Behind the Brand: While it probably won't happen anytime soon, Bruce Jones' iconic surf shop on the Pacific Coast Highway in Sunset Beach deserves historical site status. It's been in operation as a surf hub since 1965, when it opened as the Ole Surfboards center. At the time, Bruce was a shaper for Ole, but he took the shop over in 1973 when he finally decided to launch his own label. With a board building background that makes him the envy of legends, he was certainly prepared. Jones got into the mix at the Clark Foam factory in 1962, gluing stringers and delivering blanks. That role soon evolved into cutting down stringers, or pre-shaping, at the world famous Hobie factory, where he absorbed the craft from guys like Phil Edwards, Dale Velzy, Terry Martin, Ralph Parker, and countless others. His technical skills were soon so sought after he began writing his own ticket, shaping for Gordie, Brewer, Russell, Vardeman (where he did all the Jackie Baxter models, which have become rare collectors items), and Ole. Today Bruce still enjoys his shaper-owned, shaper-managed shop, where he meets and greets customers every day, providing them tools for a healthier living. His store is home to no less that 200 boards at a time.
About his Most Popular Models: Bruce is a champion of the middle-class. Shaping disposable blades for high-priced pros is not his deal. Instead, he's focused on high-quality boards that actually work for his customers, most of whom prefer longboards, fishes, eggs, and various hybrids. He shapes each and every one of them, by hand, and his coloring, glassing, and finishing team has been with him for 20 years, assuring high quality. "I love doing them all, but high-performance longboards made for average California surf are my best-selling models."
Taking the Pulse: "For a long time, boards were either short or long, now the middle has filled in. That versatility in design is what's important going forward. Each shaper will become more in tune with his customers' needs."Shop Talk
What's the best way for customers to insure they'll be getting the board they want? "The shaper needs to be in the store, talking to the customer extensively before the board is made and even after delivery for feedback. That's also why we have a rack filled with waxed-up boards in our store. We let the customer demo different designs so he or she can narrow down the variables in advance."
What's the most important thing on their mind? "Maneuverability—turning. Which is understandable, because if you can't turn why even surf?"
Where has handcrafted technology recently improved? "I think there's been a lot of improvement in the handmade EPS/Epoxy construction, which is coming out very strong and very light now. We can put a longboard-type of glass job on a shortboard and it still comes out lightweight, and much more durable. We take pride in the fact that our boards are very well constructed. We're not making throw-aways."