2009-06-25 / News

Island architect creates new tool to smooth surfboard prep

By Joan Breakell

Greg Pearson, left, Laurie Keene and Ron DiMauro, creators of the new Wax Buddy tool for surfboards  Greg Pearson, left, Laurie Keene and Ron DiMauro, creators of the new Wax Buddy tool for surfboards Rhode Island has its share of passionate surfers who take to the water whenever the waves are good. But, quite a bit of work must be done before a surfer ever hits the waves.

The wax that provides foot traction on the board’s surface must be in good condition, and that means regularly scraping off the old sandfi lled wax, applying a new coat and combing it for added traction.

It is a chore nobody likes. Fortunately, island architect and surfer Ron DiMauro has come up with a tool for surfers who want to spend more time in the water and less time maintaining their boards – the Wax Buddy.

Previously, the main tool used for the job was a small plastic rectangle with a blade on one edge and a comb on the other. According to DiMauro, the comb works, but the blade often does not do the job and the tool digs into the user’s palm. Surfers have resorted to kitchen spatulas, metal putty knives or razors, and the whole operation can take more than an hour.

DiMauro decided there had to be a better design and set to work. First, the tool needed a handle for strength and leverage. The blade needed to be flexible and sharp enough to scrape off the wax without damaging the board. Add to that a retro design, earth-friendly material and a color that would appeal to both guys and girls, and DiMauro knew he had a winning idea.

He consulted his friend, Greg Pearson, who worked in a local surf shop and had taught him to surf. Pearson loved the idea and, along with fellow surfer Laurie Keene, joined DiMauro to cre- ate the prototype Wax Buddy under the company name Endless Wave. According to DiMauro, the company name was chosen for its suggestion of endless possibilities and endless waves.

The next challenge was producing the Wax Buddy at a competitive price using recycled plastic. After approaching dozens of companies with their idea, the team at Endless Wave finally found a company that could do the job. Then, it was time to put the Wax Buddy to the test and find out what surfers thought of their new product.

“We realized that it was the people in the trenches that know what the public wanted and what worked and what didn’t, especially the ding repair guys and girls, and the shapers who did it for a living,” Keene said.

Samples went out to more than 800 surf shops across the country and Pearson and Keene spent the next weeks following up and talking to the people who sell and maintain surfboards. DiMauro took the Wax Buddy on the road, driving across the country with his then 13-year-old daughter, also a surfer, to hear what the folks in surf shops had to say.

Everyone was enthusiastic, but they also had plenty of suggestions for improvements. So it was back to the drawing board to design the new and improved Wax Buddy, a multi-purpose tool. The Wax Buddy II not only has a scraper on the end, but the sides of the blade feature a wax comb on one side and a curved blade for cleaning the rails on the other. Gone is the retro ‘surfer dude’ graphic so surf shops can provide their own custom logos. The new Wax Buddy II also fits handily in a back pocket.

It has been just a year since Di- Mauro decided to combine his love of surfing and the environment with his design skills to create an ergonomically-designed, ecofriendly, affordable tool for surfers. Business is good, re-orders are rolling in and the team at Endless Wave is planning to take the Wax Buddy global. They have added another surfer, Jonny Clancy, to the team. And, they are winning the support of the surfing community, as a quick look at some surfers’ blogs shows.

According to the Daily Stoke, “Wax comes off like a hot knife through butter. This is where the Wax Buddy rocks.” Bloggers on Surfy, Surfy said, “It’s like having a new board. Thanks, Wax Buddy” and “Wax Buddy has a handle, it’s genius.”

In talking with DiMauro, Keene and Pearson, it is obvious that their passion for surfing and a green lifestyle extends to their small company, based in DiMauro’s cottage on Howland Avenue, which doubles as the headquarters for DiMauro’s architecture firm.

The atmosphere at Endless Wave’s headquarters is casual and fun, and is one where the owners don’t hesitate to take a surf break when the waves are just right.

DiMauro, Pearson, Keene and Clancy remain true to their planetfriendly credo, working with local and national groups to organize and promote beach clean-ups and a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. “We all need to do what we can to keep our planet and our waves cleaner,” DiMauro said. “We think the boards we ride should reflect that attitude. Cleaner boards for cleaner waves.”

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