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"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

The Beginning
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.

The Next Level

Following nearly five 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 move out of his home based workshop and into a larger facility to expand productions significantly. The demand has continued to increase as word spreads about Little Bay Boards. Today you can still find Jason, working on custom boards and creating new concepts to continue the growth of Little Bay Boards. Stop by and say hello!

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Working with Jason was fantastic and I could not be happier with the board he designed and created. We spoke at length about how I would be using it and I mentioned my son is my shadow, he’s with me all the time. Jason used that piece of info and made sure the board he crafted for me would also accommodate an enthusiastic eight-year old! He and I were out the other day for a ride and Lake Charlevoix was a little choppy, but I would have never noticed because the ride was so smooth and I was able to paddle effortlessly through through the water. I’m looking forward to many more happy summers on the lake with my Little Bay Board! This board NEVER fails to get attention!
— Melissa