state of an industry Oct12

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state of an industry

I was asked the following question in an interview & my answer never got published….but I thought I’d share it with you anyway … so … here’s the question,

“If _______________ went away I think the future of design would be much better.”

This was my response:

If needy egos and attitudes of entitlement went away I think the future of design would be much better.

I have been blessed with clients that are really stoked, enthusiastic, and supportive of the way we go about board building. The niche I have in this industry is a relatively small one comparatively….

I am happy with that and do not desire to grow to the point where I am twice removed from the actual people I am making boards for. I enjoy the personal side of it.

So, I guess you could say I am sheltered in a way from what goes on out there in the dog-eat-dog world of who’s who; and the energies that are spent on striving how to make your indelible mark as a member of the inner circle.

But, I do see what goes on out there and there are some things that concern me for the future of board design. Sure, I guess you could say, “let’s take away cheap Chinese labor, or get rid of molded board technology….or let’s not allow another Clark Foam to sweep in and monopolize any area of the surfboard world.”, but that doesn’t really strike at the heart of the issue.

I think it is always good to take a look at our motivations; why do we do what we do?

I see a cycle that has gone on for some time that is detrimental to the progression of surfboard design. I see it as a two-fold issue: the first being that there is a mentality out there with many surfers that shapers ought to work for next to nothing and give bro deals to anyone who surfs halfway good or knows another “bro”. I have seen more shapers than I care to mention that have skipped out on paying taxes, run a factory way under code, skimped on materials quality, held out on paying their employees what they ought, put in long hours year after year resulting in their wives leaving them…..and for what? So surfers can have a board made for them for so cheap that they can say to other people yea, ….I got my board for such and such a price. This ain’t cool….and it stems from an entitlement mindset which is very sad to me.

The other side of this is the shapers. More often than not, I believe shapers want so bad to see their boards out and about that they are willing to play into what I call the “more more cheaper cheaper” death cycle of board building…..this is an over needy ego that thinks it’s going to be satisfied by catering to people that will, in the end leave for the next cheaper or cooler image driven thing.

This whole ugly cycle hinders good boards from being built. It results in less hours for the shaper to spend on dialing boards in and it breeds poor quality work in employees that build the boards, and it drives the use of quality materials and innovation out the door. I believe that this is the reason we have all this China/ Thailand/ outsource talk that goes on. Because the margins have been pushed to breaking in many cases and so a foolish alternative has been found in outsourced industries for the simple fact that board manufacturers won’t have to pay as much to build the boards, and because pollution regulations/ requirements are low to nil there.

And while I’m harping away, as a sidenote….we wonder why this country is in a recession/ depression. It is simple business…you’ve got to bring in more than goes out. This principle applies on a national scale too. Every time businesses move oversees and everytime you purchase something outsourced, there is an economy elsewhere that is being supported. This will actually over time directly affect you and your family so it is good to think about it….even if you don’t want to. I know I don’t enjoy thinking about this stuff, but these are important things.

So what you gotta do is to ask yourself, “Well what am I supporting then by putting money into an economic system elsewhere?”

Is it a  government that turns a blind eye to pollution and the largest child sex slavery rings in the world? …..you may say, I’m not really supporting that am I….I’m not really doing any harm am I….it’s only a surfboard….
Being able to make things cheeper so Americans can buy more stuff doesn’t help a thing.

What does help is when people take their God-given talents, apply a proper work ethic and care enough to make something of quality that blesses others.

Surfboard progression comes from shapers innovating their designs and technologies through close knit interaction with the surfers they make boards for….and that’s something of value