By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 11 April, 2018

Skunkworks Surfboard Co are aiming to become waste free by 2020. The surfing brothers are inviting people to join their journey, which will take their business to the next stage, through a Crowdcube campaign. Here’s the full story.

TWO brothers who are manufacturing ‘next generation’ surfboards have announced their plans to become waste free by 2020 and are inviting people all over the world to join them on their journey to the next stage through a Crowdcube campaign.

Ricky and Chris Martin, who made the headlines globally in 2016 for their revolutionary design surfboards during the Voom Pitch To Rich competition, say it is their mission to become waste free by 2020.

The Portrush brothers are inviting people  to become part of the Skunkworks story by investing in their eco friendly surfboards through the  Crowdcube campaign which has gone live today.

Their ground breaking solution and prototype, which decreases the wear and tear of ‘foamies’ has caught the attention of billionaire tycoon Richard Branson, global investors and Jaguar Landrover – who partner with Skunkworks for the Waste To Wave Campaign.

Speaking on their waste free targets and Crowdcube campaign, Ricky said: “Becoming waste free by 2020 is hugely important to us. It would have been easy for us to go to China and take advantage of cheap materials and cheap labour but we insisted we wanted to create a company which manufactures our surfboards on the North Coast.

“We wanted to grow employment in the area, offer decent salaries with good job prospects and offer the Skunkworks team  the ability to grow as the company grows. There’s so much interest globally in what we are doing so we want people to join us on our journey.”

The ambitious brothers came up with the idea in Ricky’s garage when the pair were mending damaged foam boards for Alive Surf School.

Ricky said: “This was the single biggest expense of the business so we knew there had to be a better way, because, if Alive Surf School had to deal with this problem, surf schools around the world were also dealing with this problem.

“After two years of research and development we developed a patent pending, heat bonding technology that completely eliminates the use of adhesives. The bonds on our boards are one of the strongest elements – not the weakest.”

After pitching to Richard Branson, and coming second out of 900 businesses UK wide, the brothers attracted £500,000 from early stage investors and moved into a 16,000 sqft factory in Coleraine. They hired a team of experts and are now manufacturing with built custom machinery.

Andrew and Jillian Marsden, who are early stage investors, are supporting the team in the next stage of investment.

Andrew said: “We are early stage investors because we were able to see the revolutionary product Ricky and Chris were able to create with limited resources available to them. We believe this next stage of investment will propel them onto the global stage and make it a global brand.”

Patrick Hurst MBE, also an investor, and MD of a global leisure marine company before successfully exiting  in 2014, said: “If someone said  to me ‘what is the vision for Skunkworks’ – it’s simple – let’s have a Skunkworks surfboard, all the accessories, in every surf school and surf shop in the world.”

David Anderson, Head Engineer, said: “In 2017, we trained our team, developed our processes, streamlined our manufacturing and have developed world class products.

“The feedback from our customers is that there’s a desire to bring manufacturing back here where there is accountability, traceability and a high level of workmanship. Our boards are hand crafted in Northern Ireland. We work closely with our customers and our suppliers to ensure we are as reactive to feedback as possible. That’s why we insist on 100 per cent control of the process.

“In 2018 we are tripling production to produce more than 4,000 boards in our factory. We are focused on waste free manufacturing by 2020. Our decision making process has always centred around our commitment to the environment. Our collaboration with Jaguar Landrover pioneered new ways to reuse waste materials creating the next evolution in surfboards.

Ashley Douglas, Sales and Marketing Manager, added: “Last year we shipped over 600 boards to surf schools through Europe and further afield. They’re being used in Norway, France, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, the UK and Ireland. We aim to multiply that figure by six this year and build  long term relationships with our customers.”

To get involved in the Skunkworks journey by investing in eco friendly surfboards, which are revolutionising the surf industry, click crowdcube.com/skunkworks

Skunkworks-waste free campaign

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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps. Eleanor is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) at Associate Level