Curtis Custer - Surfoam Founder

What does Surfoam Central America do?

We are a distributor and authorized wholesaler of high quality surfboard construction and reparation materials. We also distribute and wholesale surfing accessories: leashes, fins, traction. We sell products for US Blanks, Millennium Foam, BGF Aerialite, Silmar, Stay Covered, JPS and more…a bit of everything under the sun.

What do you like most about your job?

I love seeing the stoke on the faces of the kids when they get their new boards and knowing those were the materials I sold to the manufacturer. I also love helping the guys who are going to make their own boards at home. They all leave here totally happy.

Tell me about your first board:

My first board was a South Shore twin fin that my dad helped my buy in 1977. We found it at a garage sale for $25 and he made me work that off. I was so rookie I don’t even know how big it was and it didn’t even matter. That was the same year Star Wars came out.

What was it like growing up in Huntington Beach back then?

It was a unique place, just a little beach town. I would ride my bike straight to Bolsa Chica to PCH and down into Huntington. There were some really core surfers in the 70’s. It was an exciting time.

My dad said if you’re in the house I’m putting you to work, but going to the beach was ok. So the incentive was to spend the whole day at the beach. My mother would drop us off at the beach and pick us up at the pier 6 hours later. We’d look for jellyfish, go fishing, and of course surf. Good times!

Who did you look up to as a grom that inspired you to get into making surfboards?

PT and Ian Cairns. They really had a big role in the Huntington High School surf team. They were involved in coaching us and were very present there at the time.

Also, Simon Anderson. The year he made the thruster he came and gave us a talk about how to surf in contests…what maneuvers you should and shouldn’t do. All three were huge role models to a lot of us.

Chuck Allen, who founded the NSSA was also a big influence, he was just a solid role model. I think he was the Vice President of a bank, but yet he still took time to come down and coach us crazy groms (heavy laughter!).

Who inspires you today?

Of course, Robert August, who also lives here in Tamarindo. He was a big inspiration as a grom and still is today. John Pyzel inspires me, just like Todd Proctor…the way they shape is just phenomenal. PT and Ian still inspire me today. PT is still charging hard at Rip Curl and has that never say die attitude. Pat Fraley, the national sales manager at Quiksilver, inspires me a lot too.

So what’s it like living and basing a surf industry business in Costa Rica?

Wow. It’s a microcosm of chaos and rewarding satisfaction. You can really make a big contribution to the industry and see your hard work pay off here on a regional scale, but it can be very chaotic at times. It’s different. It’s Latin America, so it’s a lot of culture shock for a gringo like me. It’s got a growing and emerging market with plenty of opportunity. I pushed hard to get Pyzel over here and it finally came to fruition. As his business grows here I feel really stoked! Hopefully we’ll get guys like John John over here to inspire everyone too.

How do you see your work directly effecting the local surf community and giving young surfers and shapers more opportunity to make their mark?

We look at it like this. We’ve been able to stabilize the industry and provide more resources to reduce prices to ensure there was something for everybody. Smaller shapers can now target the lower cost market. You could still have all the elite boards, like C.I., Rusty, DHD, and Lost, but for the average Costa Rican or Central American these were out of reach on incomes like $1000/month.

Local shapers like Mark Wooster, Carton from down in Jaco, Che Boards, Javier Orna from Banzaii Boards, and Walter Plantera. Carton is making great boards at very affordable prices. We supply all ends of the industry, but best of all, it’s the guy in the water that wins in the end.

Top 3 shapers today?

Darren Handley, Matt Biolos, and John Pyzel. They all have a high level of experience and innovation, plus the best test pilots to propogate their work globally.

What bands would be on the soundtrack of your life?

The Ramones, Cold Play, Sex Pistols, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Social Distortion, The Pixies, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Where can we find you online?



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Posted by: Dan Stokes Roman, on October 29, 2016
Categories: Interviews