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.
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.
Laurie discovered Grain during a long winter walk on Long Sands watching someone on one of our boards gracefully surfing the waist high waves. Always intrigued with Grain and it's mission, she attended events and heard we were looking for help through our newsletter. We fell in love with her spirit, optimism and sense of humor right away and knew she was just the person to take over the reigns as our bookkeeper.
Laurie grew up in the outskirts of the Seacoast in a small New Hampshire town. She spent 15 years living in the San Fransisco Bay Area building her finance knowledge, unearthing her love of yoga, befriending the seals at Ano Nuevo and riding in the Sugar Bowl. Eventually she came back home to be closer to her family and friends. Laurie is a passionate yoga instructor, a fan of music of all genres, a baker, a diehard sand dollar seeker, and always down for a hardy laugh and a good time. Her days here at Grain are spent whipping us into shape, paying bills, handling orders, juggling cash flow and trying to keep the office in order. We’d be lost without her.
A York local, we’ve known TJ for years, seeing him around the beach and local watering holes. TJ’s role here atGrain is as our Logisitcs Manager, handling everything that comes and goes from the shop. Inventorying supplies and working with vendors, packing boards and kits, researching shipping rates (a full-time job in itself) helping people on the phone, TJ serves as a central hub of information in the shop. A critical role that can go unnoticed when the job is done well but is never unappreciated.
Born and raised in York, TJ knows practically everyone in this town. He headed west for some a few years living it up as a ski bum in Tahoe, surfer dude in San Diego and lots places in between before attending the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, Washington . He came back home a few years ago, well, because Maine just has so much to offer. Since then he’s become a master of trades, working various jobs as most Mainers do, painting houses, working on boats, and managing the Logistics here at Grain.
Like most of our crew, Brian came to Grain pretty organically. We were moving from Sidehill Farm to our new shop down by the beach and Brian offered his time and skills to help us build out the new shop. A bond grew quickly and we knew we couldn’t let him get to far away. A few months later, our millshop managers position opened up and we knew we had our guy! Brian now spends his days here at Grain making sawdust, milling planks and keeping everything (with a motor) humming along.
Brian grew up by the ocean in RI, and while he enjoyed surfing in lots of exotic locations over the years, he never really felt at home in the water until he was back in the northeast.
Living on a 30 acre farm in NH with his wife and two kids, Brian raises and grows much of their own food while at the same time trying to revive their 200 year old farmhouse. He’s been in the building trades for twenty plus years and has represented the NH Home Builders Association on the NH Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board, as well as the Green Building Council, and was tasked with establishing the standards and guidelines for sustainable building and remodeling.
A few years back Brian became interested in board shaping and the mechanics of surfing. While studying under a local shaper and researching materials and techniques he stumbled across Grain. The more he read the more intrigued and inspired he became. Our new shop that Brian put so many hours into building out has become a second home for him. From Brians mouth –“Every mile on the road between his farm and York is spent in rich anticipation of the challenges of the day, the sweet smell of the ocean, and quality time with friends doing the work he loves. Every mile home is a fulfilling reflection on the simply satisfactions of another day well spent, and the open arms of those waiting at home on the farm. There’s nothing better, than when those worlds collide!” We couldn’t agree more and we’re thrilled to have him here.
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.
More than a decade ago, after a stultifying stint in a graphic design mill, Nick threw over his cubicle for a carriage house on a sea cliff in York Maine. From there, he began a new life that had him traveling the world photographing the unique people and places that are the focus of his interest. Nick met and married local York sweetie, Molly Johnson, they made a baby and built a solar powered super-efficient home on land split off of the Johnson family farm (where they are now just across the back field from the Grain shop).
During the ensuing years, Nick's become known as a world-class photog, sought after for assignments far and wide - particularly (but by no means exclusively) for surf and action-sports shoots. His work has been published in loads of national and international publications including Maine Magazine, Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Surfer, Surfers Journal, and Monster Children . Follow him at nicklavecchia.com and getinthevan.com.
Known for his skill at extracting narrative by concentrating the absolutely unique sense of a subject, Nick's work also gives a true sensation of being there and feeling it with immediacy. He's been a critical reason that the spirit and feel of Grain is so readily apparent in the images that accompany almost everything printed about or by us, and throughout our website, newsletters and more.
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.”
Drawn to the sea since the age of sixteen, Brad started his working life building fiberglass boats in a New Jersey industrial park. Making his escape from the suburbs soon after, he spent much of the succeeding decades living and working in New England as a gas-dock jockey, boat builder, cabinet maker, staircase builder and ship’s officer with several side-trips into business and non-profit sectors.
Brad and Mike became partners a few months after Grain officially became "Grain Surfboards", and for the next eleven years, together they planned how to build the kind of company they'd want to work for. As co-owners and co-managers of an enterprise for which they had no template, they carefully considered (and put into play) plan-after-plan, abandoned others, and often just went-for-it, always working hard to put everything they could back into growing Grain. In July 2017, Brad retired from active participation in managing systems & equipment design, board design, technical, legal, copy-writing & editing, and in helping to guide strategic planning and management of the company, now supporting Grain just as a co-owner.
Brad began his time with Grain by helping to refine the construction methods that are the foundation of Grain's boards, bringing to bear his lifelong experience working on and with watercraft and wood and fiberglass. Literally from day one, he's devoted his energies to building the "infrastructure" of Grain - processes, customized machinery and systems, procedures, core class curricula, sophisticated CAD technology and a legal foundation for future growth. Skills acquired during his past experiences running his own businesses and as a teacher, computer consultant, process analyst and founder/manager of land conservation & community development non-profits formed Brad's ability to effectively contribute to Grain as he has.
Today, Brad's "catching up on all the stuff I didn't do for the last decade", looking for opportunities to continue writing and copy-editing, and spending more time with family and friends. About his time as Grain's co-manager, he says "I am really proud of what we were able to do in growing Grain, and of all the great staff that we've attracted who've shared our commitment and dedication to the values that Grain is built on."