My opinon. I dont see the waves or surf lifestlye in Indonesia as being any sort of reason to manufacture there. Quite the opposite! While you are surfing, you're not building quality boards. Nev has mentioned in his Youtube videos that our manufacturing process is very different and the need to have a "surfer" finish a board is unnecessary. Firewire has an extensive R and D and testing program through a variety of options such as team/test riders who travel the globe and put the boards in all sorts of different waves (including Indo), also inhouse R and D around things like strength via break testing etc. Believe me, having the factory near quality surf would do nothing to help me keep Nev focused when he comes over to visit our factory!
I also dont think that the expertise of other surfboard manufacturers such as GSI being located in Thailand has any sort of large impact as to why Firewire's are manufactured in Thailand. They are a totally seperate company and Firewire does'nt utilize the skill sets of GSI to help out in the manufacturing of our boards. Again, I think the opposite as I know both companies have responsibilites to investors to protect their IP. Definitely being in the same country as some very large manufacturers has an impact as to availability of raw materials from suppliers etc but not really any sort of cross over of expertise being shared between companies. Again, quite the opposite.
It has been mentioned many times by Mark and co that the amount of labor involved in the manufacturing process of building a FW board made it impossible to survive if the manufacturing stayed in Aus or the US. This and Nev having contacts with Thai partners at the time was the reason behind the decision to set up our own factory in Thailand that is run and managed by western managers, along with a team of very talented thai staff.
As a guy who has seen and heard every "thailand quality is shit" story out there, I have to say that people are so wrong when they jump on the bash Thailand band wagon, particularly when they more than likely have never set foot inside our factory here. I've seen manufacturing of boards in both regions and am not about to kick off an us and them debate but do want to say that the attention to detail, ability to focus more eyes on quality and the willingness to adapt to change by the team here is a large reason for the success of Firewire. Globally, Firewire has an incredibly talented group of staff and the chemistry and dedication that this group puts into work every day is something that I think a lot of other companies would be extremely envious of.
Saying all of this, I do agree that more staff surf trips to Indonesia would be a great thing!
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