October 3, 2008 - You made an inquiry as to board sales at the time. I'm really suprise that not more people commented on this subject?
However this is more of a DIY forum with bits and pieces of information at an industry level as well as very few industry people comment on swaylocks.
I was very optimistic at the time this subject was posted. Despited my postive outlook the economy fell apart.
Sales are down by at least 60% if not more in some markets. With the warming of the water currents and south swells around the corner just maybe a few will add a fresh one to their quivers. Customers in the past would be in every 3 months for a fresh one now it's like every 6 months. Surfers are riding their boards longer before replacing them. Plus with all the compsands and epoxies their is less of a need for board replacements as frequent.
Work is really slow to nonexistent. Retailers that would normally be placing Summer orders about right now, are still sitting on a lot of unsold inventory. It's pretty much a custom order thing for now. I'd say most folks are pretty spooked about the economy and aren't buying anything and if they are, a new surfboard is the last thing on their list.
I can't sell a board to save my own ass.
Some of the shapers are working part time jobs at pizza parlors?
surfding wrote: Some of the shapers are working part time jobs at pizza parlors?
I don't think "Biggest Loser" will run out of applicants anytime soon!
As far as the great woldwide economic slowdown thereby essentially shutting down surfboard production for 97%+ of the boardbuilders, keep in mind that there are many factors that attribute to the slowdown and eventual demise of boardbuilding on our planet. The ability and widespread incorporation of CNC milling of infintessimal models has contributed to the glut of product that now sits in the racks of every shop hroughout the world. This approach also made it easier for a relatively untrained flunky to scrub out cuts in 15 minutes and also allowed anyone with the money and hankering to be a shaper to grab their favorite real shaper's board and have it scanned. Unlike SD here, there are plenty of scnning services that will scan any board you choose to bring in. Grab a Merrick, Rusty, Stretch, yours or mine and come on down......for a few hundred we will scan it, retain the program so you are a captive customer, and you too can scrub out and sign YOUR NAME HERE.
God I'm a famous shaper now..........so good.
What was lost along the way?
It still comes down to branding. Without marketing and all the hype you will never sell any boards to make a real difference. Yes there are a lot of guy's that grab famous boards and make them into a cad program. Copy rockers, outlines, bottom contours and so on and attempt to do the rail profile. Yes they have them cut and their close however usually screw them up with the finish shape. You still need to know how to clean them up off the machine. I won't cut there files, not on my machine!
Some of the team boards for the larger board builders are very refine even off the machine. There are shapers with 35 plus years that spend over an 1hour tuning the preshape for guys on the WQS or the WCT. 15 minutes after they are milled for shop orders is pretty common for production shapers. They need to eat. A lot of the ghost shapers in the bigger shops have 20 plus years shaping and shape boards without a machine cut with no problem whatsoever. It's highly unlikely that there are unskilled finish shapers at Channel
Island. It's hard to get a job as a finish shaper in most factories.
There is a big glut of surfboards because there are so many businessmen that surf and are bored with their day jobs. Having their foot in the surf industry masturbates their EGOS. So you have guy's making 1,000's of boards and filling shops on the cheap (Volume Pricing). Most of those boards will not get bought by anybody that knows how to surf and will most likely yellow on the rack.Thus Custom orders are alive and well.
As far as the great worldwide economic slowdown thereby essentially
shutting down surfboard production for 97%+ of the board builders, keep
in mind that there are many factors that attribute to the slowdown and
eventual demise of board building on our planet. The ability and
widespread incorporation of CNC milling of infinitesimal models has
contributed to the glut of product that now sits in the racks of every
shop throughout the world. This approach also made it easier for a
relatively untrained flunky to scrub out cuts in 15 minutes and also
allowed anyone with the money and hankering to be a shaper to grab their favorite real shaper's
board and have it scanned. Unlike SD here, there are plenty of scanning
services that will scan any board you choose to bring in. Grab a
Merrick, Rusty, Stretch, yours or mine and come on down......for a few
hundred we will scan it, retain the program so you are a captive
customer, and you too can scrub out and sign YOUR NAME HERE.
CNC technology has been around for many decades. Surfboard Manufacturing was one of the last hold outs. Now the Genie is out of bottle. If there wasn't cnc milling machines there would be more shaping rooms in Asian factories, There are shapers over there that shape 10 boards a day from a raw blank. No cnc. The boards that are made on the cnc are for an extra charge. It's cheaper to have a hand shape than a cnc milled board. As far as guy's with money coming in with Merricks to have them scanned I haven't seen them? Maybe that's what they do up north? This winter I had like 10 scans for the whole season. Every board that I scanned was from the actual shaper. In five months that's peanuts then you consider the cost of the ablitity to even scan and it will take 10 years to break even. Plus it takes months to get paid. Scanning surfboards is not a good business model. There are better things to scan for much larger profits. We don't scan any boards without the shapers consent so there's no funny money. I'm lucky to still have my bills paid. I believe most cutting services that are able to scan do the same practice, (PROCAMM, KKL) only scan the actual shaper's board for that shaper. Most scanning services keep your scan and you can only cut your file with them. On the other hand I give the customer his files and he is free to cut his boards on any machine anywhere he wants to it's his property. If there are cutting services that scan boards without consent of the shaper then that's bad Karma. Now on the other hand I'm sure that there are garage guys with a cad program manually mapping boards of legitimate shapers and claiming it as their own design? These guy's will never get anywhere. Yes they can be a pest to the local board building community.
To break out and really shine takes star power. To make it as a shaper or board builder is like trying to make it as a movie star in Hollywood. One can only dream.
In the meantime to be a good custom board builder is key to survival in any market. Some of the Custom board builders (Not big brands) in San Clemente are doing just fine and striving even in this economy. They all have 30 plus years shaping experience. So some new guy walking in and starting some brand and making any impact is highly unlikely down south, however maybe it's different in SB? You still need to be a good board designer and that you can't learn that from a CAD program. The software is only a tool. You still need to shape a board for yourself or a good surfer = feedback + redesign + feedback + refine + feedback = proven model
Quality Assurance is also vital. The wannabe board builder will have a constant battle with Quality that will set him back. We need to stay focused on our own gigs and not worry about the guy's without scruples. In the meantime keep making good boards like you always have and you will come out a head in the end. This economy can't stay like this forever and if it does what does any of his matter anyway?
Good words ding! As you and I have discussed, I know the proper place for anything I scan with you and why that behooves me in the sense of energy, time spent, and ultimate output. Ideally CNC represents to me the ability to take designs and focus on refinement or tweaking a standard of mine and evolving that design into something better for the consumer. It can also be a huge plus for a very sophisticated design that has many tansitions and is labor intensive but I still desire to produce it and offer it to the public.
Yes, copying machines aka CNC milling machines have been around since the 50's. My first sight of a "shaping machine" was at Bahne back up on the hill in Encinitas. But there was also Hovde, Hynsn, and Steve Moret cranking out incredible handshaped custom and "Peter Pinliner and Wayne and Grub (the polisher) producing the highest quality surfboards on the planet. And if anyone else was, it was Chanin and Dif, right next door.
I came to you because (other than wanting to dump all that foam) you promised me my programs would be mine. Your stable of designers is impressive and incomparable. My only question to you is that if my programs are cut by someone closer to me (like I Shape in Ventura), can they 'copy' my program then have access to it? Is that possible. Not saying Spence and Malcolm (think its M) would even do that.........but say another cutter less scrupulous...........or are the cutters REALLY holding the ethical ground here even during hard times?
I suppose if any one is determined enough they could rip a design off. What was the debate here some time back "Intellectual Property"? A rich brat could take a board, sand the logo off, reglass and bring in for scanning. "NIce" ....."Yup, it's my new design"............
So who's keeping wo honest? Then again what stops Boardworks or Surftech from buying a board off the shelf and.............minus the royalties.
I know you are the eternal optimist.......as am I..........but I also think it is sensible to broach these subjects.
Believe it or not your post is pretty inspiring. It's tough out there right now but this is what I do. The fact that, at the end of the day, skill will over ride all the current industry issues, makes me glad I do what I do. It can't stay like this forever either. I just don't understand, when you have a great deal of experience, how some people still think they are going to reinvent the wheel cheaper and think they know more than the craftsman. This logic never ceases to amaze me. I get innovation. That's what this industry is all about. But cheaper wages and materials equals lower quality products. I've got to tell myself, every day, that the cream eventually rises to the top. Oh yeah, and good marketing.
Z (and Ding)
Quality and..........delivery. I'm in agreement with the innovation and quality comments by Z.
I'm comforted by SD's response on codes for protection.........you have to be skeptical about propriety in hard times. The ability to faithfully reproduce one of your own originals is a boon (good feature) to the shaper. Particularly a bonfide designer that puts counntless hours developing an original design. The ability to scale that design to varying sizes and to even change the design within the program is very attractive.
Grunt labor is grunt labor. I was explaining some history to a client yesterday about the difference between the earlier day shapers and someone that started after Clark implemented "close tolerance" blanks. The chief difference is the early day shapers know how to "read foam" and "restructure" a blank to create what they need from it. This ability netted a strong but light board. The inability to do so meant a board that was prone to dinging and/or delmainating esp. on the deck, and even boards that would be more susceptible to snapping.
Understanding this concept helped many early day shapers become credible designers. Let's call it a mental exercise in understanding the parameters of what each blank inherently possessed. We learned to respect the blank. That may seem like a strange or esoteric statement, but the guys from my era will understand what this means.
In this new era of slick marketing, fifty thousand cutesy model names and neat logos, the ability to produce quality remains important to the surfers in the know. I don't exclude surfers that are younger that still discern over getting a quality product, but I have to say that to a higher degree, the guys that are a bit older (I'm being kind here, dinosaurs) want and appreciate quality that much more. Sure, there will always be the type of person that wants cheap uses it, and throws it away, but a lot of the guys (and some women) that I shape for, want a great riding board that doesn't disintegrate in 6 months.
Does this mean they must go to a hunk of EPS with PVC skins and paint jobs that chip? No. There is some terrific foam out there now; both in PU and EPS. The resin systems in boh polyester and epoxy have dramatically improved. I can make a ridiculously strong board with everyday materials w/o the hi tech price tag. So can many others if they desire to do so. This is up to the craftsman, but you have to care enough about what you make.
The chief problem for many....and I am surprised by this, given our current challenges, is the age old slow as a constipated turtle delivery that many guys still cop to. Also the many, many guys that are under the impression that they will make enough dough just shaping to equal a loaf of bread to feed themselves, their kid, or their goldfish for that matter. Some do, but that is the exception to the norm. How many of you shape at least 20 boards each and every week and net $50 per shape? This is just a basic guideline, of course everyone has different sets of expenses and needs.
Welcome to today. Market share is fought over like gladiators in ancient Rome. Branding is better than ever by people with deep pockets, income from alternative sources, along with bored execs that surf, and ttrustfunders...the list is endless. So out they come, in droves, new models that aren't any different than it's predessor (other than the new logo), constantly being introduced in mags and on the internet.
Fact: Each product goes through a cycle in it's lifetime:
To avoid decline, the "New & Improved" is developed as a product reaches Maturity. Even if it is only new packaging on the same old bar of soap inside................"New & Improved Tide"?
So the bottom line here is to be innovative, treat your customers as individuals, charge a fair price, produce quality and DELIVER.
..and if you are one of those guys that hates what China produces, promote GLASS ON FINS on everything you make...........this will screw with them when it comes time to load the containers. ;)
if you are one of those guys that hates what China produces, promote
GLASS ON FINS on everything you make...........this will screw with
them when it comes time to load the containers. ;)
Your alway's thinking!