Monday, 14 December 2009

A new breed of shaper

Rob Shaddick, lives and surfs in North Devon. When he’s not surfing he can be found in his shaping workshop surrounded by dust with a pungent smell of resin filling the air. He’s shaped for Reubyn Ash, Lyndon Wake, Beau Bromham, Karma Worthington, Ben Haworth, Alex Baker, Nick Lloyd and over 600 other surfers worldwide so how has he remained so elusive?

Rob is a different breed of shaper. With a background as an NHS audiologist Rob has been quietly developing and shaping custom surfers ear protection for the last 4 years. Surfplugs was started by helping out a few of his mates with Surfers Ear and surfing related ear problems but has grown into a business that now produces over 300 sets of Surfplugs per year – and average of six sets per week.

“Off the shelf products just don’t provide the performance that most surfers crave. Earplugs are such an individual thing; it can make a huge difference what type you use.”

Customization is the key to Rob’s success in the business. Every Surfplug that Rob makes is as unique as the surfer riding it. Surfplugs are produced completely in-house, ensuring the very best quality, design, finish and customer service every step along the way.

In a startling similarity to surfboard manufacture each Surfplug is hand shaped and sanded to the individual requirement before adding personalised design, logos and finished with gloss coats. Leashes are added to keep them secure and they are then packaged in a zip bag and returned to the customer.

Surfing is still largely a tribal affair, and developments or new products are often viewed with suspicion. Rob decided to build the business slowly and relied on word of mouth and the positive feedback that his customers were providing.

‘We figured that if the product didn’t work then nobody would recommend Surfplugs. Fortunately our customers think they are great!’

Rob says, ‘In our first year we only made 18 sets and despite the recession we have seen growth each year and now produce over 300 pairs a year. It’s encouraging to learn that Surfers are really investing in their health’.

Wetsuit technology has enabled Surfers to remain in the water for longer. Frontiers are being pushed and previously unachievable cold water destinations are now being surfed. With longer exposure to cold water conditions a rise in Surfers Ear and surfing related ear problems is expected. Surfplugs are the custom product designed for ultimate performance and protection against Surfers Ear.

For more information about Surfplugs visit: or email: