“Good enough is never good enough.” – Alfred Bertram Guthrie
Jeff opened Wave Zone in 1990 and today looks out on the production floor at the rewarded by the sight of the massive company in front of him. A lot of sweat equity and natural talent, and business sense was invested over the years to build a company that continues to thrive.
Early on he realized he can fix, build, design and analyze just about anything. This talent was first noted at the age of 5 when his parents found him at the kitchen table having just re-assembled a clock that hadn’t worked in years… and now was keeping time perfectly. Jeff credits his ability to envision and understand how things work, and to design and create, to his Dyslexia. He sees his Dyslexia as a tool that let’s him see things differently than others.
Today Jeff enjoys training and growing talented board builders, cnc operators, and precision craftsmen. Wave Zone Skim & Surf Company has been his life’s work and each new and talented employee is building block to the legacy he will some day pass to the next gen of the surf industry
Shinham first approached a bank for a loan to start his business. He was denied because he was too young. Instead, he opened the doors of Wave Zone, using his life savings at the age of 24. Best. Investment. Ever.
The history of Wave Zone
After 6 years in sporting goods management and windsurfing/sailing instruction Jeff Shinham opened Wave Zone Custom Surf Shop in Manatee County, Florida. This shop specialized in custom surf boards, custom skimboards, skate boards and wind surfers among the hard goods product lines. With a full service surf shop by day and a board builder workshop at night, countless hours were spent building the powerful business that exists today. Jeff was found every night shaping and building custom surf boards and skimboards in a workshop in his back yard. Over the years, hundreds of Wave Zone custom surf boards and several thousand skimboards have been individually handcrafted.
Originally, each skimboard was shaped and glassed in the same manner as a surf board. In the late 1990’s Clark Foam discontinued the production of the foam used in shaping our skimboard cores. Much like the surf board blank shortage of 2005/2006 we found ourselves pushed toward new product design, while using epoxy products as a temporary fix.
Nearly a full year was spent designing and building our first pvc foam core and fiberglass skimboard product. The first prototype board was a bust. After walking away for a month, Jeff re-approached his design with determination and prototype 2 was a winner.
Extensive research, design and test riding went into the first board and continues to go into every Wave Zone Skimboard that is engineered. Every aspect is measured from the science of the shape to the formulation of the glassing with the goal of producing boards that are faster, lighter and stronger.
Our first boards were initially sold only through the Wave Zone Surf Shop, but within a year Jeff was receiving requests to make boards for other surf shops in Florida. The first summer of wholesaling brought 30 surf shops on board and carrying the Wave Zone brand… gone were the days of back yard production.
The coming years brought 5 moves to newer, larger facilities to accommodate the massive growth of Wave Zone Skimboards. The booming business made it impossible to continue operating the Surf Shop and Jeff moved exclusively to manufacturing and wholesaling of the Wave Zone brand. Today Wave Zone Skimboards can be found in hundreds of surf shops around the United States and the world.
The innovation has continued. In 2012 we were forced to say good bye to the Xtrak Surf Traction brand as Hyperform moved on to the massively successful Seadek endeavor. Xtrak was the last USA made traction company, this left all production of surf traction in the hands of overseas factories. Wave Zone’s commitment to selling only products made in the USA was challenged. Back to the drawing board for Wave Zone. After 4 months of design, computer programming, adhesive testing, materials review and packaging research, Hammer Traction was launched in 2013. The growth has been amazing and the enthusiasm for a USA made traction brand was a warm welcome.
In 2014 Jeff was awarded honorable mention for the ingenuity of his shaping at the board shape off in Orlando, FL.
Above and below. Jeff shaping in a trade show board builders demo bay.