A Visit to the Mervin Manufacturing Vortex

Tucked behind the lushest green curtain, surrounded by towering white peaks and fine lefthand barrels, lies an enchanted land of chill. Here, radical gnomes build the most technologically awesome, environmentally-friendly snowboards on the planet, and rip them on the nearby slopes. This magical scenario, it turns out, is the secret to Mervin Manufacturing.

We recently visited the Mervin vortex (its factory), having been invited in by the kind Barrett Christy-Cummins, whose surname basically means Mervin. Her office demonstrated the roots and radness of Lib Tech and Gnu. On a shelf sat the original black-and-white drawing for the Matt Cummins VW surf van graphic. On a bookcase rested Barrett’s First Place trophy for the Baker Banked Slalom. And against the wall stood a few stacks of boards from next year’s line-up, their non-twin-tipped shapes and artful graphics screaming with style, begging for shred. Relics of the old days of snowboarding lay everywhere in the little wooden office building, while the latest spawning of Mervin boards was underway across the parking lot.

Old-school Mervin employee Tim Stanford showed us around the snowboard factory, where they also make skateboards and other things. Skateboarding keeps Mervin going, in fact. The first Lib Tech was actually a skateboard, Tim told us. As we talked in the sun before entering the gnomes’ secret workshop, snowboard builders skated back and forth, en route somewhere, or carrying a garbage can full of recyclable scraps, or to session the curb and wavy skate feature. Yes, our own people make Mervin boards, far from industrial complexes where non-shredders pop out toxic snowboards.

The entire fabrication process takes place here. Lengths of quick-growing, domestic and sustainably-harvested (FSC) wood get pressed and cut into profiled snowboard cores, then laid up (sandwiched between top sheet and base), then waxed and sharpened, and finally approved for quality. Meanwhile, different work areas play the kind of hip hop and whatnot we’d listen to, and guys chat or do 360 flips. You could almost crack a beer or light a spliff and hang out.

Most impressive, though, is Mervin’s commitment to what provides us with snow and surf to enjoy in the first place, the Earth. Not only do they efficiently use wood and recycle the leftovers, they also choose soy-based plastics over petrochemicals, and print their graphics with water-based ink. Lib and Gnu boards have always been fashioned in a respectful way, Tim affirmed. Innovators in snowboard sustainability and performance, Mervin Manufacturing has done things right ever since they turned the doily bottom of grandma’s curtain into a flower-patterned topsheet. To learn more, check: http://www.mervin.com/enviromental/

Great snowboards can only come from a place like this, from stoked humans and enchanted forest gnomes who ride the sideways craft they create. Having raised names like Matt and Temple Cummins, Emma Peel, Barrett Christy, the Litigator, and Jamie Lynn, it’s good to know that Mervin Manufacturing has stayed hardcore.

Daniel O'Neil