When you enter the factory, your senses are immediately bombarded by this harsh world. Your ears ring from the sounds of planners and other power tools. Foam dust covers some areas like a sticky snow. The smell of resin fills the air. After stepping into the factory, one
quickly understands that this is not a user-friendly job. But then one views the racks of new boards and the magic begins. A surfer imagines themselves cruising down the line on a longboard, slashing on a shortboard, or speeding on a glassy face on their new fish. This is it folks! This is where the magic starts!
Fish Nets, Woodstock, and an Industrial Park
Many years ago, I was surfing for a major surfboard company on the East Coast. I entered a contest in Virginia Beach and at the contest site I ran into some friends. One of them was Erie Peeples. Erie proudly displayed a board he was riding in the event and with the first glance I am sure my face could clearly show my dismay. The board seemed chunky and poorly designed. Well, somehow Erie rode the board to the finals and did not look back. Over time, I became a bit disillusioned with my sponsor and I watched as my friends who had joined Erie’s team were having the time of their lives. Erie was shaping them boards and they were painting them and glassing such things as Peanuts characters onto the boards. The boards were looking better and better by the day too. Finally one day I asked Erie to shape me a board and I wanted to just try one. I took it out and it was like magic! To this day, when I step off my old board and take out a new one, there is no down time between boards trying to figure out how to make it work. I can paddle out a fresh board and within minutes surf it like it was months old. After riding the very first board, I knew I had to quit my current team even though on the outside it seemed like a dumb move.
Thus, I joined a few of my buddies who were already surfing for Erie Surfboards. The original guys were Doug Dittmer, Scott Higgins, and Brian Howard. At this period, the founding team was born and it marked the beginning of a long relationship that continues to this day. I am amazed when I think back on Erie shaping in an industrial park in a little storage room. I think back on Brian Howard cutting out Woodstock characters out of pillow cases and having them glassed onto the boards. I laugh too when I think of how many boards featured the airbrush flavor the month which involved fish nets. Now the operation is much, much bigger but the sense of family still remains.
Now days Erie is shaping many different kind of boards in a very modern factory. You can get many different models of boards, wake skates, and Stand Up Paddleboards as well. Even with the growth, community is still one of the core values of Erie Surfboards. There have been fund-raisers and parties thrown to raise money for people in need in the community and Erie also runs a surf school to spread the stoke of surfing to kids who want to learn how to surf.
As a team rider for Erie Surfboards, one can say this post is a blatant advertisement for Erie Surfboards. You are somewhat correct! I wrote this for another reason. That is because there are many shapers in different towns across the globe that are just like Erie. Behind the shapers there is an equally important team that rarely gets the recognition. Glassers, polishers, airbrushers – all of which are true craftsmen. You see, there is an experience that one gets when they visit a surfboard factory. One gets to see what actually goes into creating a surfboard. The surfer gets to speak with a shaper and watch as their board goes from an idea to a finely tuned craft. As they walk out of the factory, they know that this board was made just for them.
Sadly, a segment of the surfing population will never know this. That is because the market is being flooded by “pop-outs”. A pop-out is a board that is mass-produced from a factory overseas and shipped to foreign markets. The difference between the craftsmanship can be compared to a desk mass-produced in a factory as compared to the craftsmanship of an old desk before they were mass-produced. Which one has value over the years? Surely not the mass-produced desk from Taiwan.
The guy in the above picture is team rider, Brandon Fraley, surfing on the gulf coast.
So if you are looking for a new board, visit your local shaper! A custom surfboard is something every surfer should experience. If you are interested in an Erie Surfboard, please visit the website at: http://www.eriesurfboards.com/ or send an e-mail to: email@example.com
Please also pressure Erie to complete his website!
You can also inquire about the surf school if you are in the Central Florida area.