After the coast of Fujian, Nicely Made in China takes you to the South China Sea to meet Adam Healy one of the two owners of Benpat International. Based in Shek-O on the South-East coast of Hong Kong Island, Benpat makes quality surfboards -as well as kiteboards, skateboards, nipper boards and stand-up paddle boards- all made in China and sells them all over the world. Adam, 26, is Australian and was raised in Hong Kong. He sat with NMiC and explained how surfboards are made.
Adam, can you give us some information about your company?
Benpat International was created in 1990 by John Patkin and I came onboard in 2008. Most of our production is for exports, mainly to Australia, the UK and the US.
How do you make an Ark surfboard?
Our surfboards are made of polyurethane foam Blanks-PU foam for short-. They are custom-made boards and are hand-shaped and fiber-glassed in a factory in Guangdong, which we’ve been working with for 15 years. We import what is called blanks from Australia from a couple of providers in the Gold coast and Sydney. We’ve tried blanks from other parts of the world but found the best ones are made in Australia. Those providers have got the mix of chemicals just right. All the boards are shaped according to our clients specifications to exact measurements. The finishing touch is a sand or polish-finished. About 20% or 30% of the blank is lost in the process when the boards are shaped. We also make carbon fiber surfboards. Carbon is a more rigid and stronger but also very expensive.
How are logos applied on the boards?
The logos are either spray-painted or printed on rice paper, a process which is now very popular. With rice paper we print directly on the paper which means we can print anything in a more accurate manner: any kind of drawing but also pictures which are not possible with spray-painting.
How much does a board cost?
Boards in the 6ft range cost between US$ 150-200 (€ 115-154 / AU$ 167-223 / 1,017-1356 Rmb / 96-128 £) and in the 12ft range cost around US$ 400 (€ 307 / AU$ 446 / 2713 Rmb / 256 £). The carbon fiber surfboards cost about US$ 1200 (€934 / AU$ 1340 / 8135 Rmb / HK$ 9320 / 767 £ – July 28th 2010)
How can NMiC readers buy your boards?
We work with distributors in the US, Australia (Midcoast Surf shop), the UK (Loose-Fit Surf shop) and New-Zealand (Hectic Global Sports) as well as retailers so we don’t sell to individuals outside of Hong Kong. For those who are interested in buying our brand they can contact our distributors in their respective countries.
Regarding individual buyers as I said we can sell to the local community in Hong Kong. Visits to our showroom in Shek-O can be arranged by appointments only.