Another milestone was reached in Fiji when local surf industry personality & entrepreneur Ian Muller announced he had set up an enterprise to shape, finish & retail surfboards from his base just outside of Nadi town.
Ian leads a hectic life these days with a young family, a growing business & always lots of new things on the go. He lives on the beach 800m south of Sonaisali Island, and seventeen kilometres by road from his Fiji Surf shop in Nadi town (located at 2nd floor, corner of Main St & Hospital Rd).
His location is no accident. It puts him very close to the little marina at Sonaisali where his growing fleet of surf charter boats are based, and taking a straight line from Nadi town to Cloudbreak it puts him that much closer to the famous break.
We finally got him to sit down at his computer for a few minutes to bang out some answers to our 8 emailed questions.
- How long have you been planning the manufacturer of Fijian made surfboards, and what was it that finally made the decision for you to start?
I have always wanted to make our own Fijian Surfboards but the timing / positioning was wrong and I did not have the contacts or funding until a couple of years back. The planning / prep took a couple of years alone especially since this was all new to me. As time went on I would chip away at the project until things were starting to come together – waves opening (Surfing Decree), contacts, business picking up and the demand for surfboards increasing with more surfers coming to Fiji – a natural progression.
- Are you training locals to shape and glass?
Yes training myself and a few of the guys already in our team. We all have picked it up pretty quickly. A few shapers have come down and shown us the basics to get the project off the ground … It is a constant learning curve but the end product is worth all the effort especially when you end up surfing your own board you made – I made 2 boards for myself and they surf unreal. I encourage anybody who wants to learn to hit us up. We want to teach as many locals as possible so they can start to make their own boards or set up their own factories.
We want to help our other Pacific Island neighbors by offering this to them as well. We hope to set up a shop where people can buy all the necessary blanks, resin etc raw materials and equipment for them to make their own boards.
- Who designs your boards?
We have got proven dimensions from existing computer shapes – some we use as is or tweak the shapes to suit our waves. We also got advice off various shapers who have vast experience and understand our waves relatively well
- What are the prices like? Do you make longboards?
Prices are on the catalogues – they vary starting from US $500 upwards depending on lengths, inlays and any other special requests. They are quite reasonably priced esp when you see the price of surfboards abroad nowadays. We can customize boards to most requests such as what type of tail, rails, inlay artwork and fins – fcs or future quad / thruster of 5 fin set ups.
- Do you have any plans to sponsor local surfers and perhaps run an annual event to promote the boards and your surf company?
Yes we have offered to sponsor Aca and Isei and waiting for them to come and give us their dimensions. We want them to come into the shaping bay and see their board being made so they can change it if they want to. We also want to sponsor some talented/dedicated groms as well give boards as prizes for surf comps we will be running next year.
- Where do you sell them from and how can someone look at details online and find out more info? Do you ship overseas
The two brands of boards we are making is Fiji Surf and VSL ( Viti Surf Legend ). We are selling them through the Fiji Surf Shop and soon to be at other outlets around Fiji. You can also order them online through our website: www.fijisurfco.com for which we can send to anywhere in the world.
As per our Fijian Surfboard Co catalogue – the 6 models have the various sizes with descriptions of their shapes and what waves they are best suited for in Fiji. Anyone interested can read through the catalogue and if they have more questions they can contact us directly.
- Have there been any major challenges in setting up this enterprise? How do you see the future of the surfing industry in Fiji?
It has been a pretty big challenge for us because this is a very new project for Fiji and that we don’t have any previous operations to gain knowledge off of.
With not much support and understanding of such an industry from the local perspective – logistically it has been tough. Overseas their is a wealth of support which made life easier along with the Bainimarama Govt who had the vision to push niche markets and sports like surfing – that has made the difference! It took us a couple years to get to where we are today and their is still a great deal of learning and developing to do. We are making mistakes as you do when you pioneer an industry but this is what makes us learn and as a result hopefully develop a better product.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Fijian Surfboard Co is proud to finally bring these original Fijian Surfboards to our shores. These boards are Fijian Made for our own Fijian Waves with authentic Fijian graphics to give our surfboards that point of difference on the global market. It is through our world class waves, and testing the boards on these waves, that we will be able to develop the perfect boards to be ridden on our waves. That is a dream we have wanted to fulfill for a long time. We have the waves but did not have the surfboards accessible to us locally.
We look forward to working with FSA and stakeholders towards the development of Fijian Surfing next year.
Shop phone +679 670-5960
Ian Muller : firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian mobile +679 992-8411