There's definitely lots of truth in what you say..... and as Acqua G. stated, the niche guys are doing ok..... not good...... ok. And yes, California is fortunate compared to other areas, even over Hawaii, which is very unique and the mythical mecca of it all.
Hawai'i is also an island chain that is the furthest from any continent in the world. My wife, a retired flight attendant, told me there is what they call "the point of no return" when you fly to Hawaii.... she said "it's known as that because you cannot get back with the fuel you have if something happens". I imagine it's all related to tail & headwinds and such. Obviously the airlines don't want travelers to have ever heard the term. The point is, any island based manufacturer is faced with expensive import of materials as well as the expense of shipping from such a remote place....... it's not competitive and never will be.
Some of what has happened with the niche market is developing specific 'looks' that are achieved in the glassing process, colored hotcoats and sanding that give the boards a unique look. That different look is vital to cultivating more business....... you've seen them.... Almond, McCallum, Lovelace, and other such boards that are being marketed in an alternative manner to attract that niche customer base. Those looks are not immediately privy to mass production methods, although if there is enough incentive, just about any attempt to being different will come under fire and compromised.
The one thing that keeps someone coming back to the same manufacturer is customer service. This is something that is difficult for cheap offshore companies to adequately satisfy a discerning customer that (still) desires interaction with the builder. The big corporate companies offer deep lines of models on every kind of surfboard known to man, and they have apps and websites that allow you to 'build your own custom', but it's still not the same thing, and if you go into one of those sites and build a custom, you will blow your mind how fast the price piles up into what you are seeking.
I have stated that i am very fortunate in having a very high number of repeat customers & quiver builders. A lot of those customers were on Firewires, Merrick M-13's, Rusty's, Lost and Beckers..... among other brands. They told me the reason they are repeatedly buying from me is because I am receptive to their needs, help them determine what will be best for them from what I currently make, and if they need something different, I will make it custom for them while assuring good quality at a fair price with quick delivery. I receive many inquiries and lots of questions from people all over the world, and when a customer apologizes for asking so many questions, I tell them not to say they are sorry for wanting to receive good customer service........ that it may be dead somewhere else, but that isn't the case with me. I'm a manufacturer coming from a retail background that went to college. If you treat your customers like gold, they will tell their friends and/or let them ride what you have made them...... word of mouth and representing you by allowing a friend to try their board is more powerful than any paid advertisement or pro endorsement out there....... word of mouth is the ultimate "influencer".
So at the end of the day there are the Nordstroms & the Wal Marts...... and then you have Amazon, that is hell bent & fixated on taking over the world.
News at 11.
There are many Shapers who keep plugging away at it. Paying the rent and employing 2 or 3 people to sand glass etc. I am amazed every time I go down to the Ghetto to hang out with Pete C and Terry Senate. On a Sat his little hole in the wall gets so many people coming thru to talk to him about a custom it’s crazy. But Terry can shape anything and is excellent with people, so that goes a long way. I did much better in the saturated market of Maui than I do here in Oregon. Where 80% of the folks with Mercedes SUV’s and boards on top can hardly paddle and are content with a Boardworks Thai piece o shit.
PS. They don’t even liked to be called Surfers!
Make way for the Mc Surf Shop. The corporate surf shop is coming. I can see it coming. Kelly might lead the charge on this one. They will be little mini malls for all things surf. Big inventories of “surfer” brands. Must have back to school be cool look like a surfer clothing. All the best boards made by lost, CSI and a few others. Your local shaper will for he most part be locked out. Your production won’t be enough to meet the demands of our 25 shops. We demand a 90 days net. If your Boards don’t sell, you must drop the price so we can unload them at steeper discounts.
Oh and we will have a lock on internet sales. Some kid needs a new wet suit order it off our web page delivered to his or her local “ McShop. “ try it on in the shop if it’s a fit it’s sold if not buy another size shipping is free. While you wait check out our new stomp pads. 7 out of ten Pros use it. Take a look at the new Boards , the Jefferson airship will ad 2.3 feet to your airs ! Best Board ever of doing Flying batwing heal side reverse air. Flip and head dip. It’s a McShop exclusive. Hugo Duff the top rated Surfer from Idaho designed it.
Yes this is the future some privet equity firm is already at work. Loans to the big Board Builders , making deals with all the big clothing companies. Factories across Asia are gearing up. China predicts a shortage of Child labor in 5 years. They plan to stop executing degenerates to make up for the shortage. McShop the only place to buy your surfer life style. We mean it. We have your on line profile if you buy from someone else we will know.
This future is brought to you by unsalted wavepool country clubs combing to a very upper class gated community near you.
According to Mikki Dora Malibu went to the Dogs in 1964. The Chumash Indians will tell you it was 1664.
It's obvious that Aus and US have the same surf industry problems....IE cheap imports from Asia ....... IMO , the best way to deal is to licence your product to a competent manufacturer in another country , therefore creating more business and more new local jobs in that country , and vice versa . I would certainly consider doing it in another country if a competent woodworker was interested........and I would also be interested in manufacturing overseas products in Aus , if I thought the product would get some sales .......wood only
Some how i wish I could just wake up and it was all just a dream and I was back in this guy's era.
Who is he? What did he accomplish? Does he really hold two patents?
Did he really shape the bulk of Yater Spoons back when???
Where is he n-o-w-?
Paso Robles last I heard. He could shape a better Spoon than Yater himself. Never met him, but rode one of his boards from the early '90's that I bought at CCS/SLO.
...hi DS; regarding what you say about to how to s with the customers etc; I have OPPOSITE experience. I live in a place where the customers do not be accostumed to a great treat; not be eductaed to perceive integrity or ethic.
Never had a good experience when I phone called and asked about the board; I mean, the person did not warmed that service; did not like it actually, I guess.
Is all luck and be in the right place; here is not the right place. The example is this guy that you mentioned: Lovelace; he started here (Swaylocks) and now, the other day, I read, that he is one of the shapers that sell more (25 boards per week) do not know if that s true but shows what I try to express.
Other that kind of started in this forum is Mandala; this other guy is a lower profile guy but he shapes (he only shapes) plenty of boards; designs that are totally outdated and that you never see in the water; like McCallum et all but the guys are from California (if they were from Florida or North Carolina nothing would happened)
The thing is that they sell a pose and image to the new hipsters and it s work; due to they move in groups; where each guy are good in something media oriented, so between all they can make a great selling product (image, design, video; clothes; fashion, marketing; associated activities; right contacts; fine glassers; right pose and very good surfers among money)
I do not have instagram but you can see how they move pretty good there; all together. Even this guy Tudor, that now makes¿? boards. Of course not but all think yes.
And a bunch of other examples.