New surfboard company turns invasive species into eco-friendly rides

By Jim Mendoza

Published: Apr. 24, 2024
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In Wahiawa, a new surfboard company is turning an invasive species into eco-friendly rides. The business is called Bizia Surf and Coffee Bar because the boards it makes and sells are all crafted from albizia wood.

“Not only are we using wood, but it’s a highly invasive wood that is very problematic in the state. So any opportunities to make something with it is a win,” co-founder Joey Valenti said.

He first used albizia as a building material when he was an architecture graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“My thesis was on taking this invasive species and turning it into a material that we could use for building and making products,” he said.

Legendary surfboard shaper Dick Brewer offered his blueprints for his chambered board technology. Now, others have come on board.

“We worked with some of the local shapers on a longboard,” Valenti said.

“We worked with Myers Surfboards on a fish model we have here. And we’re also working with big wave surfer Garrett McNamara on a tow board.”

Because they’re wooden, albizia boards have more heft than conventional foam and fiberglass surfboards, and they’re a bit more expensive because of the time it takes to make a board.

The surfing community is starting to catch onto the green benefits of riding wood.

“The most intriguing factor for me when I surf these boards is the living material that you’re standing on. It has this very connectedness to it versus what you feel when you’re on something that’s an artificial material,” Valenti said.

He gets the raw material from albizia tree removal projects that are then milled into lumber.

“We actually mill from a whole log all the way down to our end products. I don’t think very many people do that in the world today,” he said.

And there’s no shortage of raw material.

“We have a reputation now for being the ones that are using it. So rather than just ending up in a landfill or just being left to decompose in the valleys, we like to capture that waste stream and turn it into stuff,” he said.

Valenti’s other organization, The Albizia Project, restores native species in areas where albizia trees once dominated the landscape.

Bizia Surf & Coffee Bar also sells other merchandise made from albizia wood, signature clothing and coffee. You can learn more about the surfboards by clicking here.

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