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(Tuesday) 9.27.11

Surf Labor Profile – Foam E-Z

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO TOUR OF THE SHOP

We caught up with Grant and Brad in their unassuming building in Westminster to see what they were up to and boy were we impressed. We’ve known the Foam E-Z guys for years and have always enjoyed hanging out at the shop but we didn’t have the full history of the shop and had no clue all the cool stuff they had cranking.

After 30+ years in the surf industry Brad has some great stories. He got his start at age 14 over at Harbour Surfboards in the shaping bay. They didn’t give him a planer or a sander – he got a broom – and boy could he sweep! Hey groms here’s a little career advice from Brad. When you start out its all about doing every job you are asked to. If they hand you a broom then sweep, if they tell you to move boxes lift with your legs not your back, and if they tell you to go get lunch always make sure you get lunch money from the boss.

Many years after he was handed a broom Brad and a business partner, Steve Adler (RIP), decided to open up a supply warehouse for everything the professional shaper would need. At the time Clark Foam was the only foam supplier and the only place OC shapers could get product was in San Clemente. Not a terrible drive if you were going to surf south county but if you just needed one thing it was quite the trip. Brad’s little business flourished from 1993 to December 5, 2005. Some of you may recognize the date others the name “Black Monday.” 12/5/05 was the day Clark Foam sent out a fax saying effective immediately they were no longer going to make blanks. Grant remembers getting the fax, calling Brad and saying – I can’t really read it but you better get in here. From 11am to 7pm Brad and Grant were on the phone talking to every shaper and opportunist that called. With 8 hours straight of phone time the two called it a day. There were still 50 unchecked messages and the phone was ringing…

“My business literally changed overnight.” Brad explained. Brad used to sell almost exclusively to professional shapers. Today he sells most of his goods to the home hobbyist, the garage guru, the do it yourself shaper. “We were lucky to survive.” He explained. How? Brad attributes it to one customer who offered Brad a trade back in 1996. “I’ll make you this thing called a website if you give me that blank.” Brad didn’t know much about the web but made the trade anyway. You have to remember the internet was still dial up and the term dot com was just being introduced. So to be there first on the web has served him well (google surf blanks he’s #1 in organic search – wow!)

You may be thinking that Foam E-Z is just a surf supply warehouse. THEY’RE NOT! Yeah, they have everything you need, but what sets them apart from every other supply house is “relationships.” Relationships with their customers, professional surfboard shapers, professional surfers, and professional surf vendors. What does all that mean? I think the best way to explain is to demonstrate, so here goes.

Brett Simpson aka “Simpo” is a professional surfer in Southern California. He gets some of his boards shaped by Tim Stamps. Tim buys supplies from Foam E-Z…see where we’re going. Because Foam E-Z and Stamps have been working together so long they are able to have real discussions about the materials needed to get Simpo the board he wants. Now Brad and Grant can tell a home shaper what materials a local pro surfer is using in local waves. What a killer nugget of info!

Another great example is Foam E-Z’s relationship with Futures Fins. Foam E-Z and Futures have been working together for years. Grant has even become a pseudo spokesman for the fin maker. But because they have a strong relationship with the fin maker they have a deeper knowledge of what works, why it works, and how it works. So when you come in you don’t have to do the work to learn everything about fins. You tell the pros at Foam E-Z what you want to be able to do with the board and they set you up with the right fins and fin box.

In summary, they are a shapers dream. Knowledgeable, courteous, and Grant keeps screaming “good looking” but I’m not buying what he’s sellin’.

Check them out at www.foamez.com or stop by the shop at 6455 Industry Way, Westminster, CA

  • BCS

    I see a spot for a Solspot sticker on that doorway


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