Carrozza Surfboards Catches A New Wave With 'Ding Dudes' Repair Service
From the shores of Maui to the California coast, Carrozza Surfboards entered the shaping industry nearly 15 years ago with self-taught builder Chris Carrozza as its fearless fin. Though the one-man company designed and carved under the name Grass Roots Surfboards on the island, it adopted the last name of its founder in April 2012—the year it emerged in Huntington Beach. Local surfer Bob "Sugar Bear" Davis joined forces with Chris during this phase, and just recently the small company opened its very own surfboard ding repair service. Enter Ding Dudes. Enter the fastest, most affordable, most professional option in town. They're even offering a sweet deal for Main & PCH readers.
A new life with his new wife brought Chris to the mainland, and although his surroundings changed, his passion for shaping remained unaltered. "I wanted surfboards that were what I wanted, not what everyone wanted to sell me," he tells us of his "love affair" with shaping, which began in 2001. Several shaping legends took Chris under their wing on the island, including Tom Parrish, Neal Norris, Chris Vandervoort, and Wade Tokoro, one of his heroes. John "JC" Carper's "Shaping 101" video also proved to be a great resource. "I watched that like a million times," says Chris.
Once on the mainland, Chris joined the team at Sandy's, where he met now business partner Bob in March 2011. Both avid and lifelong surfers, the duo realized their combined skill sets filled in any and all gaps. With shaping covered by Chris, Bob's website building and marketing skills elevated the brand to a new level. A true waterman, Bob lived in Naples during high school and used a friend's Huntington Beach address during those years so he could attend Huntington Beach High School and join the surf team. It was a match made in the water, and they aptly named it Carrozza Surfboards.
"We just sat down with a pen and paper," recalls Bob. "We didn't invest $1." Chiming in on their first steps, Chris says, "It was all sweat equity, for sure." Bob's garage quickly became their shaping bay and showroom, and they eventually struck a deal with Mystery Glassing to bring the Huntington Beach-based surfboard glassing company enough business to score a shaping bay. Though righteously ambitious, Chris and Bob knew that the key to keeping Carrozza afloat was their ethical business philosophy and their approach: systematic and organic.
Now approaching their three-year anniversary in April, the pair has managed to slowly and steadily grow their business with minimal overhead and within their modest means. They laughed as they recalled loading up and meeting potential buyers as far as San Diego in the early days, as well as their "brutal" onsite ding repair stint during the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing.
"We did 100 boards our first year, and that was just selling them out of our garage or car," says Bob, who built the company's website and handles social media and marketing. "We definitely had to give up a lot of surf sessions," he adds, but both gents acknowledge that their hard work and smart reinvesting has been well worth it. Repeat customers, referrals, and random newbies are ringing daily, largely thanks to Carrozza's desire and ability to connect with customers and deliver on their promises.
With more than 40 years of surfing experience between the two of them, both dudes are tirelessly passionate about crafting custom boards to help surfers improve their sessions. "The general surfing public knows what they want," says Chris. "The good guys are ripping, but how do we get the average guys to rip harder?"
Design happens in AutoCAD, and each template is built from scratch. Once the custom blanks arrive from Gardena-based US Blanks, Chris finishes each board by hand, carving in subtleties, concaves, and other adjustments. Known for their performance shortboards, "Lil Buddy" groveler, and "El Stumpo" mini simmons, Carrozza builds boards of all shapes and sizes for riders of all levels. They can even build exact replicas of beloved boards with an impressive 5 percent variance. Their state of the art software and expert craftsmanship allow them to deliver a higher quantity of boards at a faster rate with consistent results.
"We're designing our boards with the same exact tools that every major label in the world is using," says Chris, adding that their ingenuity lies in "state of the art technology steeped in a good hand-building knowledge background."
As 2014 drew to a close, a space opened up in one of Huntington Beach's many business parks, conveniently located near McFadden and Graham across from Precision Shaping, where Carrozza's boards are cut. Already set with the basic infrastructure of a shaping studio, the space formerly housed another local surfboard maker. Though Bob resisted the leap to owning a space, Chris assured him the location was perfect and that he knew exactly how to build it out under the Carrozza brand. But that's not all they were planning.
On December 1, they launched Ding Dudes, touting their surfboard ding repair service as the best bang for time, money, and quality. From everyday dings to severed foam, Ding Dudes pledges to repair surfboards faster than the standard four week timeframe at competitive prices and in topnotch condition. Their bandaid-inspired stickers featuring 25 percent off ding repair are definitely sticking, as locals slapped with the deal have been calling in requesting the help of the Ding Dudes.
Humbled by the growth of their two-man brand, Chris and Bob continue to work separate full-time jobs to fuel their dream, but 2015 might be the most rewarding year yet. Eventually they'd like to call the shop their only office, and who knows how long it will be until they outgrow their new workroom. With an "up-and-coming, aggressive" surf team, as described by Chris; sponsorship aspirations; and new friends collaborating on boards daily, Carrozza Surfboards and its grateful Ding Dudes may very well become a household name before their 10-year goal.
"The community's been super good to us, and we definitely want to stoke them back out," says Chris. Stoke on, Ding Dudes.
To add to the stoke, the Dudes are offering Main & PCH readers 25 percent off ding repair through February 28, 2015. Simply show them the below graphic on your smartphone, and you're good to go.