By Liz White, UT staffLos Angeles, California-Former employees of surfboard blank maker Clark Foam have set up a new company to make foam for the sector. The new operation says it will be using both polyurethane foam, as Clark did, but will also be offering the choice of two types of polystyrene foam. Kim Thress and Jeff Holtby, who together had over 40 years experience with Clark Foam, announced 1 March that they were setting up a new company- 'US Blanks'. The operation said it will have as partners Ted Wilson of Fiberglass Hawaii, a supplier of fibreglass and resin to the surf industry, and Gordon Merchant, a surfboard designer and founder of a leading surf company. Thress and Holtby will handle day- to-day management of the new operation, and have hired other ex Clark employees, including a number of expert former Clark production workers."Having supplied the majority of the surfing industry with what was considered the world's highest quality foam blanks for decades, this group looks well placed to pick up where Clark left off," said a statement from the new company. "We've all been doing this a long time, and have figured out just what the customers want, and we have the know-how to provide it" said president Kim Thress. "Right now, our number one priority at US Blanks, is to get a quality foam blank back out into the market place as quickly as possible, at a very competitive price, and to help the industry stabilise and move forward with confidence," he added. Gordon Clark closed his Laguna Niguel firm-which supplied PU blanks to make some 60 percent of the US surf industry's boards-abruptly in December 2005, blaming over-regulation in California, and worker compensation and disability issues, largely relating to use of TDI-toluene diisocyanate-to make its polyurethane foam products.US Blanks claims its operation will "meet and exceed all governmental & environmental regulations and requirements," and added that PU foam production "has been moved to a more suitable location in California." The firm will offer its own polyurethane foam-which it says gives the highest level of physical properties required by a surfboard-"developed, tested and proven over decades." But US Blanks said it will also make polystyrene foams, either moulded in various densities, or as an extruded material. "