Teaching surfers how to shape, glass, sand and design surfboards. The history of Greenlight Surf Supply Years 2005-2015
Greenlight Surf Supply was founded in 2005 from Brian Gagliana's Philadelphia, PA garage shortly after the world's monopolizing surfboard foam blank manufacturer, Clark Foam, closed its' doors. Brian had been developing EPS surfboard foam cores, bamboo stringers, bamboo fiberglass, and new surfboard building techniques for 2 years prior. The early stages of Greenlight's growth was based on the popular "eco-friendly" marketing and innovative solutions to a 50 year stagnation in surfboard building materials and techniques. Brian also openly shared how-to-build-surfboards-at-home information to surfers via video and offered phone and email support to his customers. At the time surfboard building techniques were for the most part held in secrecy by those who suffered through the trial and error learning curve of building surfboards. Only those who were lucky enough to be invited into a shaper's room could learn how to shape surfboards until Greenlight distributed that knowledge through the internet.
Greenlight Surf Supply quiickly gained recognition as the leader in eco-friendly surfboard materials, education, and specialty tools, and branded as such. A handful of magazine articles and mentions in popular surfing magazines in the US and Europe provided steady growth for the new business.
In 2007 Brian moved the business into a 900 sqft warehouse in Philadelphia PA, manufacturing and distributing his eco-friendly surfboard materials domestically. In short time distributorships were formed in Europe and Australia, based on Brian's new bio-plastic leash plugs (the first non-petroleum based plastic accessory in surfboards) and innovative shaping tools. Noticing a reluctance for the surfboard industry to fully adopt "green" materials, Brian invested in adding conventional surfboard building materials to Greenlight's catalog. Polyurethane blanks, polyester resin, fiberglass, and accessories were added to the product offerings from the major hardware brands the industry.
The addition of conventional materials proved to be a great move and Greenlight quickly grew in sales over the internet and surfers from Maryland to Maine and Canada took the trek to Philadelphia to buy surfboard building materials.
In 2010, Brian opened a retail shop in Belmar, NJ which had a shaping room in the back and began teaching surfers how to shape boards one-on-one and added The surfboard Shaping Mentor Program to the business model.
Through small online advertising campaigns and word of mouth, surfers learned surfboard building materials were conveniently available in NJ and Greenlight quickly outgrew the 600 sqft retail shop and moved into a 5000 sqft location in Manasquan, NJ. Shortly after the shop opened in Manasquan, Brian partnered with Matt Henderson who brought his sales and management experience to increase business growth and relieve Brian from some of the chaos.
In Oct. 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore area and greatly affected both the local economy and environment causing surfing in the area to stop altogether. Greenlight's shop was damaged and the business basically went with the storm. But continued hard work, smart choices, and determination to make a positive impact on surfing proved to stabilize the business through tough financial times and by summer '12 we were back to business-as-usual.
Another positive from the Hurricane Sandy experience was the realization to diversify the business through similar watersport markets. Matt and Brian partnered up again and opened The Stand Up Paddle Place LLC, a subsidiary of Greenlight. The Stand Up Paddle Place is the largest SUP retail and rental business in New Jersery, and is recognized as the top service in the local market (Great customer service is in our blood)
Furthering Greenlight's diversification in the Surf / SUP world, The East Coast Surfboard Factory LLC was established in 2014 and manufactures custom surfboards and stand up paddleboards. Keeping with Greenlight's core principles of innovation, environmental consciousness, and superior customer service, the ECSF is currently developing new surfboard and SUP construction methods to reduce labor, cost and air pollutants while increasing product throughput in the factory.
In summer of 2014 Greenlight acquired an additional 2700 sqft of warehouse and manufacturing space to expand it's surfboard blank manufacturing operations and warehousing space. With our engineering backgrounds, we built a 14' long CNC hotwire cutter to cut EPS surfboard and Stand Up Paddleboard blanks to make Greenlight the only direct-from-factory EPS blank supplier on the East Coast.
As a side "fun" project, we built a custom CNC machine from a low cost used frame and added high power and high accuracy components and control systems to the machine. This machine produces the most impressive surfboard shape cuts in the industry. But, the machine is not simply a surfboard shaping machine - it's a real CNC machine that can shape surfboards, and much much more. Building the machine was a 16 month long process of experimentation and refinement (which still continues).
Through combining vision, determination, hard work, engineering and technology over the past decade, Greenlight has set it self up to unleash some "back to basics" concepts for surfers achieve a deeper connection with the true spirit of surfing by designing and shaping their own surfboards.
What will, the next 10 years bring? Whatever it is, Greenlight will be there...