There are always two sides to every story...You probably saw the pair of wood surfboards we built for the Maui Jim Invitational Basketball Tournament. You may have even heard Jay Bilas and Bill Walton talking about their beauty on ESPN during the Iowa State vs San Diego game. However, what you didn’t hear or see is was the behind the scenes production of the boards worth a combined thirty thousand dollars and the insane journey on how we got them to Hawaii. So let me tell you how it all happened.
The journey began with a random email in July from one of our loyal wood suppliers, Hi Tech Veneer: “Hey wouldn't it be cool if you built some custom wood surfboards for the Maui Invitational in November?” Not really knowing much about the details, I responded, “Sure lets do it.” Well, 78 emails later (Yes, I counted), and we had a deal. The mandate was simple: build the most epic wood surfboards that you can using every participating teams logo. One of the surfboards would go to Maui Jim for their office, while the other would be raffled off to benefit those affected by the recent flooding in Hawaii and the Maui Food Bank.
Fast forward to mid October, we were still collecting and finalizing all of the graphics when we get an email from the logistics company that said, “Can we come pick up the wooden surfboards tomorrow?” Given that we were still waiting on approval of the design, the boards clearly were not done yet. Before I could process the whole thing, I had personally signed up to fly with the boards as my “checked luggage” to Hawaii.
Once the final approval of the design was granted, the Jarvis Boards crew got to work, We sawed, glued, sanded, inspected, and repeated. These were by far the most intricate boards that we had ever made but slowly the vision came to life.
It was now the day before I was to fly with the wood surfboards. I was packing up the surfboards when I realized that we made a mistake...One of the teams had insisted that we add the ™ sign to their logo. Somehow we forgot this fine detail. At this point it is 8 pm and my flight is at 6 am. I’m thinking to myself fix it or let it ride? Two hours later and it is fixed and drying. Now it’s back to bed to try and sleep before a couple hours before I pick it up on the way to the airport.
I felt ahead of the game and had triple checked to confirm that all was well to fly the boards as checked luggage. I’m at the airport waiting to check in and the gate agent says, “That’s oversized, we can’t take it.” I plead my case and informed him that I had called customer service to confirm it was allowed. However, no luck and the trip seemed sunk.
Thinking quickly, I call the 1-800 number back and talked to my guardian angel named Susan from Ohio who confirmed that my boards could fly. In what can only be described as surreal, the gate agent and Susan have it out with each other via my cell phone. After 45 minutes, the gate agent realized he was wrong and I was set to fly. Only one problem, because of this argument, I missed my flight.
I had to be rebooked on an 18 hour flight that had two layovers before it would arrive in Maui. Thank goodness for the free airline peanuts that kept me fueled during this never ending day.
At last, it was 10:30 pm Maui time and I had arrived safely with the custom surfboards, now time to inspect the pieces of art. Board number one: perfect! Surfboard number 2: not perfect. The scratch was minor but it was definitely there. Little did I know, Walmarts in Maui are not open 24 hours a day. I had 45 minutes to get to the nearest one to grab polish before closing time.
Next stop is across the island via cab to meet Luis, the owner of Maui Van Rental who has agreed to stay open well past closing time to rent a van to me. I carefully place the custom surfboards in the back of the 30+ year old Westfalia camper and off I go. I found a camping spot just south of Maui Jim’s office where I repolished board number two by moonlight and headlight.
I had no idea what time it was but I assumed it was well past 24 hours of being awake since I began to receive emails from my team in Austin which usually happens about 7 am CST time.
It wasn’t until the sun rose the next day that I saw just how beautiful my surroundings were.
No time to waste though, I had boards to deliver and hands to shake at the Maui Jim office. I’m not going to lie, driving over there may have been the most nervous I have ever felt. Good news though, everyone from Maui Jim to the legendary Bill Walton and Jay Bilas and the tournament committee at Kemper Lesnik loved them! At this point I was too tired to remember much and I had no coffee in me, but the one thing that stood out was just how funny and genuinely nice Bill Walton was.
My work was done, I turned off my phone, and got lost exploring Maui and surfing the waves. You may be wondering what happened to the board that was auctioned off. It was sold for close to fifteen thousand dollars which is all going to the Maui Food Bank. Who was the lucky buyer? Rumour has it, that it’s on its way back to the mainland to one of the fancy hotels in Las Vegas. Stay tuned…
This is small business. It ain’t always easy or pretty but man is it fun.
P.S. Bill Walton and Jay Bilas are legit funny AF in real life. See the clip below I shot on my cell phone:
Written by Tony Smith Founder @JarvisBoards
Special thanks to all of our employees at Jarvis who worked to pull this off. To everyone at Maui Jim and to Kimperliensic for inviting us in to the tournament. To the owner ofMaui Campers, Luis, who agreed to stay at work until almost midnight to rent a van and toJenny Sath who island hopped from the big island for the day to capture images.