Like-minded Surfers With a Passion For WooDworking, innovation, and people
Founder & Co-owner
Mike is the founder and principal owner of Grain Surfboards. As the chief thinker and tinkerer, he daily pulls the whole crew together in a spirit of experimentation and cooperative decision that – at bottom – is probably the main reason we look forward to coming to work every day.
Mike grew up like any other suburban kid, building ramps and hitting them on skateboards and bmx bikes. He discovered snowboarding when the sport was in it’s infancy, and a few short years later had moved to Vermont to work for the industry-leader, Burton Snowboards. After 12 years working in the industry, doing everything from building boards to managing a team of the most respected professional riders in the industry, Mike shifted gears and began to follow his other passion. He sat for his U.S. Coast Guard Captains License, and began operating a commercial sailing vessel on Lake Champlain. This new lifestyle allowed Mike the time to explore much of the East Coast by water from the Caribbean to Maine. In 2001, with his knowledge of vessel operations, and experience working on many wooden boats over the years, Mike jumped at the opportunity to manage the construction of an 88′ wooden schooner being built by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. In 2005, Mike again followed his instincts and moved to York, Maine, in hopes of surfing more and driving less. Having a clear head and a fresh start, led Mike to start messing around with surfboard shapes, design and construction. He combined much of what he knew and loved about wooden boats and adapted that to building wooden surfboards. With knowledge of and history with the board sports world, as well as help from a lot of close friends, Grain was born.
Besides being one of the owners and managers, Brad's also a seasoned builder, and a designer of methods, boards, and systems.
Brad's worked on and with watercraft and wood all his life. Drawn to the sea since the age of sixteen, he started his working life building fiberglass boats in a New Jersey industrial park. Making his escape from the suburbs soon after, he spent the succeeding decades living and working in New England as a gas-dock jockey, boat builder, cabinet maker, staircase builder and ship’s officer. In several side-trips into business and non-profit sectors, he worked as a teacher, computer consultant, process analyst and founder/manager of land conservation and community development non-profits. In his spare time, he’s a winter caretaker on a deserted island, a motorcycle tinkerer, and teller of stories about his weird years at sea, and of all the weird and wonderful people he’s met.
Brad believes Grain's greatest accomplishment is our ability to excel at what we do while maintaining uncompromising dedication to our values and ethos.
Though his host of skills help in the ongoing improvement of the shop, John's greatest contributions are his generosity to everyone around him and his dedication to making every board he builds better and more interesting than the last.
Originally from the northeast, John followed his passion for the mountains and the outdoors to Crested Butte, CO. John spent 12 years playing snow sports in the mountains, while also finding time to work as a finish carpenter. After the birth of his first son, Willy, John and his wife, Barb, left the mountains to return to family and roots in coastal Maine. Making the move east also ignited a deep love of surfing. “I love being humbled by a good Nor’easter storm, but my favorite time is being in the water at first light and watching the sunrise break over the horizon and through the crest of a good wave.”
Working at Grain Surfboards is a dream come true for John. To see him in action in the shop is something to behold. He’s equal parts craftsman and artist, and his creativity is evident in every board he builds. John’s also a lifelong Grateful Dead loyalist. If you’re in the shop and hear one of the legendary jam band’s tunes on the sound system, the call of “Jerrrrrrryyyyyyy!!!!!” won’t be far behind. That’s just John doing what he loves in the place he loves doing it.
Nolan started with Grain as a summer helper but in the succeeding years, he's become an integral part of our team. Manager of all class things, Nolan spends his days teaching, organizing, building, planning, driving, prepping, glassing and communicating. Quietly reliable, he’s a good natured, good guy with a lot on his plate.
Nolan grew up in southern Maine, raised in a family who spent winters on the mountains and summers on the beach. Once brought to the coast, he would disappear to spend all day on his skimboard or boogie board. This fixation with the ocean and board riding eventually extended to surfing. Hearing about the local business and intrigued by Grain’s environmentally conscious agenda, Nolan was eager to become involved. He now keeps Grain buzzing with his enthusiasm for all things surf. When not teaching board-building classes, he’s most likely off chasing waves with a trunk full of Grain boards.
Grown in Hawaii, now living in LA, Allen is our man in the west. As a Grain principal and lifetime surfer, Allen is a key part of our commitment to keeping close ties with the west coast and with the deepest roots of surfing. With all that, Allen also brings business and IT experience in spades.
Allen Anderson grew up on the East end of Oahu, descended from one of the old families of Hawaii that’ve been a presence in the islands since the mid-1800′s. Though he was a regular at all the great North Shore and West-side breaks, he remembers Ala Moana as a favorite spot. More? His great uncle was Duke Kahanamoku’s Olympic swim coach and his grandfather the author of classic haole Hawaiian songs like ‘Lovely Hula Hands’ and ‘Mele Kalikimaka’.
From his earliest days Allen couldn’t stay out of the water. Even at four years old, when living next to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel he often climbed a fence and a seawall to jump straight into the Waikiki surf. He learned to swim slung face down in a canvas belly strap hung from a rope on a bamboo pole held by his great uncle. As if that’s not cool enough, it also means that Allen had the same swim coach as the Duke.
As you would expect, Allen’s been in love with surfboards for fifty years. He re-glassed his first board, a Velzy, in his bedroom in Manoa Valley, stripping the glass, then using his Mom’s copper bottom pot for a hot coat. About the episode, he says only that “I named the board ‘Brand X’. It was itchy in that room after that.” Nothing from his mom on the subject.
Though Allen’s now pushing sixty, he had his first tow-in session just a couple of years ago at big Hammerheads. That says a lot about Allen, and reflects just a small part of why we’re so happy that he’s a key part of our little clan. He’s got gobs of experience, a truckload of great stories, full-on stoke for wood boards, an adventurous and spontaneous spirit, and a kid’s enthusiasm for life. Plus his quiver is totally nuts.
“Ultimately, I found Grain while I was searching for a way to make a wooden surfboard as a memorial to my Grandfather. My idea was to build a board and have it laser cut with a picture of a Hula Girl and the title of his song,‘Lovely Hula Hands’. I will do that before too long.”
Gemini Meeh keeps the mill-shop humming, the tools sharp, and with his absurdly varied skills, takes care of pretty much all the things around the shop that need taking care of.
Gemini (Gem for short) grew up in Canterbury, New Hampshire on an organic and energy independent family farm. Besides producing maple syrup, hay, honey, fruits, veggies, and biodiesel, the operation is also a NH certified tree farm that generates a myriad of wood products. From a very young age Gem's been involved with sustainable forestry practices and working with wood. Whether running a small-scale logging and saw mill operation to milling finished surfboard components at Grain, Gem is often covered in sawdust. Another passion in Gem’s life is playing in the water, and like all members of the Grain community, building wooden surfboards combines these two interests in the best way imaginable. Growing up swimming every summer day in the back ponds at the farm and sailing on New Hampshire lakes, meant that when Gem discovered the world of surfing he became obsessed.
Surfing (and general adventuring) has led him to explore New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and Hawaii with no regrets. Gem currently lives in New Hampshire, or “the wrong side of the rivah,” but the rest of the Grain guys don’t hold that against him. Gem and his wife Meagan are fortunate enough to live in a little cottage in the woods right on the shores of Great Bay.
Libby's always lusted for surf. That's because most summers of her childhood, Hawaii taunted her through the stop-over vacations her family made during their annual trips from mainland U.S. to their home in Japan. Then, twenty years sped by before surfing finally became a part of her life... who knew it would be as far from Hawaii as it's possible to get in America? But after living in land-locked locales across the country, she finally settled her young family in Southern Maine over ten years ago, and as the moving van was unloading, she headed straight to the local surf shop. Like all of us, the little knee-highs that she got that first day were enough to hook her for good and, though she describes herself as a fair-weather surfer (definitely not into the old six-mil) she now surfs whenever she wants to (suck it, Hawaii).
And that's all great, but we asked Libby to join us to keep the business side of the business in business - and we're pleased to have someone on our side who has her skills and an irrepressible enthusiasm for what we do. She joined us at the beginning of 2015 after nearly twenty years of working with small businesses and in financial analysis from the Blue Ridge Mountains to New York City and is ready to "work at something that's worth caring about" as she's told us. We're totally pumped to have her expertise in the house, and are grateful that Hawaii didn't get her first.
Though Matt grew up in southern Rhode Island, he's clearly got the heart of a wide-ranging explorer, spending the last decade working on both coasts as well as among the magnificent ranges and drainages that divide them. During his formative years, he worked on marina docks and as farm laborer where early on he saw the value of learning from the salty and the skilled. It was inspiration garnered in those years that drew him into working with wood, and to timber-framing in particular. With a passion for exploration and a desire to learn new trades, Matt began expanding his vocations - from sitting for his captain's license to serving in Americorps and working on a several wildfire and trail crews. Eventually his yearning to learn and to travel drove him to pack up and head west for work in Yellowstone National Park. It was here that he was able to combine his love for the outdoors, for working with wood and for teaching. Leading backcountry crews and teaching trail construction, wilderness ethics, and resource management proved to be extremely gratifying for Matt and was the catalyst for his opportunities to work in places like Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Colorado. When not seasonally employed by a non-profit or one of the Federal Land Management agencies, he was as likely to be guiding wilderness expeditions on the Yukon River, fly fishing in the San Juan's, dog sledding or traveling to Central America in search of waves. Life so far has been as full, challenging and exciting as he had always hoped it would be, but a creeping desire for re-connection with his roots and with the sea has drawn him back to New England where he's found both as part of the Grain community.
Brian was born in Colorado and grew up climbing mountains and riding powder. After college, he hit the road following a call to the sea that took him up and down the east coast. Working as a sailor out of Newport, RI, he taught sailing, did boat deliveries to and from the Caribbean and crewed in a transatlantic race through the heart of hurricane Gustav in 2002. His time on the ocean inevitably led him to take up surfing. He caught his first wave at Waikiki on his honeymoon.
For the last 10 years, Brian's lived with his wife and two sons at a vineyard in Rhode Island where he worked as farm manager and built custom furniture. During those years, he felt he was preparing for a new adventure, and since he found the same clarity and purity in the ocean that he had in the mountains and in the quiet of his furniture shop, surfing and woodworking seemed to call.
In 2013, he and his brother-in-law Patrick attended a Grain workshop in Maine. Both were hooked on the Grain experience and, on the drive home, they immediately started brainstorming about a way to be a part of it. Some back-and-forth with us led to a plan to set up a Grain Surfboards workshop facility on Long Island and a lengthy training program made easy by Brian's extensive woodworking skills. Now our man on the East End, Brian runs the day-to-day at Grain New York, a permanent board-building workshop geared toward the needs of the year-round and summer populations on Long Island as well as folks from the surrounding areas. We're delighted to know that Brian will be there, on his next adventure, delivering the same inspiring experience he first had at our shop in Maine.
Born and raised on an island in Maine, Patrick's youth was filled with ski racing in the mountains, and boating in Casco Bay. No surprise then, that the love of the outdoors and profound respect for the sea that grew in him over those years - to this day - runs deep and remains strong. Though his career transplanted him to NYC after graduating from Bowdoin College, he was eventually led to the eastern end of Long Island by the draw of surf and salty air: the magic elixir. His appreciation of the beauty of wood on water led him to Grain.
Driven by his love of waves and surfing and drawn by his roots, he returned to Maine in 2013 with his brother-in-law, Brian for a Grain board building class in York. The pure, meditative craft of working wood with hand tools to shave and shape a board intensely resonated against the memories of his youth... and so, on the drive home, the dream of bringing Grain to Eastern Long Island was born.
Partnering with Brian in establishing a permanent board-building workshop we call "Grain New York", Patrick is now a principal mover and shaker in helping others to feel a little of what he's known from birth... that craft, the sea, and a singular connection to things of quality are not only worth knowing, but worth sharing.