425pro is based in two locations: our logistics and production facility in Riga, Latvia, and our R&D and Marketing office in Bali, Indonesia. In 2020, we joined forces with Prestol Composites, a European composite manufacturer who now produces 425pro boards. Prestol is the regional leader in composite production, specializing in manufacturing high-tech carbon-fiber sports equipment: Olympic sprint kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, bobsleighs, luge and skeleton sledges.
Let’s meet the team in Latvia and learn more about 425pro with Oto Dzenis, the founder of Prestol, and Reinis Abele, CEO of 425pro.
Hey Team, can you tell us how this partnership started?
It all started a few years ago when 425pro was looking for a partner to develop and produce carbon-fiber race boards. 425pro asked Prestol to produce some samples and model prototypes. Those turned out to be some of the best boards anybody had seen on the water.
After successful first-run production batches, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted global business, and the US-registered 425pro was hit especially hard. Jerry and Oto had already become friends and had even gone to the 2019 World Championship for SUP in China together.
With the global lockdown in place, it was clear that the company could not function successfully from three locations: the corporate office in the US, R&D in Indonesia, and the production facility in Latvia. The solution was to enter into a business partnership with Prestol. To manage this transition process and to run the new company, I (Reinis Abele) was asked to join 425pro. I had just moved back to Riga after having spent years of sailing and running a yacht-management company. I am a water person and with experience in boat building and international business management; I was a perfect match for 425pro. In September 2020, with Jerry and the whole team present in Riga, the 425pro company registration and main office was officially moved from the US to Europe; with headquarters at the Prestol facility in Riga, Latvia.
What makes our board so special compared to our competitors?
The current model line of 425pro boards combines the innovative shapes designed by Jerry with the great technological and material expertise of Prestol. The new H2O board is the most-durable hollow board on the market, and does not compromise the weight or speed characteristics of the board. When Prestol presented the first hollow SUP board five years ago, there was widespread skepticism about such a design. Now, almost every top brand uses hollow construction in their fastestboards. Some say that the 425pro H2O is the best flatwater race board in the world right now, but that’s for you to decide ;)
All of the 425pro boards are produced with full attention to details. Our EPS-core board uses carbon-graphite EPS, which, unlike the standard (white) EPS foam, is hydrophobic. So your 425pro board core will not take on water even if, for example, you damage it by hitting a rock. This feature, along with the Tahitian design and combined with the best accessories on the market, will make your 425pro board stand out from the competition.
Who are the people behind the scene who make the magic (boards) happen?
We have an amazing, international team working in a friendly environment. We have just expanded into a second facility in an adjacent building, and the team is growing as well. We have in-house engineers, CNC operators, lamination specialists, sanders, painters – all with years of experience in the profession. This differentiates us from our competitors. We do everything in house: from the R&D, design, and engineering to customer delivery.
What is your vision for the SUP market and future?
The worldwide lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings have pushed people towards individual sports. We can see this in the boom in demand for SUP boards. The big issue currently is the supply chain. Delayed deliveries from Asia have left a lot of brands with dissatisfied customers. I think that more brands will consider moving production closer to the customer to reduce delivery time and costs. This is what we have done by producing in Europe – which is our main retail market.
How is SUP in Latvia and Europe in general?
The eastern and northern European regions have seen a huge rise in SUP popularity in the last few years. The landscape is perfect for this: many rivers and lakes for flatwater racing, and the endless opportunities for open-water paddling in the Baltic Sea. The next World Championship for SUP will take place in Poland, which is certain to give SUP a big push in our region. So, see you in Poland, if we don’t run into each other on a beach somewhere!