SUPERbrand is a relatively young board company that makes sleds for the kids. They’re fun, go amazingly well and dominate the market in aesthetics (which ain’t surprising since Tony Larson does the graphics – Google him.) The Australia HQ bakes under the Gold Coast sun, just behind Kirra in the same hood as DHD and others. And the man at the helm of that HQ is a man you’ll only ever know mononymously as ‘Sparrow’ (kinda like Prince, or Cher). Interested to learn a little about the secret life of a shaper, Stab lit up Sparrow’s phone for some considered answers.
All photos by Nate Lawrence.
Stab: What, exactly, is your role?
Sparrow: Basically I run the place here (laughs). General manager of SUPERbrand Australia, I guess. I started in 2008. I was approached in March when they were starting the company and I think, probably a month after that, I started full-time.
How many new boards come through your hands in a week? Well right now, we’re getting more orders in a week than I can make. Hence the new factory we’re starting to build this week. With the size of the new place, we’ll be able to manufacture up to 80 boards a week. At the moment, it’s 30, or 40 max. There’ll also be a showroom for clothes with timber floors and a nice fit-out and coffee machine in there – it’ll kinda be a cool place just to hang out.
What’s your turnaround time like? We’re a wholesaler so we don’t really sell to the public – we sell to stores (and keep retail alive!) ’cause we like the shops to get the benefit of a sale. So, an order comes in, it’s processed through the system, I design it up – if it’s a custom order I call the person to go over it and get it right. If it’s a stock order I send it to the cutters to get cut. Then after a coupla days the cut comes back, I’ll shape it, put it in for glassing (which takes a coupla days to filter through), then it gets FCS and sanding off, which are a day or two respectively. Then it’s time to ship ‘em out, basically.
What kinda models are killing? The Toy has been our best-seller. For a long time, 70 percent of our orders were for The Toy. But now we’ve got the new team rider FF series, which are the fish kinda boards. That’s pretty much all Dion (Agius) has been riding. He rides a mixture of The Vapour and The Toy, two of our best sellers. Clay (Marzo) rides a board similar to The Vapour but with a bit more rocker in it. Everyone’s going shorter and wider. The other new one is called The Answer and it’s what I’m calling an all-round shortboard, which is an inch or two shorter but a bit wider. It’s just more volume, which everyone wants, it’s easier to surf, it’s more for guys to go and have fun, y’know?
What’s your biggest point of difference? The graphics we do are our key thing. With the majority of the boards, it’s gone from no-one wanting the graphics to, I’d say now, 90 percent having graphics on them. It makes it more clean, more professional, plus it strengthens them up a little bit. And it looks more appealing on the rack – the shops have been saying a lot that when there’s 100 white boards with 10 colourful SUPERbrands at the back, people go check them out. And generally with store purchases, the first board they pick up is usually the one they’ll buy.
Anything new you’re working with? Yeah, it’s been around for a while but we’ve just started doing XTR. I’ve just had some made for myself. It’s like an Epoxy but the foam’s been extruded, so it’s really rock hard and light. You basically glass it epoxy but you have to put little holes in it ’cause the foam’s that dense that it doesn’t take on water. They feel pretty good. Dion’s been riding them and he said they’re good, so we’ve just made it available on all our boards.
So basically, what are you guys all about? Just something that’s not so serious – we don’t have team riders out there trying to win world titles, we have team riders who like having fun and doing big airs. It’s for people that just love surfing and wanna be part of something that’s fun.
Check out the SUPERbrand site here.