Channel Islands Surfboards is returning to its roots.
The Carpinteria-based company, which has been owned by Burton Snowboards since 2006, is in the process of being resold to a collective of investors headed by Britt Merrick, the son of founders Al and Terry Merrick.
The CI Surfboards LLC also includes senior members of the brand’s management team, employees and various team riders. While the company had received a boon in brand-building from Burton’s acquisition, the family felt the time was right to regain ownership.
“For me, acquiring back the business is a lifestyle choice to continue that same family ethos of furthering the joy and community of surfing,” Britt Merrick said. “People in our area know that you can have life-changing moments in the waves — beautiful, transformative moments that make you want to always live in a certain healthy, vibrant way. And the cool thing is, these moments all happen on surfboards.”
Scott Anderson, Channel Islands Surfboards general manager of 25 years, expressed his appreciation for Burton.
“We’re extremely grateful for our time with everyone at Burton,” he said. “They’ve been nothing but good to us over the last 14 years and continue to be incredibly supportive during this transition. A lot of the staff at CI have been here their entire adult lives, so it feels natural to us that the business becomes an employee and team rider-run model.”
The board builders have always emphasized a family-first focus, true to Merrick values.
Jake Burton, founder of the Burton Snowboard company, was instrumental in purchasing Channel Islands Surfboards in 2006, fulfilling his lifelong dream of unifying the snow-to-surf market.
“Spending time with Al [Merrick] was cool,” Burton said 14 years ago in an interview with Surfing Magazine at the time of the sale, “but you learn a lot more about someone when you go for a surf together. That’s when I started to understand the soul of Channel Islands. I look forward to providing a home for Channel Islands for many years to come.”
Burton remained enthusiastic and supportive when it came to running the surf-and-snow companies up until losing his battle with cancer in 2019 at age 65. The announcement of the sale in November came within days of the first anniversary of his passing.
Burton owner Donna Carpenter, Jake Burton’s wife, said she was happy to see Channel Islands Surfboards return to its roots.
“For my family and all of us at Burton, this is a very happy ending to Burton’s chapter in the Channel Islands Surfboards’ history,” she said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when CI returns home to the Merrick family, and we know the brand will be in good hands with Britt Merrick, Scott Anderson, and the dedicated employees and team riders at Channel Islands.”
In keeping the family together, all Channel Islands athlete contracts and employees will remain in their same positions through the end of the sale.
Britt Merrick said he is thrilled to be named CEO of the company his parents launched in 1969.
“I literally grew up in my mom and dad’s surfboard factory, and was there to see how hard they and their whole family of employees worked to make Channel Islands one of the most highly regarded board builders in the world,” he said in a statement. “(My wife) Kate and I, along with our friends at CI, are super stoked to carry on the family tradition of creating positive experiences and a healthy lifestyle through great surfboards.
“Most of the people that work for us have grown up right here in Santa Barbara County and many have been with us for over 20 years. It’s such a gift to get to do something so cool and fun with a bunch of buddies I grew up with, and to be able to build boards locally right here in Carpinteria that help make people happy all over the world.”
The company, which has a retail store in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, plans to push out the same great product, including popular shapes such as the Fish Beard, Neck Beard and Happy.
Over the years, Channel Islands-supported surfers have captured 20 world titles and countless contest wins. Its riders have included superstars such as Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Kim Mearig, Lakey Peterson, Parker Coffin, Sage Erickson, Bobby Martinez and Dane Reynolds.