A Sparks water sports company is fine-tuning a new manufacturing process at a facility in China that its founder hopes will be a template for its future Northern Nevada operations.
Open Air Dynamics president Nate Brouwer said he purchased — with the backing of an unnamed investor — a factory in Shenzhen, China. There, the company’s standup paddleboard processes are being streamlined to eliminate lengthy production cycles.
Also, the company is trying out a cleaner, eco-friendly process that greatly reduced the amount of consumables in production.
“Paddleboards are built like surfboards with foam and fiberglass,” Brouwuer said. “It is a very dirty way to build a board,” he said.
“We got rid of the old traditional composite materials,” he said of the company’s newer materials being used at the 30,000-square-foot production facility, which employs 30 workers.
After having a special machine built in China, Open Air reduced production time for building a paddleboard from 45 hours to five hours.
Brouwer said he’s also doing contract manufacturing for other companies making a space in the water sports industry.
“It’s amazing to watch materials come in to the facility and go out the same day,” said Brouwer, just back from spending five months in Asia.
With the China factory cranking out boards, Brouwer is forecasting 20 percent growth for Open Air in 2015.
The Sparks facility employs a half dozen people, but Brouwer predicts that the China factory will serve as a model for future expansion in the Silver State.
“Once we gear up, we can create 30 to 40 new manufacturing jobs in the Reno-Sparks area,” he said of the portability of the technology. “It’s very important for us to continue down the path of bringing production back onshore.
“We understand the value the consumer would place in knowing that the boards were made in the U.S.A.”
Founded in 2009, Brouwer said sales are transacted by Open Air’s online store and through retail partners like Sports Chalet and West Marine.
The company also supplies product to six dealers around Lake Tahoe, where about 60 percent of its sales have taken place.
The company’s founder said the goal is to build 20,000 units in the next year “so we can go after the big box guys” as potential vendors.