When Camas native Terry Click decided to dip his toe into the immerging industry of designing and building standup paddleboards, he was delighted that his work became a thriving business called Sweetwood Paddleboards.
According to Click, standup paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports today. Part of its appeal, Click said, is that people of all ages, athletic abilities and interest in the outdoors and waterways can participate.
“They are versatile,” he said. “You can surf, paddle, fish or even just take a nap on your board.”
Click grew up on Prune Hill in Camas and is a 1980 graduate of Camas High School. After high school, Click enlisted in the Army where he served more than 20 years, much of his duty was overseas. When he retired, Click moved to Montana and worked in one of the top machine shops in the country. Click lives in Bigfork, Mont., with his wife, Kim.
After many years of following orders in the military, Click had a desire to try self-employment. So, he turned his hobby of woodworking into a business of designing, building and restoring furniture.
“With my understanding of manufacturing design and principals, it was an easy transition to furniture,” Click said.
Click ran his furniture business successfully for 11 years and has earned a reputation for excellent craftsmanship in the Montana region where he lives. His ability has also taken him to a variety of specialty and custom jobs around the country.
So how did a custom furniture builder get his start designing and building stand up paddleboards?
“A friend was interested in the sport and asked me for help making a board,” he said. “I simply took my skills from furniture building to board building. I just fell in love.”
Click admits that it has been a process.
“We are now on our sixth generation of board, and there were a few failures along the way,” he said. “However, we have evolved into a simply beautiful board, like a piece of furniture, which is also high performance and matches up side-by- side with any board in the world.”
Most other standup paddleboards on the market in the U.S. are manufactured in other countries. At Sweetwood, customers can communicate directly to the factory in Montana, which allows them an opportunity for a custom approach to the look of their board. Click currently has distribution in Montana and Florida and regional sales representatives in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado.
Click has already created a following and a buzz with his Sweetwood Paddleboards.
“The first thing people see that is different with our boards is the look,” he said. “They are made out of mahogany, not plastic. They get everyone’s attention with their beauty.”
The next feature that catches riders is how light they are. But the feature that keeps customers coming back is their performance.
“They move fast over the water, turn when you want them to turn and glide straight with good paddle form,” Click says.
A SUP can take riders to many of the same places as a kayak or canoe such as lakes, rivers and the ocean. However, a person gets a whole different view of the surroundings when standing up on a board.
“You just can’t see very far when you are sitting close to the water in a kayak or canoe,” he said. “It offers a whole different perspective and experience to being on the water.”
Plus the learning curve is quite short.
“The initial step off into the sport is easy,” Click said. “With good instruction, a person can be proficient in an hour. But it doesn’t end there. You can build on that foundation and grow with it. There are people who race competitively on SUPs. You can go as far as you want to go with it.”
It may come as a surprise, but SUPs are bigger than surfing in the Pacific Northwest.
“It makes sense when you consider there are more flat water areas here than coastal beaches,” Click pointed out. “It is not well known that there are a multitude of water trails in the Portland and Southwest Washington area. These water trails receive federal funding and staffing at the state, county and city levels to create and manage these water trails.
“Funding and development of these water trails are nothing but good news for SUP enthusiasts.” Click said. “But these efforts are in need of greater awareness and public involvement to keep them viable and funded. It is a great benefit to anyone interested in human powered watercraft.”
Having grown up in Southwest Washington, Click understands the importance of water in the area and has incorporated water conservation into the Sweetwood company mission.
“This means that in all areas we do business we work to help clean up the waterways we are playing in. In fact, we are often leading those efforts for clean waterways. An example of that is our Clean Water Campaign for 2012.”
The Clean Water Campaign has created partnerships with community, business and government agencies to clean up water ways. The Montana campaign features organized clean-up efforts of area water ways with prizes donated from local businesses awarded to volunteers involved in the clean up work. Montana’s campaign is in progress, Southwest Washington is about to kick off and Florida is set for late fall.
For more information about Sweetwood Paddleboard local demonstrations, visit www.sweetwoodmt.com or contact Click at the factory directly at (406) 756-6805.