel Islands surfboards. We must not jump to paranoid conspiracy-theory conclusions about the signs of the Apocalypse and One World Government -- these things happen. It's just a matter of progress and opportunity. You simply can't backyard shape forever. And if you look at the ownership and philosophies behind these two hardcore boarding companies, you might see that it's actually a match made in heaven. Burton founder Jake Burton even conducted some of his negotiations with Merrick in the lineup. "Spending time with Al was cool," says Burton, "but you learn a lot more about someone when you go for a surf together. That's when I started to understand the soul of Channel Islands. I look forward to providing a home for Channel Islands for many years to come." SURFING caught up briefly with the very busy Mr. Merrick to find out what this merger meant for Channel Islands customers.

SURFING MAGAZINE: Channel Islands has always been a very independent company; what is the motivation behind CI joining forces with Burton now?

AL MERRICK: My motivation is to allow Channel Islands to go to the next level as a hardcore surfboard company.

SURFING MAGAZINE: What does Burton bring to the table in a merge like this? Is it capital and distribution? Or does it have anything to do with technology and design?

AL MERRICK: Burton brings so much to the table. Their International network is very strong and they will make new resources available to us, but they also share that same desire to explore new technologies allowing Channel Islands to continue building the best surfboards in the world.

SURFING MAGAZINE: What sort of changes can we expect to see in the future from CI based on this merge?

AL MERRICK: We will be expanding our facilities, improving our custom delivery time and expanding our international influence. We will work more closely with the team, gathering their input and ideas to continue to make the best boards in the world. We will also be exploring new technologies and will improve on existing ones.

SURFING MAGAZINE: How does this change immediately affect the loyal CI surfboard consumer?

AL MERRICK: The consumer shouldn't see an immediate change. I, in addition to all of my employees, will continue to work here at Channel Islands Surfboards. We will continue to operate out of Santa Barbara -- the same town where I started Channel Islands in 1969. We will strive to bring you better service, availability and the best surfboards in the world.