“For the time being, all our focus is on picking up the pieces and working on what’s next.” – Hayden Cox
At about 4pm on Saturday October 7, no less than 19 fire engines and 70 firefighters rushed to Tengah Crescent, Mona Vale as a massive blaze engulfed the Haydenshapes surfboard factory showroom. Luckily no-one was seriously hurt and parts of the property, along with neighbouring buildings were undamaged.
It could have been much worse, as post-Covid, the business had made the decision not to store large quantities of manufacturing materials like resin, acetone and foam blanks on site. Given the supply chain is back to normal, these materials are now simply ordered as needed.
Haydenshapes has been part of the local community for 25 years and surfers the world over consider their boards to be among the best available. Manly Observer spoke with Founder, Hayden Cox this week to see how he and wife Danielle were coping.
Hayden’s story started in Mona Vale when he did work experience as a 15 year old at a local surfboard factory. From there in 1997, the Haydenshapes brand was born. The first factory was located on Polo Avenue and then Bassett Street, before moving to the larger space on Tengah Crescent as the business grew.
Haydenshapes now has operations in the U.S. as well as Australia, with manufacturing arms in Mona Vale and Thailand.Their surfboards retail in some 72 countries around the world… yet it remains an independent company, led by a small team (primarily Hayden, Danielle and their staff) here on the Northern Beaches.
“The fire and the loss it caused have been really tough to take. We’re still in shock and processing it all”, said Hayden this week. “The NSW Fire and Rescue crew were unbelievable in containing the fire within our factory and ensuring that our neighbours’ buildings were saved from major damage.
“The fire and the loss it caused have been really tough to take. We’re still in shock and processing it all”
“First and foremost, I’m just so grateful that no one was seriously hurt – as any business owner would agree, that is the greatest fear in a situation like this. Australia and indeed the world have been so impacted by fire catastrophe in recent years and putting things in perspective, we’ve been fortunate in a tough situation. Nothing will ever compare with the loss of people, wildlife, homes, habitat and communities.”
And speaking of community, Hayden says the people of the northern beaches have been so supportive since this happened.
“Seriously, Danielle and myself are so grateful to all the people who have reached out to make sure everyone is okay. The number of phone calls and supportive messages we’ve received… it means so much to us.
“Fellow manufacturers, along with great people from Mona Vale, like board manufacturer Aido Wheeler, have offered to help as needed while we sort things out. I’m really proud that as an industry and local community, we all really support each other in times like this.
“I guess it’s all part of living on the Northern Beaches. I dreamed of living here when I was 12 and I’d catch the bus every weekend from my parents’ home in Gordon to go surfing. The lifestyle, the surf, boating and most of all, the people here… I just love it all.”
Although he doesn’t identify as an entrepreneur per se, his invention of what he calls FutureFlex technology completely changed the accepted way of producing a surfboard. His parabolic carbon fiber rail construction resulted in a more responsive board that was also lighter and stronger than traditional makes and helped put the brand on the map all around the world.
Hayden is also renowned for his sustainability-led innovations and is always looking for ways to reimagine surfboard production waste. Up to 40 per cent of raw materials in surfboard production, like foam dust and bio-epoxy resin, are traditionally discarded. But Hayden has used them to create surfboard components like fins, buttons for clothing and has used other excess materials for architecture builds and in furniture.
So how does he recover from having the place that’s been at the heart of his career, burned to the ground?
“With adversity comes strength, resilience and learning. Haydenshapes has always evolved by a more natural flow, rather than following a plan set in stone. I’m grateful for every year I continue to create. At the end of the day, I get the most enjoyment out of seeing other people (surfers in particular) enjoying what I design and make.”
It’s important to note that the owners of the factory building itself, two local men who do not want to be named, have also experienced a significant loss.
The two local men who own the factory itself say they have been devastated by the blaze which will be a significant rebuild. They issued a statement to Manly Observer saying they are devastated and facing a significant rebuild just “glad that no one was hurt.”
While the Haydenshapes showroom was completely destroyed in the fire, the company’s warehouse survived and team members Pat and Sam are still happy to take surfers through and show them the latest shapes and designs.
And as a wider community, we can support this amazing team by just dropping in to say hi.