Students start their own surf company


Maddie Monroe

Senior Nathan Wolffis works in his barn putting the finishing touches on his handmade surfboard

Maddie Monroe and Nick Garvale

It’s 2 A.M. in the cold, first morning of October. Mason Mahacek, Kyle Eveland, and Nathan Wolfiss huddle in Wolfiss’s garage, all around a piece of curved foam that rests in the middle of the trio. They contemplate about what size to make the nose, how much rocker to have, and what bottom contour they want. Soon after measuring out dimensions, the boys begin shaping.

The three GHHS seniors personalize surfboards for customers, creating them in the garage of Wolfiss’ home. These surfers started shaping boards last April, manufacturing them customized for people who ride the waves of Lake Michigan.

“We started about six months ago, we wanted to design and make our own boards and we really enjoyed doing it,” Mahachek said. “Then our friends started asking us to make them boards so we decided to make it a real company.”

After coming up with the idea, they assembled a website and Instagram to start molding their company. Orders from people interested in their own wave riders normally take place on their website and social media. The trio started off making boards for themselves but before long they were getting requests from others.

“Now we get orders all the time. But whenever we don’t have any specific boards to make we just make whatever we want too, which is something really cool about being in charge of your own company.”

Being a high school student and varsity athletes spare almost no extra time, which makes owning a business a difficult process. Right before the fall swell comes to Grand Haven, the group tries to manage their schedule even if it means staying up late to get the job done.

“It is definitely not easy,” Eveland said. “It is much more convenient to find time during the summer. But it’s nice because we make them right in Nate’s garage so we can go there whenever we want, whether it’s at 9 p.m. or 2 a.m. we try to find the time.”

The creation of Salt Free Surf also stems from their love of surfing, which each of them has been doing for over two years.

“You are always trying to find ways to get better, trying to find the perfect wave,” Wolffis said. “When I surf I don’t think about anything else over than that. Which makes it a really good stress relief.”

Owning a surf company can be time-consuming, stressful and chaotic. However, Wolffis, Eveland, and Mahachek have a growing passion for board building. Their love for surfing drives them to be involved in the business. Along with doing what they strive for, the students balance time and creativity into their schedule.

“I love making my own boards and being able to put my own art into boards,” Wolffis said. “I found that creating my own was way more fun than just buying one, so we wanted a way to make boards all the time since it is something we all love, which is what makes Salt Free Surf so fun.”