Month Of The Shaper: Jeff “Doc” Lausch

posted by / News / December 1, 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: Surf Prescriptions’ Jeff “Doc” Lausch.

Name: Jeff “Doc” Lausch at Surf Prescriptions
Zone: Huntington Beach, California
Years Shaping: Over 30 years shaping, and 28 years at Surf Prescriptions
Boards Per Week: 35-40 right now. A little down but where we are for now.
Specialty: High performance thruster but lots of quads and fish-types.

SURFING MAGAZINE: BUSINESS BETTER OR WORSE SINCE THE CLARK FOAM CLOSURE?

2004 was my biggest year. We were doing like 70 boards a week and even that wasn’t enough. But since then it’s been one thing after another. And the board builders have it the worst. First we had the Clark Foam thing, where we had to get our foam together which was super gnarly. Then we had all the new production things coming out and mass production coming into the equation. I mean, the mass production has been coming in for a while, but it wasn’t name brand stuff, but now there’s name brands available that way. So board builders have had the triple hammer. The economy, the Clark closure and the overseas production. We have this triple whammy thing that we’re dealing with and it’s not easy. The other thing that’s super hard for us is our retail accounts are getting hit hard, too. Surfboards aren’t a big mark up for surf shops, so they’re last on the list. That’s kind of the state of where we are. So, understandably business is down, but I refuse to look at a half empty glass, so I think all this happening is really a good thing. It’s a good thing in a few different ways. It’s really made me get back to the roots of my business and making sure my tees are crossed. And I think my boards are coming out better than ever. It’s back to basics really. It’s like you said, real surfers still want a real board made by a real shaper that they know. That way they can be like, “Hey that last one was good, but I’ve put on 10 pounds, can we adjust it?” Or whatever little nuances that make our surfing experience more enjoyable. I’ll never say never, but I never want to say, ‘Well, here’s the specs on this model from last year, it was a good seller and give it to a manufacturer.” That’s a bummer. And I think the public needs to be educated and I think that’s what you can do. And keep guys like me, Timmy Patterson and the guys like us and even smaller guys who are fighting to pay bills in the picture. Keep us going because what a travesty that would be if we were gone. It would be a travesty for surfing as a whole.

DO YOU FEEL POLYURETHANE FOAM/POLYESTER RESIN WILL ALWAYS BE THE DOMINANT CONSTRUCTION?

I think so. I think the Styrofoam epoxy hand shaped boards work, too and some people like those. There are some qualities about those that work, but yeah I don’t think you can beat a fresh Polyester board, glassed light. And yeah, sure they’re not going to last as long but as far as performance and feel and sensitivity and repetition of a design and performance –– it’s unmatchable. I think there’s nothing better than that. All the other stuff is better in some ways, but it’s an apple and an orange. But I don’t think you can beat a really, crisp green apple with something else. It’s not going to happen.

ARE QUADS INCREASING OR DECLINING?

Well I do a board called a Toy, and because I’m doing so many of those that throws off the quad numbers because it comes in a quad so that skews the numbers. If I didn’t have the new toy model and I was doing the bat-tails and swallows, it would not be as big a percentage as it was. I’m still doing tons of them because of that model. But, take that model out and the percentage of quads is less now.

WHAT IS KEEPING YOU GUYS AFLOAT?

Well, for me, I have Surftech models, I have Aviso models, I’m doing Epoxy Pro’s and XTRs. So I’ve got a lot of avenues, but the main thing keeping me going would just be the combination of all that with custom orders. The diversity.

WOULD YOUR PRODUCTION GO OVER SEAS?

I get down on my knees and I pray every night that that doesn’t have to happen because it goes against everything I’m about. But like I said, I never say never, because I’ve still gotta feed my family. I’ve had offers, but I’ve got my own machine, I do everything in house. We’re so in-house that I don’t need to, were with a baord every step of the way, from the blank room to the customer. I could see someone who was just a shaper, who couldn’t glass and all that and how it would be attractive. But not for me.

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?

We listen to www.Pandora.com. Because it just keeps it fresh, no commercials. I’ll type in a band I’ve been thinking about and we just go on a trip for half of the day. It’s so epic. It’s unreal. Never have to listen to commercials and we just piped speakers in the back room so the music here has been great.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON A SINGLE BOARD?

I used to have a few ghost shapers, but I’m pretty much doing almost all of it myself now. I’m really hands on and in there every day more than I have been in a long time. I’m doing almost all of the boards. I design and get them cut and finish them up. My hands are on every board. I’ve got a guy who comes and helps and I want to keep him going, but I’m in there more than I have been in years.

HOW IMPORTANT IS TEAM RIDER FEEDBACK?

They’re more important than ever. I’ve got some guys doing great. It’s a way to quantify what you’re doing. They’re a double-edged sword though. They’re super hard to make happy, but when they’re happy its insane. But when they’re not unhappy it just forces me to step up to the plate and make better boards. I think the public benefits greatly from those pros who are picky. It also helps quantify the brand too. Everybody wants to look up to the guys in the magazine and be like, “Whoah, what’s he on? Whoah, a Doc? Cool, maybe Doc’s making good boards.”

WHAT KIND OF BOARD DO YOU ENJOY MAKING MOST?

I love doing those team rider boards that I know the guys will be super demanding on. The ultra high performance ones. The board that would be over the head of {{{90}}}% of surfing’s population. I dig doing those boards, but I also dig the diversity. Like that would be a bummer to make those all day. I dig the variety. I like doing a lot of diverse stuff, I have a board called a Thang, and some funky small wave boards and the occasional guns. I’m stoked about the diversity, that’s what I love about the brand is I’m performance shortboards and alternative shapes. I’ve got a diverse repertoire to pull from. I love doing boards for guys who will be ripping the bag out of it, but I also love the diverse designs and going off on the weird tangents.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TO SURF?

Well, that’s my deal is surfing. I’m not a kick boxer or a Jiu Jitsu guy, and I don’t even go to the gym because surfing is my thing. I’m surfing like four times a week. I’m not the early guy though. My perfect day is wake up early get to work and power until 10, go surf, grab lunch and comeback and finish up.

HAVE YOU EVER SHAPED A BOARD WITHOUT FINS?

Yeah my U.S.O. I’ve been doing those since the first Drive Thru movie. Donovan told me he wanted a board without fins to take for the trip and I told him I had an idea for one. So I made him one. I’m actually working on a few right now. It’s funny, where now there’s a lot of interest in that. When I started doing them people we’re not into them at all. Now, I think people realize they offer a really intimate relationship with a wave. They give you amazing sensations. That’s what it’s about and that’s why the Parko’s and Rasta’s and those guys want to do it. And pulling something simple on those gives them as much gratification as doing some crazy helicopter Kerrupt flip.

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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