COMMERCE (CBSLA.com) — A local packaging company is being credited with creating the first-ever surfboard and snowboard made out of cardboard.
Tim Wilson runs Ernest Packaging Solutions, a family-owned second-generation business, which has been in existence for 70 years.
"We sell boxes. We sell packaging supplies," Wilson told CBS2's Suzie Suh. "We sell the bubbles you like to pop, the stretch wrap that goes around that makes all the noise."
But that's not all.
In fact, inside the company's 300,000 square-foot warehouse based in Commerce, the packaging business has been creating some unusually unique creations, like the first-ever cardboard snowboard and surfboard.
"The challenge was to create a biodegradable, totally recyclable snowboard. It has to have paper but it also has to have water adhesive," Wilson said.
Mike Martinez, who helped engineer the board designs. says he wanted to give up on the surfboard many times.
"We had to in the end encase it into fiberglass but the structure and the strength comes from the paper. In this case, it's the honeycomb. It looks like a beehive that you can see through," Wilson said.
The company has also integrated the honeycomb mesh structure in cardboard for a children's product in collaboration with Kelly McConnell, a packaging customer.
Wilson explains that he started talking with McConnell, who is also a second-generation small business leader and CEO for Prince Lionheart Toys in Santa Maria.
"I saw this honeycomb. I saw the structural integrity that it afforded," McConnell said.
Then, their buzz began over another idea.
"I thought I wanna make a bike out of that," McConnell said.
McConnell's company already makes children's balance bikes but she wanted to roll out something lighter in weight -- a push bike made almost entirely of paper (with an exception for the bike's wheels).
"So that we can get kids riding them even younger because training wheels tend to make the transition happen later," McConnell said.
The company plans to introduce the bike prototype at an international toy conference early next year but gave CBS2 an exclusive look. They've also created an adult-size version of their push bike.
As for Ernest Packaging Solutions, the company says it's now working on a paper skateboard.
"I think the big challenge is gonna be making sure that we get the same strength and bounce off paper that you get from maple plywood," Martinez said.
The snow and surfboards were originally developed to encourage employee creativity and sustainability but if consumer interest exists, Ernest Packaging Solutions will consider making more.
"Paper has so many great characteristics. It's got strength, but it's flexible, so it's the best of everything," Wilson said.
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