Surfboard shaper is a success story

GOING STRONG: Madness Surfboards owner and shaper Chris Henry (right) and his son Byron have adapted to challenging market conditions.
GOING STRONG: Madness Surfboards owner and shaper Chris Henry (right) and his son Byron have adapted to challenging market conditions. Trevor Veale

SURFBOARD shaper Chris Henri can recall a time when the demand for his profession was at its all time high.

Thirty years on, he is one of a handful of shapers remaining on the Coffs Coast competing in a flooded market of imported computer-aided design boards from overseas.

But having cornered the niche market of producing custom hand-shaped boards, Chris is a rare success story within an industry that's fallen to the effects of a global economy and the rise of the Australian dollar.

"Because of computer cutting there is a mass of people on the market and that's hurt a lot of the established makers," he said.

"I used to make boards in Sydney where we had a 75% wholesale market - that's now gone," he said.

Eight years ago, Chris relocated to Woolgoolga and set up Madness Surfboards that specialises in quality boards and workmanship.

"Specialising in custom boards has turned out to be the best decision," he said.

"Because so many boards are machine cut, I think you'll always have that demand for the custom hand made board that can be tailored for the surfer."

In a market dominated by imports, DMC surfboards owner and shaper Danny Cougle has faced similar challenges over the years.

He runs his business from home and is sceptical about the future for young people looking to make a career in the craft.

"You use the best materials because you want a board to last - so a board you're selling for $250 costs you $300 to make.

"Unless you can produce with low overheads, it's a challenge for young people to get that start."

He said the industry should introduce regulations to label boards with their country of origin to ensure people know what they are buying.

"Unfortunately so many little businesses are suffering so labelling is an issue that needs to be addressed," he said.

Both experienced shapers said what keeps workshops going is the connection to surfing, to surfing culture and above all - loyal customers.

"I have seen a swing back to local or Aussie made boards," Danny said.

"There is still a demand for custom boards and Australian boards."

Topics:  better business surfboards surfing woolgoolga

Brave boy uncovers man's cow sex, child sexual abuse

A beast in the main arena at the 2012 Ekka.

Police praise boy for testimony of man's abuse and sex with a cow

DPI puts Dolphin Marine Magic 'all but out of business'

A battle over seal enclosures at Dolphin Marine Magic threatens the facility's ability to stay open, Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser warns.

DPI crackdown a threat to Dolphin Marine Magic, warns MP

Medics fight for rights

SPREADING THE WORD: Bellingen paramedic Justin Williams writes "Mike Baird has promised to protect us by January 31”.

Paramedics face more risks yet are least protected

Local Partners

Family's new arrival in face of tragedy

MEL Small had already gone into labour when she learned of the tragic fate of her sister Jodie Spears.

Blooming Woolgoolga

Handmade flowers have brought colour to mental health in Woolgoolga.

HANDMADE flowers have brought colour to mental health in Woolgoolga.

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Declan Kelly and the Rising Sun to shine bright at festival

Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun is one of the headlining acts at this year's festival.

Main stage set to pump with radiant reggae and dub vibes

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Pictures of Taylor Swift allegedly being groped are sealed

They could "complicate jury selection".

Bruce Springsteen finds therapy useful

Singer Bruce Springsteen

Singer encourages others to seek help

Kerry Washington wants one more child

Kerry Washington recently gave birth to her second child

Kerry has only just become a new mum again

TRAVEL: Musicals light up Sydney

David Campbell performs in Dream Lover.

We take a trip through one of Sydney's finer scenes

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge