Next-generation surfers keep it in the family
BY REBECCA TOLIN
Rusty Preisendorfer’s passion for shaping surfboards has made him an international icon. Now, the famed surfboard maker’s grown children are following in his sandy footsteps. After nearly 40 years of handcrafting boards, Preisendorfer was named Shaper of the Year by Surfing magazine in 2008. His kids, Clint and Avalon, started working in the Rusty Boardhouse as teenagers. After a stint playing minor league baseball for the Yankees, 24-year-old Clint Preisendorfer started shaping boards alongside his dad. While Avalon once wanted to be an astronaut, the 23-year-old artist can’t resist creating artwork for Rusty’s surfboards and clothing. “Dad is a very creative guy and I look to him for a lot of my inspiration,” Avalon explained from Fiji during a family surf trip. “When I do art on his surf boards, it’s like I’m doing art on his art.”
Josh Bernard has worked in his dad’s surf shop for 17 years. He’s only 29. Yep, the math means Bernard began his Surf Ride career at the ripe age of 12. Although “work” entailed playing with mini toy skateboards and sniffing root beer surf wax, as well as helping fit customers with shoes. “People were like, ‘How old are you? Isn’t that too young to work?’ ” Josh recounts. “Nah, my dad owns the store.” Not surprisingly, this early entrepreneur is now CEO of Surf Ride, with locations in Solana Beach and Oceanside. Josh assumed the top post when brother Dustin stepped down to design Surf Ride clothing. Their dad, Bill Bernard, and his twin brother, Richard, opened shop in 1974 and became known for stocking one of the largest surfboard selections in the country. Nice gig.
Josh Hansen didn’t plan to work in the family surf biz. For one thing, he didn’t surf. Hansen grew up skiing the mountains of Montana. Meanwhile, his father Don Hansen took business trips to Encinitas to check on the surf retail company he started in 1962. After Josh studied business technology at the University of Vermont, the dot-com bust dashed any other plans and prompted him to jump into the family enterprise. Josh’s parents, brother, and sister eventually followed him to San Diego and now all pitch in at Hansen’s. At 31, Josh oversees most of the day-to-day operations. They’re not big on official titles, but technically he’s the VP and his dad the CEO. “He’s been in retail for 50 years and the business is still thriving, knock on wood,” Josh said of his father. “So I look at everything he’s done and I go, ‘Geez, if I could do a tenth of what he’s done I’d be in pretty good shape.’ ”