"Changing the look, the feel and the ride."
Jason Thelen, Artist & Boardbuilder
"Building Your Dreams" It's more than just a saying, it's our mission
It’s only natural Jason Thelen feels a deep rooted connection the the natural world. He lives on the shores of Lake Michigan and the heavily wooded lands of northern Michigan. He is also the great-great-great grandson of Chief Petoskey, a legendary figure amongst the native Odawas and the namesake of a both a town and Michigan’s state stone--a fossil as unique as the boards hand-crafted by Jason.
It started with a simple request from his then nine-year old daughter, she wanted a paddleboard, but she didn’t want one bought from the store. As a master carpenter Jason knew he could create something as special and as one-of-a-kind as his daughter. In the spring of 2012 production began on his first custom Stand Up Paddle Board.
It quickly became clear his creation struck a chord when people began gathering around his car to admire his daughter’s SUP. “Where can I get one” soon led to the creation of Little Bay Boards and a side project developed into a full-fledged business, based out of his dad’s makeshift workshop/garage.
A Lesson in Science
As a carpenter and craftsmen working for his father-in-law’s energy efficient construction company, Jason knew the importance of sourcing material carefully and the science behind every eco-friendly home they built. A little research into wooden surfboards led him to strike up a relationship with Paul Jensen, the man who perfected the craft of building hollow, wooden surfboards.
The pair discussed paddleboard structure, focusing on the difference between buoyancy on freshwater versus saltwater, waves driven by wind not tides and the calculations needed for lake-specific boards.
Following nearly 5 years and over 60 custom orders, Jason realized that his art had become his true passion, and the demand for his boards had grown beyond his wildest dreams. He decided to seek out a business partner, someone who could help take the small company to the next level and enable him to focus solely on his art and creativity. Following many inquiries and meetings, he decided to team up with a local acquaintance and businessman. In the Spring of 2017, Jason Thelen along with partner Jason Septic officially launched Little Bay Boards LLC in a new, larger production facility in Petoskey, Michigan. The expanded space has allowed the duo to expand productions significantly and is enabling the company to become far more than the founder had ever imagined.