While listening to the founder of Patagonia ‘Yvon Chouinard’ speak at an SIMA conference in Cabo San Lucas four years ago, Sector 9 Marketing Director EG Fratantaro was impressed with what he heard. So impressed in fact, that upon his return from the conference he immediately put into motion what can only be called ‘The Greening’ of Sector 9. Although they don’t like to be categorized as a ‘Green Company’ they are doing as much as they can, as fast as they can, to be as ‘eco friendly’ as possible. With very few exceptions, the process of building the perfect board has been turning a nice shade of green.
EG took us on a tour of the facilities late on a friday afternoon, so we were definitely introduced to a laid back group of employees that were still there ‘working’. The obligatory Primo Beers were cracked open as we were given the tour and a lesson in Skateboard Manufacturing 101.
When you walk the halls of corporate you definitely get the feeling that this is a ‘family business’. Good natured banter and jabs are thrown back and forth from the designers and young executives. Although Billabong purchased the company back in 08 along with Gullwing truck division, it had little effect on the mindset of the staff. Keepin’ it real. Real friendly. Real fun. EG says the only difference now is that they are “held accountable”. 18 people complete the office and management team with another 80 or so involved in production, shipping & product testing. No suits. Pretty much tee shirts, jeans & skate shoes seems to be the uniform of choice. There is a sweet wooden skate bowl built on site in the main building. Appropriately named ‘The Bread Bowl’, for the delicious aroma wafting thru the air from the bakery next door. We sip a beer as we watch a few riders (including EG) rip the transitions and shred the coping as if they do it everyday. Wait! They DO get to do this everyday! Nice job boys!
Definitely grown up from their humble beginnings in La Jolla that started some 15 years ago. Sector 9 is A bona-fide International company, shipping boards and gear all around the planet. Eg walked us through the many stations that it takes to produce a board. The stations include gluing, pressing, clear coat, sanding, drying. He showed off the handmade press and the the “top secret” multi press that knock out the final shapes of Sector 9 boards 4 at a time. C & C machines cut out the fine details. Drill stations drill holes, band saws cut out shapes & routers stations for shaping the rails. Sanders smooth out the final edges & wheel wells. Finally graphics & clear coat and then onto the next building across the street for final assembly and shipping.
Across the street EG points out an area of the warehouse that is usually stacked to the ceiling with the American Maple and other wood used to make their stock. “We have an 18 wheeler drop a load about once a month”. The spot only held a few pallets today, which translates to: They make a lot of boards! We continue to tour through a rainbow of colors. Wheels, decks, shiny trucks and bearings. Organized in huge rows of shelves and stacked to the ceilings. All moving methodically toward the back doors and final station, Shipping. UPS trucks show up each day and ship the Sector 9 boards to destinations all around the globe.
I had no idea there were so many steps involved in the construction of a skateboard. I mean I have spent hundreds of hours assembling the many skateboards I have owned over the years, but I never really LOOKED at the board. I now have a new found respect and will not take for granted the board below my feet again. EG and the crew at Sector 9 are dedicated to turning as many aspects of their business green. Here is just a partial list of steps taken to make Sector 9 an ‘Eco Friendly’ company.
80% of their products are made in the USA
The electricity they use is bought from wind power.
They recycle cans, glass, paper, all wood scraps, old wheels and boards, cardboard.
They run an Excursion team vehicle on re-used oil from Wahoos fish tacos.
They replace our bulbs with fluorescent and motion detectors.
Their T-shirts are made from organic cotton.
Hats and beanies made are from recycled PET (plastic bottles )
They have awesome sweatshirts made from hemp.
Some of the shirts are half organic cotton half PET.
They make 100% bamboo boards. An alternative to maple and a very renewable resource.
They make skate wheels that are half soy urethane.
They even make socks and wristbands from T-shirt scraps.
As EG reminds us, every little bit helps. You dont need to change everything at once just do what you can when you can. They continue to look for other ways to further their path to Greenness including an eco friendly glue, biodegradable or renewable resources and materials and the use of Bio Diesel in their personal rides as well as company vehicles. The expense of going completely green can be extensive. If you take small steps you will eventually find yourself well on the way to helping our planet, helping yourself and helping future generations.