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Inspiring Conversations with Justin Looney of Looney Surf Company and The Yard Doctor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Looney. 

Justin, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My Dad “Phil” was a 1970s Florida surfer and craftsman who picked up shaping from the Nichols Brothers at the Chicken House here in Titusville, FL. He gave me my first board when I was twelve in 1992. It was a used 5-10 Island Surf Shop Ricky Caroll with two glass in fins and a tri-fin fin box. I shaped and glassed my first board with him in 1995 when I was around fifteen. That board a 7′ 0″ fun shape that was the easiest board to surf on. I took it on my first surf trip to Cape Hatteras with my uncle Joe right after he finished it. My next board was a 6-0 twin fin fish that he shaped. I was pretty much the only kid out there on a big round-nose twin fin fish. It was so different. The way it turned caught waves, just different. He loved egg shapes, fishes, and just old-school designs that he knew worked. I definitely think I started young with a range of board design, even when everyone just surfed potato chips. I am sure a lot of my shaping still to this day comes from him. 

I have been blessed to grow up surfing Playalinda and other Brevard and Volusia spots on various types of boards. Now… Fast forward thirty years later, and I am just as passionate about surfing and surfboards as I was when I was a kid. I love working with the surfer and to determine what works best for them. I focus on matching the board with the surfer and the wave. Every person is different, and one size does not fit all. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I left surfing and Florida when I graduated High School in 1996. I went in the Army to get away from the party scene that I was heavily involved in. 

I stayed in the military for 21 years which included active duty, National Gaurd, and Reserve time. I had a good career in Information Technology in Raleigh, N.C., and only surfed on occasion. 

In 2017 I found myself in a hard divorce and decided to move back to Florida to be with family and marry my childhood crush Deana. 

I gained a lot of weight working in I.T. and decided no way. If I keep gaining weight, I would not be able to surf. So, I started eating right and working out, and surfing as much as possible. I lost 50 pounds and fell back in love with surfing. Then I wanted to make my own boards, then I wanted to make my friends’ boards, then I thought maybe I could make a little business out of this. I make the boards out of love of surfing and the challenge of combining art, science, and craftsmanship together. It would be awesome to have a successful surfboard label. But I am happy with just building a few here and there for people out of love for making them. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
My main gig is my landscaping business The Yard Doctor, and Looney Surfboards is my side gig, at least for now. 

Landscaping and surfboard shaping have a big overlap. In both areas, you are allowed to take a medium and transform them to something beautiful. At the end of each board or project, you get to look at something you created. They both are perfect for those who like instant gratification. 

When I was at IBM, the EPA, and the Army, it was more about punching the clock and doing your assigned work. It was comfortable but a little more mundane. 

I have enjoyed all aspects of my career for different reasons. I am just taking the opportunities as they are presented. But making surfboards is probably my favorite thing in the world to do. So, it is really just like the saying says if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. So, I do what I love as much as I can. 

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc.?
I’m on social media a good bit with marketing and research checking out surfing-related content. 

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