|| What started as a trip to the beach has grown from infatuation into obsession. Surfing, traveling, and creating is ANIÁN. ANIÁN creates the highest quality of Canadian made clothing and gear.||
Bio: Where are you from, where do you live, major influences, favorite shape, biggest factor affecting the shaping industry, when did you start surfing and shaping.
I was born on Long Island in New York, USA. My dad got a job selling printing presses just at the end of the print era; when things burnt out we moved to Alberta, which is where my parents were from. When I finished high school I got on a flight to FIJI. A year later I went back to Alberta, picked up my best friend Matt, who was a year younger and moved to Ucluelet. At that time I purchased 3 blanks off Aftanas; that was the start of board shaping for me. From then till now it’s a string of surf trips, weird jobs, and shaping boards in weird work spaces. My Favorite board is one that makes me feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. The biggest factors affecting the shaping industry are:
1) Do people care that surfboards are toxic
2) Do people care that working conditions in Thailand are un-safe
3) Do people care that having a shaper in your community can add value to your community.
Q: Thanks for sitting down with us. When did you shape your first board?
A: 2006 I think. I got some blanks off Aftanas, and then went at it.
Q: How many times did it take for you to realize that you wanted to do this as a profession?
A: It was more of a falling into it. I was starting to get fairly good at it, and then my good friend and now business partner Paul said “let’s start a surf brand”. I was hesitant at first but when I day dream about it, I got excited, so we went for it.
Q: What did you use to shape your first board?
A: A 4-inch sure form, some sand paper, and a spoke shave.
Q: When you started shaping boards, was there a lot of competition?
A: I don’t know. I didn’t look at who the competitors were until just recently when things became more serious.
Q: Biggest difficulty you’ve had to overcome shaping boards in Victoria, BC.
A: Good work spaces to laminate! You need a spot with good ventilation. For a long time I was doing everything out of a shed that we build but the ventilation was basically non-existent. As things picked up and we moved to an old automotive shop in the highlands. That meant ventilation but then heat became a big problem, a really big problem. I’ve started to only make boards in Victoria during the warmer months and I take shaping road trips to warmer places in the winter, which works for me because I get a surf trip out of it.
Q: What does your shop look like now?
A: The shaping bay downtown is a shed with basic racks and lights. The summer time lam shop looks like a mini glassing house.
Q: You’ve got a pretty solid team with you, who does what at your shop?
A: Well it’s still just Paul and I, but a bunch of the boys help out when they can. I do every thing surfboards, as well as media content/ sales and distribution, and around 50 percent of event coordination for happenings at the Yard. Paul handles clothing design and production management, which when you factor in material sourcing is quite the task. We split watching the shop fairly evenly.
Q: Greatest accomplishment
A: Woo, tough one… opening the store was a pretty big one. We really jumped into it! I don’t think I was ready for it but looking back it’s crazy to think that we pulled it off.
Q: Do you have a set of team riders? If so, who are they?
A: Not really. I get some great feed back quite a few guys and it’s keeping the progression going
Q: What’s it like getting feedback from customers?
A: Great! I love it when someone gets back to me; good, bad, delirious with stoke. Getting feed back from customers is such valuable information. I’ve been thinking about offering discounts if you promise to tell me how things are going after ten surfs or so.
Q: What shapes have you developed based on their inputs?
A: The only board in our line up that was not build while considering customer feed back was the hot chip, that’s because Paul and I have been working on that board together for 3 years or so. Every other board is a few people coming together to fit a need.
Q: Is it hard to take when someone criticizes your work?
A: Oh yea. To be honest I’ve never had surfboard criticism that was not constructive, but the brand it’s self has for sure, and that’s hard to take, and usually confusing.
Q: Have things ever gotten physical?
A: Haha Not really sure what that means.
Q: There’s a lot going on in a shaping bay, what’s the worst injury that’s happened to you while shaping boards?
A: If I scrape out more than about ten boards in ten days my palms get rubbed raw, it’s not really very bad. After a little while I get a callus and it makes me feel legit haha
Q: Now with a bit more competition in board construction around Vancouver Island, what are you trying to do personally to stay a step ahead of the game?
A: Machines can make surfboards, what you pay me for is my knowledge, sitting down with me face to face, not a third party or a order sheet, but the guy who is going to make your board. I take making someone a board very seriously. If I do a poor job and don’t listen to what the person needs and ask the right questions, I could write of someone’s season. I’ve lost sleep thinking that I didn’t put enough rocker in a board or put to much foam in the tail. It’s all about a shapers/surfer relationship. Thus far its building a repeat customer base.
Q: Do you us a CNC machine? (If you answered no, If you had the opportunity to use one, would you?)
A: No, I like shaping boards. CNC machines make it possible to up your volume and make more money; if I were in it for the money I would not be making surfboards.
Q: What are some pros and cons about a CNC machine?
A: I don’t know, I don’t give them much thought
Q: How has the surf industry changed, in your opinion, since you started shaping?
A: Boards have gotten fatter and flatter and shorter
Q: Epoxy or polyester? What do you prefer?
A: I only do polyester
Q: Shaping surfboards is a pretty toxic trade, what do you do to keep your environmental impact as low as possible?
A: Dust control and fume control. Surfboards are toxic. I would like to make all the fun shapes using a Danny Hess style construction within the next 5 years or so.
Q: In 1 year, how many boards do you think you pump out of your shop?
A: In 2014 I did 84.
Q: Do you do much traveling? If so, where?
A: I used to travel a lot, then I opened a shop and I’m tied down. I take winter shaping vacations to the states a few times a year.
Q: Being a surfboard shaper your quiver must be pretty big, what are your go to boards right now?
A: I ride a Mini Simmons and some short boards and some wired experimental things.
Q: What do you think about scientists trying to bring back and clone the Woolly Mammoth?
A: Props if you can pull that one off! You deserve to put a saddle on that thing and ride into the sunset.
Q: Biggest fear
A: Being squashed by Lego pieces in space. It’s been a weird dream that I have had all my life, absolutely terrifying.
Q: Any words of advice to shapers just starting out?
A: Why do you want to make a board? If it is because you want a board to ride, copy someone’s shapes. If it’s a fun project, do whatever.
Q: What can we expect in the future from ANIAN MFG?
A: I want to make our fun shapes in a more sustainable way. You can expect to see some prototypes in the next 5 years. We are also working on a natural fiber outdoor clothing line; you can expect to see us make more and more things out of wool.
Q: Any last words?
A: Hmm, respect if you had the patience to read this whole interview and make it to this bit.
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