Andreas Hart concentrates as he slowly pulls the tape off of a surfboard, one of his own creations. He has been waiting for the resin to set for two hours, and is now back to coat the other side. Hart is the founder and sole proprietor of Hart Surf Co., a Halifax-based company that designs and makes surfboards.
This has been a huge year for Hart Surf Co., starting with a sold-out launch party in January. He won second place in a business competition at the University of New Brunswick, and the first board orders are starting to roll in.
Officially a company since Feb. 1, Hart Surf Co. is now selling surfboards, which can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Hart has a few different designs that he uses, and then makes the board to fit the customer.
His small one-room shop, located at the Dalhousie University Sexton campus, is full of surfboards and equipment. Each corner has four or five surfboards stacked together, each at different stages in the design process.
The boards are anywhere from basic foam cut outs to being finished and ready to paint. The process starts with Hart coming up with the dimensions and entering them into his computer. The dimensions then get sent to his machine, which cuts the foam into a board shape. He says the general shape ideas are based off of boards he’s used in the past, but he comes up with all of the dimensions.
The process really started when Hart and some fellow students built the machine, called a CNC surfboard router, during the final year of his mechanical engineering degree at Dalhousie in 2014.
“I wanted to do it after I finished my degree, but then one of my friends, while we were out enjoying ourselves, was like, ‘Why don’t you just do it now?’ And then the next day I sent an email to my professor and asked if I could … and then eight months later we had a machine that worked, and just started designing boards from there.”
Originally from Dartmouth, N.S., Hart has been a passionate surfer since the age of 13. He taught himself how to make surfboards. He says he used his knowledge of surfing, mechanical engineering, trial and error, and the Internet, to figure out how to make the boards. He says he is continuously learning. Next week, he is going to make his first standup paddle board, and eventually wants to start making skateboards as well.
After finishing his engineering degree, Hart started auditing business classes at Dalhousie to learn how to formally start his own business.
While there are others in Nova Scotia who make surfboards, Hart says he is the only one doing it full time and trying to make an established company out of it. “Nova Scotia has been getting a lot of publicity over the past two winters for its surf … It’s going to take some time obviously, but I’m trying to gain some trust,” says Hart.
Hart says right now he is working on a video that will showcase local surfers using his boards, and what he is most excited about, putting together a surf team with the ultimate goal of the team travelling together and representing his boards.
Surfboards and art
Hart is also connecting with local artists who paint the boards when they are finished, providing one-off designs that can’t be found anywhere else. On April 18, his boards will be featured in The Collective Art Show, hosted by the Blackbook Collective, which will showcase more than 20 local artists.
Local artist Heidi Wambolt has done the art for several of Hart’s boards. She says her style of work focuses on aquatic life and themes, so working with Hart was a perfect fit.
“Andreas is great to work with. He makes suggestions but gives me a lot of space and freedom to do my own work,” says Wambolt.
“With Andreas’ laid back suggestions, the freedom of artistic expression, and my eagerness to keep painting and producing, more boards will definitely be on the way!”
Hart says his next step is to get a bigger workshop outside of the city — preferably in the Lawrencetown, Seaforth, and Martinique area. He says he wants to stay in Nova Scotia and keep trying to get his name out there.
“It’s exciting to see where it takes me,” says Hart.