Behind the Brand: "We're a heritage brand that's still experimenting with modern design," says Steve Walden. "Almost 45 years after I started Walden Surfboards, we're bigger and stronger than ever—not just because we're a great heritage brand, and not just because of something innovative we did 40 years ago, but because we've been innovating all along." Walden has a point. On his self-scripted resume, he lists a litany of design innovations, including the first modern performance longboard. "After a long day of surfing on a heavy, traditional longboard surrounded by shortboarders," he says, "I went home with the idea of making a longboard that rode like a shortboard. I shaped the first modern performance longboard under my house at Rocky Point. It went unnamed until 1981 when it was christened the "Magic Model" because so many people rode it and said it simply was magic. Since the early days, it has been our all-time, best selling board. It still is today."
About his Most Popular Models: "The Magic Model is designed to work in any type of wave."
Taking the Pulse: "At the end of the day, fit is the most important quality to have in your surfboard. The board must fit the surfer and the conditions they're surfing. It's that simple."Shop Talk
What's the best way to identify the gap between a customer's wants and true needs? "I always start with an interview. Few customers come in actually knowing what they need. They may know what they want, but usually what they want and need are two very different things. I try to find out what the customer is trying to achieve and what they like or don't like with their present equipment. Too often, customers come in with suggestions and opinions and ideas from friends that, in many cases, are inaccurate. I try to sort through all the preconceived ideas and match the customer to the proper board."
What project are you and your customers having the most fun with? myself with a concave deck to help alleviate some lower back issues and take some pressure off my ribs. A concave deck also lowers your center of gravity for a more stable and positive ride. It turns out, a lot of my customers have the same anatomical problems and love the Mpod, because it allows you to ‘nest' in the board rather than lay on top of it. Bigger guys love it, our women riders like it too, for obvious reasons."
What's the most exciting thing about surfboard technology right now? "The choices in technologies and materials. I'm working with everything from hollow-fiber construction to EPS epoxy and eco-friendly materials. Boards are lighter and stronger than ever before, and that allows a lot of experimentation, which I love. I have never understood the school of thought that thinks change is bad. I prefer to test the boundaries of materials, shapes and manufacturing capabilities."