Christian Haro - Olatu Factory

Christian Haro works in Olatu, one of the biggest surfboard builder companies in Europe, which builds, designs and distributes to global leading surf brands. He lives in the beautiful Bask Country in Spain, and combines his passion for the surf with his expertise in the surf industry.  

When did you start surfing?

I started surfing when I was kid, about 10 years ago or so.

What was your first board?

My first board was a second hand board that I bought from a local hero: Ibon Imaz (RIP). He was a legend!

What is that you love about surfing and the ocean?

I love snaking and dropping in on everybody’s waves! hahaha just kidding! I love the feeling you get from surfing, hanging out in the water with friends and sharing great moments. I also love that it gives you the chance to enjoy nature in a really special way.

What is your current job position?

I work at The Pukas surfboard factory, known by the name of Olatu. This factory stands tall in the industry hosting the very best of international surfboard builders. It’s placed between Mundaka and Hossegor in the nearby area of San Sebastian and Zarautz (Spain’s Basque Country).

My everyday work consists on linking our sales force (an extensive sales team across Europe) with the production at the factory.  I provide support and advice to all the distributors as well as solving the technical queries that clients may have. I’m basically the connection between the factory and everything that happens outside of it.

Customer service is a big part of my job, as it involves a lot of organizing orders, logistics and payments via email and phone, and making sure everything runs smoothly in terms of producing and delivering the surfboards we make.

Do you have any other experience in the surf industry?

I got started in the industry when I was at uni. I was doing my Chemistry degree when the Pukas Family offered my first job in their team. I worked in the Pukas surfshop on weekends and summer throughout my 5-years degree. I will be forever grateful to the opportunity the Pukas family gave me, as this allowed me to work in something I was passionate about while I was still finishing my studies. Once I finished my degree, I got a job as chemist and export manager and worked there for the following 5 years, working full time and surfing in my spare time. It was then when the Pukas family offered me a job as customer support manager at Olatu and I didn’t think twice. It is such a pleasure to work in something you love so much. Thank you Marian, Adur, and Azpiroz-Letamendia family!

How do you think the surfing and shaping industry have evolved since Olatu shaped its first board in the 70s?

The surf industry is growing a lot; the scenario has drastically changed since the pioneers of our surfing started shaping boards at their garages. Nowadays things are totally different, the surfing population is quite big and is growing everyday here in Europe. The demand is constantly increasing; the proof is how packed the local beaches are during summer! All those surfers need the equipment and we are here to supply it for them!

How many boards do you guys produce per day?

So many! I couldn’t tell you an exact quantity but we are quite busy to keep up with the demand!

With China becoming a world leader in surfboard exports, has Olatu noticed a decrease on their demand?

It is really happening. China is exporting a lot, but PU high quality boards are totally different than those exported boards from China. We deliver a customized service to all our customers; we provide advice, and a great post sale service. The experience is miles away from the one you receive (if any) when purchasing from these Chinese companies.  

We have a big sales force through Europe, the quality of the materials we use is exceptional, top shapers make our boards, and we deliver boards to global renowned brands. I think that Chinese companies still have a long way to position themselves at the same level than the European factories. Go MADE IN EUROPE!!

How have new technologies like shaping software impacted the production of the factory?

The first difference is that the shapers right now are also designers...They have to design their boards on their laptops and then hand-finish the boards. With the available tech we have at the moment, we save tones of time and effort in the design and production process. The designs are also more precise and we get to save some good models on our computers.

The rest of the process (lamination, hot coating and sanding) is hand finished. So the improvements on technology have definitely made a change for us: we can get more and better shapes in less time. Lamination also is improved due to UV boxes and the curing is better and faster. But as I said, most of the process is still hand finished.

 Where can we find you online?



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Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on May 22, 2016
Categories: Interviews