Month Of The Shaper: Bill Johnson

Editor's Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time: Teqoph's Bill Johnson.

Name: Bill Johnson
Years Shaping: 17
Boards Per Week: 25-50
Specialty: surfboards

Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?

My company started just before the Clark shutdown. We went through a lot of hard times dealing with getting quality blanks....There is still a lot of learning going on in the blank department. I definitely can't say that it was a pleasant transition. But, Yes we are better off with more variety and I'm stoked to see that it's not a monopoly any longer here in the US.

Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?

That's a question that I would on the surface love to say yes, because that is what we know so well and is what we're used to... but I can't say that it will always be the dominant; always is too long a period to predict either way. For now and the near future, I see it being the dominant, because it is what feels the best under your feet in most situations.

Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?

The appreciation seems to be very high when we have people come and order boards. The fact that surfboards can be very fine tuned to fit the needs of any given individual, by professionals who actually know how to listen and know what they are doing when it comes to dialing someone into a great fit; hasn't changed and people will always be looking for the perfect board to go with the perfect wave. I imagine the percentage of people getting customs is down, because the amount of people surfing now compared to the last few decades.

Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?

I am not sure about other surfboard companies, but our {{{Stealth}}} Quad is growing in popularity in a big way throughout the world. I think the main factor is that it rides more like a tri-fin than conventional quads, so people can jump back and forth easily from a quad to tri and not have a weird transition. The fact is quads got very popular quick and a lot of board companies got on the bandwagon, whether they understood or cared about how they worked, most just copied the more successful builders and I found that their designs were inferior to the tri-fin. I think that a lot of people tried and got discouraged... but there is a new fire in the quad market now.

What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?

our main sales are done through accounts. We have a pretty good amount of repeat custom clientele too. We have just recently started doing the Boardworks epoxy boards and they are selling well too.

If it hasn’t already, will your surfboard production ever have to go overseas?

Hopefully that will never be the case, that we will ever have to go overseas to have our boards built for the US. We do however have to build our boards for Europe in Portugal, because it's too expensive to build them here and ship them there. We are shaping blanks for Japan and Peru, and having them finish them there for their countries customers, and I love it for the fact that they get to be a part of the production and make money off the building of the boards as well as keep some of the cost down. I think that there is a bit of honor in that.

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?

Worship music is what I mostly listen to, but I like to listen to classical as well.

How much time do you spend on a single board now?

On average about a half hour to 45 minutes.

Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?

Shaping bay.

How important is teamrider feedback to you?

Extremely important! Almost all our models are designed and fine tuned by their comments on how they go in different situations.

What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?

The one for me! Lol. I love getting new boards and trying new stuff.

How often do you get to surf?

I surf up to 3 to 4 times a week...

Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?

No. I think that when there is something viable it will be made known quick.... I have my eyes and ears open though.

DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler
DAY 22: Glenn Pang
DAY 23: Bill Johnson