Made In Virginia 2013: Frierson Designs Surfboards, Virginia Beach

Frierson Designs Surfboards

Mark Edward Atkinson

Frierson Designs Surfboards

“The old joke is, ‘How long does it take to shape a surfboard?’” says Bill Frierson of Frierson Designs in Virginia Beach. “And I say ‘48 years!’” Frierson, 66, can actually shape a custom board by hand, using saws, planes, grinders and an assortment of small hand-tools, in just a couple of hours, but that’s only because he’s been doing it for nearly five decades. He says that the physical dimensions of the rider and his or her ability factor into the size and shape of the boards he creates: “Being a surfer/shaper, I try to get lost in the shape, I try to become the person that’s going to ride that board. It’s a thrill to be involved in that creative moment where nothing else really matters and you give it all you’ve got.”

Frierson’s custom work has seen him named to both the East Coast Surfing Championships Legends and East Coast Legends Hall of Fame. He started out doing repairs as a teenager in the Virginia Beach surf shop of Bob White, who then took Frierson on as a shaper when he started the now famous Wave Riding Vehicles company in 1967. Frierson and business partner Les Shaw bought the company from White in 1974 and grew it into the biggest surfing company on the East Coast, shaping 3,000 boards per year. In 1997, Frierson sold his half of WRV and started Frierson Designs. He now shapes only 60 or so boards per year, mostly for long-term customers. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I have guys that have been with me for 45 years,” says Frierson. $100 per foot.

View All the Made in Virginia Awards 2013 Winners:


Angela Bacskocky Bags, Richmond

Page Stationery, Richmond

Cestair Sheep and Wool, Augusta Springs


Reginald’s Homemade Nut Butters, Richmond

Good News Granola, Palmyra

Honey Habanero Sauce, Spotsylvania


Henderson Guitar Shop, Grayson County

Big Lick Amps, Salem

Cabin Creek Musical Instruments, Whitetop


Frierson Designs Surfboards, Virginia

Hope Springs Farm Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Orlean

BB Bat Company Youth Baseball Bats, Virginia Beach


Edmund Davidson Knives, Goshen

Natural Woodworking CO., Floyd

Old Dominion Leather Nectar, Lynchburg

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