Interview with Paul Clare, Owner of Cartel Board Company - The 124 Society

Interview with Paul Clare, Owner of Cartel Board Company

When did Cartel get its start making bodyboards?


Who founded Cartel and why did they feel compelled to start the company?

Myself (Paul Clare), and at the time my partner Brian Kalopes from Honolulu Hawaii.

Where did the name “Cartel” come from?

Brian and myself were the top salesmen at Toobs in the early mid 90's. We both left to start Cartel. We were both bodyboarders that really loved the sport and worked very hard for other brands and helped Toobs make it into many major retailers. I also helped with trade shows and marketing. I was the one to suggest a fin and I named it blunt cuts. Roach is a good friend of mine now for over 3 years and we helped design the fin that is still in use today. Brian and I hated the name Toobs but loved the quality. When we left Toobs, our top priority was to have a brand name and logo that represented the more hard core side and skills of the sport of bodyboarding. And that we did. We knew that the definition of Cartel is a group of people and organizations working together to corner a market. We felt since we were often referred to as the "Spongers from BOOBS", we needed to address taking the lame out of the sport with a great name and logo. When we told the new name to buyers, they thought we were from a skateboard or snowboard company because of the name CARTEL BOARD COMPANY. When they found out we were a bodyboard company with that name we were no longer mocked, but praised by the same buyers.

How many workers do you have at Cartel?

Myself, 5 shapers, and a few other staff members in admin.

Describe a day in the life of a Cartel employee.

Shipping boards to customers, and shipping boards for the crew. I promote the brand and created most of the art with one other artist who kills it for us. I handle the sales, and all orders. PMA, and I, design the products. I also name and concept all the models myself personally, as well as our clothing and other items in the line up. I also handle all social media, orders, and website needs on the daily.

I understand your boards are manufactured in the United States, what was the reason for not manufacturing them offshore? Are all of your products manufactured in the US?

Making a Cartel Bodyboard

As long as we can pull it off making them in the USA, we will because it is the right thing to do even if the margins are much lower compared to the overseas boards produced. We feel we bring a really unique product and quality to the industry, and are able to maintain fair trade, equal opportunity employment, and the products being made in the USA. So, as long as we can pull it off, we will continue to do so. We are one of only a few brands left that pull this off.

What do you like about bodyboarding over surfing?

Bodyboarding is a killer, fun sport and the people involved are in it for the love of the sport, not to just be the cool guy surfer. But, we do respect the sport of surfing. It rocks, but our sport does equally as well. Bodyboards make it to the beach in a trunk, not the top of a car, so the riding speaks for itself not the look going down the highway.

How is the bodyboarding scene in Oceanside? How about the rest of California?

Oceanside is rad. It is super hard core and has a lot of roots for the sport. We love it. Cali is rad, some of the best day to day waves roll in and we ride them.

What professional bodyboarders currently ride Cartel?

Roach, Apple, Vargas, Grodzen are some just to name a few.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

To our customers: without you, there would be no us. Period. Thank you for the 28 years of support.

More Information on Cartel Board Company

Black Cartel Bodyboard

Red Cartel Bodyboard

Cartel Handplane for Bodysurfing