Editor’s note: This episode of CREATORS was made possible by Toyota RAV4 Adventure Grade.
There’s a phrase that’s been getting quite a bit of airplay lately – support your local shaper. No offense to any of the extremely talented shapers out there, but there’s an entire team of expert craftsmen behind nearly every surfboard (save, the one-man shops and backyard specials). A more apt dictum might be: support your local shaper, and laminator, and sander, and polisher, and airbrusher. But that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, now, does it? Point is, shapers get a lot of the glory when it comes to our magic sleds. Shit, most of the time their names are on ’em. Guys in the glass shop, however, don’t. And yet their craft is every bit as artistic and requires equal precision.
Enter Greg Martz, founder of perennial OC glass shop Waterman’s Guild. Since 1983, Greg’s overseen a shop that’s pushed out some of the finest glass work in the industry. It’s the go-to joint for a number of OC-based surfboard labels like Almond, Harbour, and more – namely, brands looking for two things: quality and color.
When we came knocking several weeks ago to catch up with Greg and the crew, we got a quick tour of the operation. One thing was conspicuously absent – not a single board on the racks was done with clear resin. On one hand, it’s indicative of what consumers are asking for. For instance, in the 90s Greg says the lion share of the boards he laminated were in color. On the other, it shows labels know who to come to when they want to ensure their boards turn out functional pieces of art.
Greg isn’t shy about his intention when founding Waterman’s Guild back in ’83. He wanted to start the world’s best glass shop. “Why do anything if you don’t want to work hard and become the best at it?” he says. Thirty-five years later, he says he’s come pretty damn close to achieving that dream and is now stepping away from the day-to-day as his son Ryan takes the helm. And while Ryan is quick to point out he has big shoes to fill, his father is confident Da Guild is in good hands.
At the end of the day, both Ryan and Greg point out that the success of Waterman’s Guild boils down to the craftsmanship of each and every member of the team – from the laminator to the sander to the fin box router, everyone’s got to click.
Greg’s mantra, and his lesson to his son is telling of a man devoted to craft. “Do what you want,” he says, “and do it well.”