Based out of Brooklyn, NY, Union Surfboards finds pride in the quality of their boards, offering both custom shapes and standard sizes. The Surf Channel had a chance to pick the brains of Chris Williams and Jeff Schroeder, founders of the board company that is making an impact on the New York surf scene.
We were curious ourselves as to what makes the duo tick, so we asked them a few simple questions about their business philosophy, building process, and personal experiences that help guide their growing company.
What separates Union Surfboards from other shapers?
We pride ourselves in establishing a relationship with each of our customers. It’s not the most economical way to make surfboards, but doing one-off customs where we collaborate on the design of each board so that it’s perfectly suited for that surfer, that’s really what separates us.
How does Union Surfboards create a stronger surfing community in New York?
Aside from educating and establishing relationships with surfers in our community, it really comes down to getting the right boards under the feet of our customers. Better suited boards make a better surfer.
Can you describe the surf scene in New York?
The NY surf community is rad, scrappy, and, above all, a dedicated bunch of surfers. If you want any evidence of this, try putting on a 5 mill suit and paddling out in 34 degree water with fickle surf conditions.
Can you tell us about your travel experiences and how that influences board design?
As with most dedicated surfers, the majority of our disposable income is spent on surf trips. Between Chris and I, we’ve been fortunate enough to surf a lot of different types of waves all over the world. So for instance, someone came to us the other day and said they needed a step up to surf a big incoming swell in Nicaragua. Chris and I have both surfed there so we knew the exact board he needed for this particular trip.
What board has been your best work so far? Describe it.
Our best selling short board, ‘The Dean’, is perfectly suited for east coast conditions and has worked well at our favorite local spots. Well over a year of prototyping has gone into fine-tuning the design, and it’s really evolved into a special stick. Ridden 2-6 inches shorter than your standard shortboard, it has the perfect balance of outline and volume distribution that really enhances performance in smaller, weaker surf.
How much technology is utilized when creating Union Surfboards?
Sometimes we don’t need much technology at all. In the case of shaping a custom board by hand, which we still do from time to time, all you need is a set of tools, your eyes, and your hands. But for a lot of our work we machine cut and hand finish boards. In this case, technology plays a vital role is the creation of our boards. CAD software, the CNC Machine, Illustrator, Photoshop, these pieces of technology are constantly helping us to improve the quality of our boards. We’re able to replicate and tweak designs with scary precision. This is something that just isn’t possible when doing custom hand shape.
So there you have it. Two hardworking artists doing what they can to perfect their designs. If you’re an avid surfer in the New York area, check out their shop.