Month Of The Shaper: Jeff Bushman

posted by / News / November 19, 2008

Editor’s Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time: North Shore gun specialist Jeff Bushman.

Name: Jeff Bushman
Home: Sunset Beach, Hawaii
Years Shaping: 29
Boards per week: 30
Specialty: Boards for the North Shore and quality waves around the world

Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?

Clark Foam closing dramatically changed the surfboard business forever. Its closing would not have had as much impact if we would have had some notice. Gordon Clark “sold out” the very industry that made him a very wealthy man, leaving everyone scrambling for foam. A couple of years down the road now we are all shaping higher quality foam and have experimented with a wide variety of materials. In the end, Clark’s closing help the industry evolve.

Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?

YES, PU foam and resin will stay the standard materials. All the others are more expensive, and harder to work with. There have been tremendous breakthroughs with EPS , epoxy and various new materials, but all require time, money and effort to develop.

Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?

The appreciation of a custom boards is increasing. The boom that surfing, “the art form” or “sport” has had in the last five years is amazing. Most of the beginners to surfing have been buying molded boards, of some sort, or big brand pop-outs. Most of my customers have been surfing five years or more and enjoy the process of custom-made equipment. {{{90}}}% of my business is custom. Although this is more time-consuming, it is more to the core and soul of surfing. The North Shore may be one of the last places where shapers are available for custom boards. This may be in part to the very high level of surfing going on in Hawaii.

Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?

Quads have been an interesting diversion. It is always fun to create alternative surfboards. There is a large percentage of the surfers that have only ridden tri-fins, so anything different is an exciting change. Please remember we all rode quads in the late ’80s . Designs come and go, fishes, funboards, longboards, singles, quads…they all create a different awareness on the wave. This is the wonder of surfing, go ride any design, just have fun and enjoy the magic of the ocean.

What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?

I have been very lucky, living and surfing on the North Shore. My business really hasn’t change in 20 years. 90% is custom orders, there are six stores that carry my boards in Hawaii. Internationally, I have been fortunate enough to shape in Austraila, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa, thus making my boards available worldwide, while controlling the quality.

If it hasn’t already, will your surfboard production ever have to go overseas?

You probably mean CHINA? I’m not making boards in China, although this seems to be the method for the large manufacturers. At some point most of the domestic market will be manufactured in Asia due the rising costs to manufacture anywhere else.

How much time do you spend on a single board now?

The time spent on a single board now is probably the same as always. Talking with the customer, designing on the computer, finishing the blank, it all takes time.

Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?

My approach to the computer is to create “better” boards, not more boards. There is a balance of computer time and shaping room time.

How important is teamrider feedback to you?

Team rider feedback is invaluable. All feedback, from any riders is how we listen and learn. The concept is to be continually evolving and creating new and hopefully, better boards. This is the process that keeps shaping and designing exciting and fun.

What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?

I enjoy creating and working on all kind of different designs. This is the beauty of being in Hawaii, we ride every design, in a wide variety of surf.

How often do you get to surf?

I try to surf everyday in the winter, September to June. Summertime is alot of Stand Up paddling, kiting, and swimming. With the annual trip to J-Bay to break it up. If I did not surf, I would not be shaping, there are many other creative avenues to pursue.

Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?

Country Feeling Surfboards has been my latest project. Taking a greener approach to boards building. The label is as much about creating “awareness” and change , as it is about the boards. Please check it out at www.CountryFeelingSurfboards.com

MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler

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