Old surfboards never die – nor do they fade away.
And that bothers Matt Hasson, a recently retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who is doing something to address that matter through his new Ahwatukee home-based business, Revibed Creations.
He turns them into wall hangings – preserving the story behind boards and doing his part to preserve the planet.
“Surfboards almost become like children to a surfer, but the only problem is that they are indestructible and take a thousand years to degrade,” he explained. “So, if you throw one out after it gets damaged, it doesn’t do much for the environment.”
The core of a surfboard is a high-density foam with a fiberglass and epoxy exterior – which makes them hard to repair – and even harder to disintegrate.
His business is rooted in a love affair with surfing that dates back to 2009, when he was stationed in Hawaii.
Given that “I’ve always loved the ocean,” he said, surfing seemed like a thing to learn.
It didn’t take long to get hooked.
“You feel so alive when you’re on the board,” said Hasson, director of communications for the Maricopa County Community College system. “It’s a passion of mine.”
From there, it was only natural that he became part of a small but close community of surfers.
“I love the culture, love the vibe, love the energy,” he said.
The business grew out of a hobby that he developed shortly after a visit in December 2016 to San Diego – a frequent haunt for Hasson and his two daughters, particularly 14-year-old Emma.
“I was looking for a surfboard for her and was in a shop and saw the guy had some old banged-up surfboards in a shed, and I asked him what he was going to do with them. He said he would probably throw them in the trash,” Hasson said. “So, I bought three or four of them and took them home.”
In January 2017, he retired from the Air Force and decided he would see if he could make something for the house out of one of the boards.
It wasn’t easy – especially because he decided to turn it into a fish replica of sorts.
He began drawing a pattern – he makes lots of drawings to perfect his pattern before he makes a single cut.
He follows that old seamstress motto of “measure twice, cut once” because the board, though durable, can easily be shattered by the wrong cut in the wrong place.
“If you cut it wrong it loses its integrity and falls apart,” he said.
Besides, he’s doing something he has never done before.
“Drawing out a design takes a lot of time,” he said.
Although he has often made drawings for his daughters – his older daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Northern Arizona University who doesn’t share his and her sister’s surfing passion – Hasson feels he is “being new to this whole creativity piece” and that “it takes me a while to get in tune and comfortable with it.”
Once he was done, friends reacted so favorably that Hasson felt he was onto something unique.
He started getting the word out among surfers and surf shops to save their old boards. Now, whenever he makes a trip to California, they’ve saved him some old boards that he can take home and work on.
He also makes sure he learns the story behind each board – and promises his customers not only an artifact that will give their office, home or patio “an ocean vibe” but also and “a wonderful conversation piece.”
“Every board has a story,” he explains on his website. “They’ve spent their days in the ocean giving their riders an incredible stoke and good vibes.”
One of his creations – a black-and-blue board with a man standing – was purchased from a guy he met who was selling all his possessions so he and his girlfriend could travel around the country.”
“He was a professional surfer and it was difficult for him to sell it to me,” he related. “He was from New Zealand and she was from San Diego and they just decided to chuck it all and see the country.”
Some designs include materials that he needs to affix to the board – like a piece that he attached sand dollars to.”
But all those materials, he said, are reusable things.
“Everything is recycled,” he said. “The whole premise is giving new life to old things.”
“When you’re at the beach, you try to keep it clean. My daughters pick up stuff that’s been just thrown away on the beach because it’s the right thing to do.”