An Australian firm that developed a new design for polystyrene-core surfboards has been so preoccupied with selling to American customers that it only now has begun to sell them in its domestic market.
Last year, Firewire Ltd. had a staff of 17 workers manufacturing about 10 boards a week. But, since exporting its new design to the U.S., the company now has almost 90 employees and a weekly production of 400 boards.
Firewire, headquartered in the Australian east coast resort city of Gold Coast, also has a U.S. sales office in Cardiff, Calif.
In March, Firewire booked its biggest order to date - 1,400 surfboards exported to the United States.
Chief Executive Officer David Cross said Firewire's Future Shapes design disposed of the traditional stringer running down the middle of a surfboard in favor of an inch-thick parabolic balsa-wood frame on the board's perimeter.
Cross said the design and Firewire's manufacturing process, which uses multiple-density grades of expanded PS foam vacuum sealed together and laminated with fiberglass and epoxy resins, creates boards that are 20 percent lighter and five times stronger than traditional foam and fiberglass boards.
``By placing the wood core out on the rails, Firewire has transferred the bulk of the board's strength from the center to the perimeter,'' he said. ``The result is a board that weighs less than standard models, with its strength and flex memory positioned where it is needed most - on the rails.''
Cross said Firewire's output has been directed almost entirely at the U.S. market, with the first Future Shapes models going on sale in Australia only last month.
One of Firewire's designs was recognized as the surfboard model of the year at this year's Surf Industry Manufacturers' Association awards, presented in May at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Cross said the company has adopted high-tech shaping machinery that delivers greater consistency than hand-shaping and will help Firewire reach a production target of 20,000 boards a year.