Our first surfing spotlight features Nick Halleran of Make And Ride Surf Exchange in Virginia Beach, Va. Make And Ride offers instructor led surfboard shaping sessions, allowing you to bring your surfboard visions to life.
Nick's passion for riding the proper equipment for your local waves helps to create boards with a unique feel. Boards that will help you up your wave count, which is what every 9-5er wants.
MAR has standard store hours, but Nick is conscious of the working man/woman and can accommodate lessons to fit your schedule. If shaping a board isn't your thing, he'll work with you to develop and shape a custom surfboard.
MAR prides itself on its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Tim and Ryan have personally shaped 3 boards with MAR and can vouch for the experience. All 3 boards have made their way to the top of their quivers. Enjoy learning more about MAR and be sure to check them out at @marsurfexchange.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Make and Ride:
I grew up in western New York, near Buffalo, so not much (...any) surf to be had. I’d always been drawn to the beach and interested in surfing, so I moved to VB when I was 19 to start exploring that while working other jobs and finishing up school. I’m now 28, married, and working and surfing are my only hobbies :).
The vision for MAR is to help strengthen our local surf community and culture by providing surfers the experience of building their own boards. Every community is made of authentic individual relationships and we’ve found that building boards together (and the inherent vulnerability in that process) is a great tool to work with towards that cause.
We also have a small showroom where we sell stock boards designed specifically for our local waves, make a bunch of custom orders, and do countless ding repairs-- anything we can do to help more people get the most out of the local conditions.
What led to the start of MAR?
After building and repairing my first few boards in 2012-2013, I was hooked and determined to find a place for myself in the surfboard world.
I did the thing that surf movies and culture say you’re “supposed to” do and tried to find a local board builder willing to take me on as an apprentice or employee, but was repeatedly met with closed doors.
That left no other option but to start something myself, but in my search for an employer I realized that it wasn’t just me that was getting “no’s”-- there were no young guys or gals learning the art of board building and that meant that if someone didn’t start teaching them we would have no next generation of true hand-shapers.
It obviously took me a few years to learn myself -- and I’m still learning every day… haha -- before I’d really be in the right position to teach, but I saw an opportunity to do something unique that might have a deeper impact on our community than just building boards and working with people face-to-face suits me personally much better than just being alone in a shaping bay all day.
What keeps you chasing these experiences and your mission?
There’s certainly an internal motivation to find success in such a strange new way, but mostly it’s the people that keep a smile on my face. I always remind myself and my team that we aren’t just making or fixing surfboards, we’re doing the behind the scenes work so that someone can get the wave of their life. Our legacy will be the stories that old men tell about the barrel they got on their favorite board back in the day, whether they’re kind enough to mention us or not, haha.
Seeing the look of pure joy and disbelief on someone’s face when they pick up a beautiful board they’ve built themselves and getting that “Dude, it works so good!” text is a magical feeling.
We also hear and see the deeper appreciation of surfing, surfboards, and all board-builders after someone’s been through a DIY Experience with us and that’s a huge motivator too.
It may not be a world-changing concept, but that small shift in an individual is a small victory and I trust that enough small victories can help the world be a little better.
What makes your home such a unique area to do what you do?