It’s no accident that many of the McTavish artisans have been associated with the brand for decades. Says Bob: “Our factory has always been a gathering place for people who know and appreciate the skills of our industry and the quality of the boards we produce. It also helps that when you’ve been around each other for a long while, you know each other’s foibles, and it becomes a bit like family. It creates a happy and productive working environment.”Producing just 20-25 boards a week, the McTavish craftsmen know that the reputation of the brand rests on the quality of their individual work, and their ability to function well as a team.
Bob McTavish (Founder and Shaper)
Industry Experience: 54 years
Years Surfing: 60
Bob McTavish has been a household name for two generations of surfers. Over more than half a century in the industry, Bob has shaped thousands of custom boards for happy customers around the world in a career which began in the early 1960s, learning his trade from the ground up, working for pioneer board brands such as Scott Dillon, Dale, Hayden, Bob Davie, Morey-Pope, Keyo, and Cord. The McTavish brand dates back to 1962 when Bob McTavish Tailormade Surfboards emerged from the back room of Scott Dillon’s factory, but really came into its own when Bob made the move to the North Coast in 1969.
Always an innovator in surfboard design and technology, Bob has pioneered cutting edge changes to the basic concept of a surfboard since 1965, when he began to refine rail and bottom design to maximize performance. This was the very beginning of the movement that would become known as the shortboard revolution, in which Bob’s role was pivotal, but in fact is only a part of his ongoing contribution to the evolution of the surfboard.
Now in his eighth decade, Bob continues to push the limits of surfboard design across the full range of wave-riding vehicles, still testing his prototypes in the surf almost every day.
BEN MCTAVISH (SHAPER)
Like his famous dad, Ben left school at 14 to make his start in surfboard manufacturing as a glasser. Now 42, he has more experience across the entire industry than anyone else of his age, having operated his own shortboard brand for 15 years before integrating it into McTavish Surfboards. As head shaper, Ben now does the bulk of boards coming out of the factory each week.
Says his proud dad: “Ben is one of the few shapers who really knows how to carve a rocker on boards ranging from five feet to twelve feet long. In the age of computer shaping, that’s a dying art. I guess Ben was thrown in at the deep end when it comes to shaping, but he just took his time and steadily learned the skills.”
ALONZO PUNKER (ARTIST)
The son of a famous Israeli artist, Alonzo got his start in the surfboard industry working as a spray artist for Town & Country in Hawaii in the late 1970s, where some of his best known works were seen on Martin Potter’s colourful quivers. He later worked for the brand in Australia before moving across to McTavish. A surfboard all-rounder, Alonzo can turn his hand to any aspect of production, and is an accomplished glasser and sander. With the era of painted boards slowly fading, he has now switched his focus to resin art.
BILL MCLEAN (LAMINATOR)
An industry veteran, Bill started with Bill Cilia on the NSW Central Coast in 1968, before moving to San Juan Surfboards in Byron in 1971, when he also started glassing Bob McTavish boards. When McTavish moved from Lennox Head to Byron in the 1990s, Bill joined the team full time.
JONNO COLE (POLISHER)
A Byron local, Jonno began glassing and polishing at McTavish about a decade ago and is now the number one polisher for the brand.
STEVE KENCH (SANDER)
Steve, originally from Newcastle, started with the brand in the late 1980s. His madcap sense of humour is a feature of the factory.
MAL BUGDEN (FINS & GLOSS-COATING)
Another Byron local, Mal started in the industry in 1971 at San Juan Surfboards, working after school and weekends when he would also wet-rub McTavish boards before they were gloss-coated. Another respected all-rounder, he worked for many brands, including Michael Cundith, before re-joining the McTavish team 20 years ago.