Factory Floor: Tribal Boards

A Stand-Up Success

Tribal Boards makes waves with inflatable paddleboards and kayaks for the promotional industry.

Seven years ago, Rob Russakoff was leading a company that sold personal cooling products at retail, but  he saw sales quickly heat up when the team decided to move the product into the promotional industry.

“We experienced tremendous growth and built mutually beneficial relationships with distributors—we knew we’d made the right choice,” says Russakoff. “In 2014 we sold that company, which is still a PPAI member, and we began to make customized inflatable paddleboards.”

Atlantic Beach, Florida-based supplier Tribal Boards (PPAI 645271) manufactures three sizes of inflatable boards, two sizes of inflatable kayaks, and three sizes of inflatable and solid resin boogie and skim boards. The company includes the necessary accessories, such as paddles and backpacks for toting the boards, with each order as part of a complete package, says Russakoff.

To ensure consistent product quality, Tribal Boards instituted a 90-day training program two years ago that every new employee is required to complete. “Each of the six processes needed to create a board has its own program, and employees are cross-trained after six months of employment,” he adds.

In the early stages of production, the team was only able to add a single logo to the deck of the board, “which in our opinion just wasn’t enough of an impact,” says Russakoff. “We felt we had to find a way to utilize more of the 60 square feet of space on each board. We failed many times to discover how to print on various materials that would withstand wear and tear.”

Success came when the team found a way to customize Tribal Board products with a full-color digital printing process on military-grade PVC treated with a UV coating. “This allows us to create anything a customer can imagine,” he says. “In addition, we now include screen print on our paddles and backpacks.”

Russakoff says despite the rapidly growing popularity of paddleboarding, , paddleboards were unknown in the promotional products industry when Tribal Boards was launched. “Having a new and unique product for distributors to present to their clients is truly exciting for us,” he says.

“Our original 11-foot inflatable paddleboard remains our top product; however, the five-foot inflatable and resin boards are quickly catching on,” he says, adding that the smaller boards take up much less space when used for display.

Read on to learn how Tribal Boards paddleboards are constructed.

This is an image of a roll of material.

Employees drop stitch material and PVC, which is sourced from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military PVC.

Materials are precision-cut to exact specifications based on the size of the end product.

Constructed boards, without graphics, are tested for seam strength and air tightness according to ISO 6185.

Any residual bubbling between layers is removed.

Each of the three handles, and at least four to as many as eight d-rings, are heat sealed onto the board.

The side rail is customized and then added for a finished appearance.

The side rail is customized and then added for a finished appearance.

Each board is tested for air leaks and kept inflated for 48 hours, followed by a pressure retention check.

Warehouse employees finally get to have some fun while they perform weight-bearing tests.


About Tribal Boards

Founding date – June 2014

Principals – Rob Russakoff and Glenn Connelly

Number of orders filled per year – 175

Size of production facility – 20,000 square feet

Number of employees – 15 year-round, with an additional 20 seasonal employees

One Response to Factory Floor: Tribal Boards

  1. This is really interesting! We were involved in building the paddleboarding community in Nashville, TN before people here knew what it was. We were one of the first outfitters in the market, before we dissolved that business to focus on Nashville Brand Company. We now keep a finger on the pulse through clients in the paddleboarding industry, like the local outfitter Nashville Paddle, PaddleFit which is a training organization with international ties, Jimmy Lewis Boards, Northern SUP in Canada and a very active MeetUp group known as Paddle Adventures Unlimited. We’re definitely going to learn more about Tribal Boards!

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