Britt Merrick, Dane Reynolds, The Gudangs And Employees Buy Back Channel Islands Surfboards - Stab Mag

How Surfers Get Paid will drop at 6pm on Friday September 30

787 Views

Britt Merrick, Dane Reynolds, The Gudangs And Employees Buy Back Channel Islands Surfboards

After 14 years with Burton, CI is coming home.

news // Dec 11, 2020
Words by Sam Mcintosh
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Back in 2006, Burton snowboards acquired Channel Islands surfboards from revered master craftsman, Al Merrick. Early next year, the brand’s ownership will return to Carpinteria after the sale is closed by Al’s son, Britt, Dane Reynolds, the Gudauskas brothers, and a bunch of CI employees.  

While the sale figure is unknown, rumors have circulated that the purchase price was around $6m and the major shareholder is Britt Merrick, who will also serve as CEO.     

“For my family and all of us at Burton, this is a very happy ending to Burton’s chapter in the Channel Islands Surfboards’ history,” said Donna Carpenter, widow of iconic snowboarder and Burton founder, Jake Burton. Jake sadly died 12 months ago after complications with cancer. According to insiders, Jake was the driving force behind the CI acquisition due to his love of surfing. Since his death and despite the best-in-a-year performance of CI, Burton wanted to focus on Burton’s core competence of snowboarding as opposed to surfing. Reports have detailed the split as being amicable with insiders detailing Burton had always hoped the business would end up back in the hands of the Merricks.

Mergers and acquisitions are tricky. There are some flawless case studies, like Facebook buying Instagram, but historically, 70% to 90% of acquisitions don’t work. We’d know. We sold Stab sold to the publicly-listed SurfStitch in 2015. By the end of 2017, the Stab can had been kicked back across the fence and told not to come back. The regular paycheque and not having the anxiety created by money washing in and out is one of the great draws of selling (not to mention enjoying a “liquidity event”), but in our experience, as wonderful as the company was, being placed into a new business can make you feel like a domesticated animal. The energy of a buyback can give you that startup chemistry once again, which can only be a good thing for CI.   

The most reflexive assumption to Burton unloading CI would be that the business was bleeding cash. According to management, Channel Islands is in the midst of its most profitable year in over a decade. Like being in the game of camping, cycling, and the outdoors, 2020 has been an outstanding year of business for board builders. As they have in the past, the brand will continue to make every board locally, as they haven’t closed shop to centralise all production in Asia.    

The most interesting part of this acquisition is the inclusion of the surfers as shareholders. 

We’ve seen varying degrees of surfer influence on the success of apparel brands. Would Quiksilver, Billabong, and Rip Curl have been the juggernauts of yesteryear without their heavily-stacked team rosters? Maybe, maybe not. Even Hurley’s $8m a year squadron of superpilots couldn’t guarantee them success. And, you’d think the commercial success of Dane Reynolds’ and Kelly Slater’s apparel brands would be flying given their influence. 

With hardware, it’s more clear-cut. Surfer validation is a mark of a brand’s success and this move is an inspired one. We will have a detailed breakdown shortly on which surfers invested.   

CI also believes this has been part of their special sauce. The press release reads:

The driving force behind the brand’s success is greatly attributed to its star-studded team of surfers that worked closely with them to create and build the world’s best surf- boards designed to help them win competitions and world championships. Over the past four decades, Channel Islands Surfboards has helped surfers like Kelly Slater, Tom Cur- ren, Lisa Anderson, Kim Mearig, Adriano De Souza, and Sofia Mulánovich earn a combined total of 20 World Champion titles. Today, surfers such as Dane Reynolds, Lakey Peterson, Mikey February, Parker Coffin, Sage Erickson, Bobby Martinez, the Gudauskas brothers, Yadin Nicol, Eithan Osborne, and many more continue to build on that legacy, with another wave of young talents like Taj Lindblad, Alyssa Spencer and Luke Swanson right behind them looking poised to help Channel Islands deliver even bigger things in the years to come. 

Although there is a lot of competition for that top position in the surfboard market, a reader survey conducted by Stab last month named Channel Islands Surfboards as their favorite board brand of 2020. Additionally, Channel Islands is in the midst of one of its most profitable years in over a decade thanks to popular designs like the FishBeard, Happy and Rocket Wide—as well as a next-level flex technology known as Spine-Tek. 

“I literally grew up in my mom and dad’s surfboard factory, and was there to see how hard they and their whole family of employees worked to make Channel Islands one of the most highly regarded board builders in the world,” recalls CI Surfboards new CEO Britt Merrick. “When Burton partnered with us, they provided an incredible amount of support and shared their knowledge, which ultimately helped us to keep building the best boards possible right here at home in Carpinteria, California. This opportunity to take over ownership with my life-long friends that work here as well as having co-ownership with many of our top team riders is a dream come true for me and has us all super pumped for what the future holds.” 

According to the release, the transaction from Burton Snowboards to CI Surfboards LLC is expected to be complete by early 2021, subject to customary closing conditions. All employees and surf team contracts will remain. 

Whether it’s the rationalisation of an amicable and fair sale, the businesses not being taken over by private equity or being unloaded in a firesale, or a trend of surfers themselves becoming owners of more surf brands, this story has a really good feel to it. 

Stab wishes the team well and hopes The Merricks have enjoyed 14 years of uninterrupted sleep. Small biz is tricky and we certainly can’t predict the same in the future. 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach 

Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.

Sep 29, 2022

12:31

You’re Gonna Click On A New Oscar Langburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022

5:07

Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022

Former CT Surfer Chris Davidson Passes Away At Age 45

A radical life tragically ends outside a bar in New South Wales.

Sep 25, 2022

Where You Should Be In Europe Right Now

An overview of the region's greatest hits.

Sep 25, 2022

The Team Ukraine Interview

“There are mines near the shore, and already a lot of people have died…so it’s…

Sep 24, 2022

Mormaii Founder Raided By Brazilian Feds On Suspicion Of Plotting Against Democracy

Curiously, he's the second surf brand founder to become entangled in a political scandal of…

Sep 24, 2022

The Electric Acid Surfboard Test With Mick Fanning, Episode 4

There are three boards left. Which one is Mick taking home?

Sep 23, 2022

Watch: Tresha

The Bella Kenworthy Edit.

Sep 22, 2022

Photos: Welcome To Vans Stab High Indonesia, Presented By Monster Energy

Welcome to Lakey Peak. Now do airs.

Sep 22, 2022

5:27

Taro Watanabe Is The Love Child Of Your Favorite 80’s Surfers

Watch his new edit 'Sonic Youth' now.

Sep 22, 2022

The Four-Finned, Carbon-Wrapped, Vacuum-Bagged Board That Won The 2022 World Title 

The minds behind Sharp Eye and Dark Arts break down Filipe's winning plank.

Sep 22, 2022
Advertisement