Matthew Weaver and his co-workers at Fiberglass Supply embrace an attitude that also serves as the company’s motto – “Itching for Fun.” So instead of using conventional industry-speak to describe the firm (it provides materials and supplies to the composites industry to help clients build lighter, faster, stronger products), Weaver would rather talk about cool waves.
A distant storm over the Pacific Ocean had created swells along the shoreline near the firm’s office in Burlington, Wash., and Weaver enjoyed them on a composite longboard he and the Fiberglass Supply team had made earlier. Weaver then posted a photo of the experience on the company’s blog and also thought of an idea for a video (now posted on the firm’s YouTube channel) that shows how to apply hot coating to surfboard decks.
“Itching for Fun”
At a time when many industry pros enjoy discussing the advantages of composites, Weaver is literally being moved by them – on surfboards, skateboards, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, sailboards and more.
“Our ‘Itching For Fun’ motto is about ideas, creativity, execution and play,” Weaver says. “We live and breathe that attitude, and we try to pass along our passion and knowledge to others.”
To that end, Weaver works with middle school, high school and college students to build composite skateboards during their industrial education classes. Fiberglass Supply recently designed a curriculum centered around a mold-and-materials kit that introduces students (and their instructors) to the fun (and function) of composites.
“A student with no experience in composites can safely and successfully build a composite skateboard that is not only cool, but also technologically advanced,” Weaver says. “While students are learning how to work with composites, the teacher can instruct them on issues like sandwich theory, material properties, physics and composite best practices.” (Fiberglass Supply also has developed a surfboard frame kit and two kinds of paddleboat kits.)
Weaver devised the skateboard-kit idea after talking with a high school teacher who was having trouble coming up with a new, hands-on project that would captivate students and make learning about materials more enjoyable. “I figured we could design something that could be a turnkey package – either we could come to class and build a skateboard along with students, or we could deliver a kit along with instructions,” he says. Today, Fiberglass Supply does both.
Learning by Doing
Education through demonstration has long been a focus at the company (formerly Monterey Bay Fiberglass), which for 30 years has provided innovative craftspeople with materials to make their project visions a reality. This year, on the second Thursday of each month, Fiberglass Supply will hold free seminars and demos for interested community members and business leaders. Wide-ranging topics include mold making, vacuum bagging techniques and stitch-and-glue boat building. And education isn’t just on site – it’s online. Since November 2010, the firm has uploaded 40 educational YouTube videos that have been seen a combined 230,000-plus times. (Visit www.youtube.com/user/fiberglasssupply.)