Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 14th ! We’re always looking for a good reason to celebrate and why not celebrate our very own local, California crafts? Here’s what’s gonna be happening: Tyler will be unveiling a new, super-secret addition to the Tyler Surfboards lineup. We’ll have cool art from local artists such as Jason Baffa and Perry Gillotti. We may have a couple surprise displays up our sleeve. Last but not least, Mike Keller of California Rancher will be cooking up a traditional Santa Maria BBQ including tri-tip sandwiches with all the trimmings.
We will have a special, limited-edition t-shirt to commemorate hopefully the first of many California Craftsmen celebrations. Tickets are $20 for both lunch and a t-shirt. You can come and just check everything out without a ticket, but you’ll regret it the second you smell the BBQ and see the shirt! Quantities are limited so purchase your tickets ahead of time to reserve your goods. We can’t serve beers, but we might have ice chests available for anything you might bring. Wink wink.
Afterwards we’re walking over to Standard Station to continue the celebration and to taste El Segundo Brewing Company’s finest craft beers. Word has it that ESBC brewery might be showing up to talk about his beers.
Buy your ticket ASAP, take a surf in the morning on the 14th, then cruise over to Tyler’s about 11am.
Last night’s Free and Easy night was a blast. The Tyler and Davenport crews were in full force. Thanks to Ohana O Kekai for putting together such a cool event to support some great causes! In case you missed it here are a couple photos…
Just some dudes
Ally and T Crit.
Kiyo on the other end of the camera with Adam and Edfactor
If you pick up the today’s Sunday edition of Daily Breeze you’ll probably notice that the front page story is about Tyler Surfboards. They also did a nice little video…
Surfboard maker crafts works of art in El Segundo warehouse
By Douglas Morino Staff Writer
Tyler Hatzikian emerged from a small El Segundo warehouse on a recent rain-soaked afternoon and greeted two visitors, reaching out to shake their hands with a smile and a nod.
The strong chemical smell of fiberglass resin hung in the air. Inside, handcrafted long boards, throwbacks to a different era, sat on racks waiting to be glassed. Others lined walls, polished and ready for local customers. Some would be shipped across the world - Australia, France, Italy, Japan.
Here, Hatzikian continues to turn a childhood fascination of surfing and classic cars into a lifelong profession, bucking mainstream trends and securing his place as a South Bay surfing icon along the way.
“I like to keep my hands busy,” said
Tyler Hatzikian is the face behind the Tyler Surfboards brand. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)
Hatzikian, 40, who has been building surfboards for close to three decades. “These boards are built by local surfers and people who have a passion for the craft.”
Today, Tyler Surfboards consists of just three full-time employees who produce about five long boards a week. Corporate headquarters is a 3,000-square-foot warehouse on Eucalyptus Drive in El Segundo, the close-knit bedroom community where Hatzikian was born and raised.
Hatzikian has experimented with a larger staff, at one time employing as many as 12 people, turning out 20 boards a week. When he was 26, Tyler Surfboards was producing more than 350 boards a year. But Hatzikian has decided to keep his operation small so he can closely monitor each order from foam blank to polished board.
“We’re lean and mean,” he said. “We’re a smaller operation so we can focus on quality and keep the brand tight.”
Hatzikian shaped and sold his first surfboard when he was 12 years old. Today, his boards are shipped across the world, fetching as much as $2,000. About 50 percent of orders come from Japan.
He describes the design of his boards as “advanced traditional.” They are based on the style of long boards that were popular during surfing’s
Tyler Hatzikian creates colorful works of art in his small El Segundo warehouse. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)
golden era, when the sport’s popularity began to swell in the mid-1960s. Hatzikian infuses his surfboard design with his love of refurbishing classic cars and hot rodding.
“When I was 16 I got into classic cars and started studying classic car design,” Hatzikian said. “Once I started studying the history and design I started thinking, `Wait, I surf, yet I don’t know much about the history of surfing or surfboard design.’ It was a perfect fit.”
Along with his board making, Hatzikian is renowned for his ability in the water. His status as a surfer has been propelled thanks to YouTube videos, surf film appearances and magazine photo spreads. Last summer he was profiled in The Surfer’s Journal, considered to be the sport’s most prestigious publication.
And while Hatzikian’s celebrity grows, so does his Tyler Surfboards brand. He continues to hand-shape traditional, single-fin long boards, despite countering industry trends and the ever-increasing popularity of computer-design, factory-stamped short boards.
“With my own surfing and my board-building skills, I just tried to advance it beyond where that long board design ended in the mid-‘60s,” he said. “That has been my focus for more than 20 years.”
Hatzikian’s father shaped his first new surfboard, a six-foot single fin, when he was 10. Watching his father ignited Hatzikian’s lifelong love affair with surfboard shaping. He began experimenting with board design in middle school by stripping
Tyler Hatzikian, who hand crafts long boards from a small warehouse in El Segundo, has seen his brand grow substantially since he first started 20 years ago. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)
off the fiberglass shell of old boards and reshaping the foam interior.
“When my father got too busy, I started making them myself,” Hatzikian said. “I never used to ditch school to go surfing, but I would pretend to be sick to finish up surfboard work. That’s how sickening it was.”
He sold the second board he made to an older high school friend for $80. He was 16 when he got his first business license.
“I kind of had my own identity and I knew what I wanted to do at a young age,” he said.
Hatzikian’s craftsmanship and finely tuned boards has sealed his brand’s reputation, earning him legions of fans along with way. Among them is Adam Davenport, who walked into Hatzikian’s El Segundo warehouse two years ago and asked for a job. A Manhattan Beach native, Davenport, 29, gave up opportunities to study law and coach football to craft surfboards alongside Hatzikian.
“It’s a big thing, to look at a blank and see a surfboard,” Davenport said. “I get to be a part of something very special here. There’s not many shops that build the type of boards that we build, and build them successfully.”
Hatzikian’s boards are reflective of the South Bay’s surfing heritage and offer a reminder of the region’s role as the cradle of the modern surfboard industry, Davenport said.
“The South Bay is the hotbed of surfing,” Davenport said. “A lot of people look down south and up north as being big surf centers. But really not so much. If you look back in the '60s, you had surfer’s row on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa. That left in the '70s. Boards became lighter and shorter. Those old-school businesses weren’t able to keep up with that type of stuff. Tyler bridged that gap.”
While he has worked to develop his own shaping style through the years, Hatzikian has maintained close relationships with the South Bay’s surfing pioneers.
“He has a certain idea of his boards, and what they should be,” said legendary surfboard shaper Hap Jacobs. The two first met when Hatzikian was sanding short boards in Hermosa Beach. They became friends, often surfing together at San Onofre and Manhattan Beach.
“He’s such a good surfer, he’s from the old school and that’s what he sticks with,” Jacobs said. “Being a good surfer, he can sell a lot of boards. When you watch him surf, you can believe in what he makes.”
Today, Hatzikian routinely logs six-day workweeks, often spending up to 12 hours each day in the shaping room. Married with a young daughter, Hatzikian starts each day like he has since he was kid, rising with the morning sun to check the surf, usually at El Porto, where he can often be found in the lineup.
On that recent afternoon, Hatzikian glided a power planer across a white foam blank. Foam dust rose into the air. After, Hatzikian spoke about his surfboards, industry demands and the future.
“My name is on each board. It’s a heap of pressure,” Hatzikian said. “But I’ve learned that I can chart my own course in surfboard design without any outside influence. It’s a direction I can carve out myself.”
Tyler Surfboards The Surfer’s Journal Profile Signing and OPEN HOUSE -The When: Next Friday May 27th, 6-8pm -The Where: @ the retail shop- 201 W Grand Ave, El Segundo, Calif. -The Why: Tyler is honored to be the featured profile in the latest issue of the highly respected surfing publication, The Surfer’s Journal. We would like to invite you to join us in celebrating this accomplishment and to say thank you for all your support. We’re keeping it very casual with wine, beer, and simple appetizers, so come on by to share a cheers with Tyler.
-The How to get your signed copy: Tyler would love to share this milestone with you and would be happy to sign your copy of the issue. We will have copies for sale here at the shop at the newsstand price and Tyler will sign a personalized autograph to your liking. If you are a subscriber and already have your copy, please bring it to the Open House and Tyler would be happy to sign it.
-RSVP: We would like to get an idea of how many of you will be able to join us! Especially if you would like us to have a copy of the Journal waiting for you, we would like to make sure we have enough. You can respond to this post or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (310-322-6861) if you would like to reserve any copies. Or just give us a shout if you plan on stopping by!
Cheers and look forward to seeing you! The Tyler Surfboards Family
Saturday I ventured down behind the Orange Curtain to check out the U.S. Open. I would describe the U.S. Open as a three ring circus but that doesn’t nearly describe the how busy this event really is. More like a ten ring circus but the clown cars are lifted pick-ups plastered with huge decals on the rear windows. In the midst of the chaos and the hype was the Pacifico Nosriding Invitational. The event boasted a lineup that included the who’s who of noseriding. I gotta say Tyler Warren was working it! Here are a few photos from Saturday’s semi-finals.
Joel Tudor making it look oh so easy.
Tyler Warren liesurely shoots the pier.
Tyler again with five up and streaking.
Uh, Mr. Hatzikian, this is a noseriding contest! Tyler taking his 10'7" noserider above and beyond.
Alex Knost getting critical.
Alex Knost making the best of the inside section.
David Nuuhiwa bringing some original classic style and showing the kids how it’s done.