To Market We Go | Spyder Man | Q & A With Dennis Jarvis

Not A Menace

Do you know this man? He’s Dennis Jarvis, the founder of Spyder Surfboards - Surfshops. He has a long list of accomplishments: former pro surfer, board shaper, actor, director, producer, husband, dad, boss man - to name a few. But I wanted to highlight him because of his acute attention to customer service. We recently ordered beach chairs from Spyder and were taken aback by two things. One, Dickie O’Reilly, managing partner of Spyder, hand delivered the chairs to our home within a couple days of placing the order. Two, there was a handwritten note attached with heartfelt words of gratitude for the purchase. I will forever be endeared to Spyder because of that note. So much so, that I wanted to talk to Dennis about why these small gestures are so important and have such a huge impact.

My Q & A With Dennis

Is there somewhere on the globe that you haven’t surfed yet?

LOL yes I always wanted to go to Bali but every time I was in Australia I would get too homesick and just want to come home. Those trips in the late 70’s early 80’s on the tour were LONG!—sometimes it would go a month between contests.

Which boards would you bring with you and why?

I always had a smaller quiver than most.  I made a small wave board (usually a twin fin) then a tri fin for medium sized performance waves then a single fin.  I trusted the single fin for some reason…now we make 3 and 4 fins for larger surf as the fins hold into the face better and there is less slide.

You’ve shaped boards for some of the top surfers in the world, did you ever imagine you’d shape a board for stars of acting and music?

Yeah, I made a LOT of boards. I actually built all the boards in the first Point Break film.  I also taught them (the cast) all how to surf!  They stayed at my house for about 8 months, Kathryn Bigelow wanted them to understand the ”surfer creed” was a lot of fun. Anthony Kiedis was in the film and I made a few special boards for him! I have been hired to tech advise on a lot of TV shows and films, but Point Break was the most fun I had and gave me the courage to become a director.

Where did the name Spyder come from?

Funny story, it was the late 70’s and I was a big “BUGS” Rabbit Bartholomew fan, he was an Australian surfer and had his own logo.  It was the WB from the Warner Bro’s logo and had Bugs Bunny leaning on the logo.  It was really cool. Well, I was working at the local discount surf shop and was shaping my own boards and thought I need a logo! That night I went to the store at 5 corners and was looking through the MAD magazine while I waited for my “hot dog” and pretzel to be bagged,  I saw in the margin (MAD always did little funnies in the margins like Spy vs. Spy etc…) there was this creepy Spider on the margin and under it was a really funny poem.  It was like…itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout, I smashed and squished it ‘til it’s guts came out.  Well something like that, but I was digging the Spider so I started hand painting it on my boards.  Then my friends would bring me their boards (even other brands) and they would PAY ME to paint it on their boards!  I knew it was a great logo and never looked back!

You’ve been in business for over 35 years, what’s the secret to your longevity?

I believe it is great customer service and having the best products.  Simple right? Well not really.  When I was at the discount surf shop I helped put 35 Surf Shops out of BIZ (think Jacobs, Dewey Weber, Unity, Reef…I have the list!)  But I was determined not to be put out of business and created a new way to help customers and it worked! Now Spyder Surf has 3 locations and if it weren’t for this Corona stuff we would have been looking at one more space closer to PV!

It blew me away when I saw a handwritten note from you attached to the beach chairs. Why is this personal touch so important?

We pride ourselves on getting it right.  That note was actually from Dickie O’Reilly my managing partner.  I love him!  EVERYBODY loves him! It's these special touches we work on ALL THE TIME!  He actually drove the products to your home and dropped them off.  We are a family run business and we all do deliveries! I have known Dickie since he was 12-13 and he feels like my son or at least my nephew!



What’s been the most challenging part of the last 2 months?

Knowing that liquor stores and other “essential” stores can be open and we can’t.  Target, Walmart, Home Depot, CVS may have some essential products but why do they get to sell any other product that are non-essential?  I mean people can’t walk around naked right? So I think clothes are more essential than a six pack of beer right?

What’s been the silver lining from the past two months?

We have had a great pouring out from our customer base. They want us to make it through all this.  We were the first to actually sponsor any high school surf teams, we kinda invented it.  We are also big supporters of a lot of Nonprofits like the Jimmy Miller Foundation, Jimmy was a good friend of mine.  But I want to thank all of you for stepping in and helping us save our business.  YES, we need more of you to help us out, it is a simple fact that if we don’t make it through we won’t be there to help you get the uniforms or produce the fundraiser needed to keep YOU alive, so thank you for supporting us, please tell your friends and families we need them as well!

What do you most love about the South Bay community?

Oh my, there is such an eclectic group of folks that live here it is never boring. I learned to surf on the South Side of Hermosa Pier and I was honored to be inducted into the Surfer’s Walk of Fame in 2015.  I have been one of the biggest loud mouths saying that Hermosa Beach is to surfing as Gutenberg was to books. Gutenberg didn’t actually invent the printing press but he did make it popular.  Same with our legends, the likes of Greg Noll, Dewey weber, Hap Jacobs, Dale Velzy, Eddie Underwood and a lot more.  I think I love the fact I have in a small way some of that DNA in my blood and want to continue to make the best surfboards I can, It makes me happy when I get a letter telling me that I actually gave someone a memory that will last a lifetime, like a tube ride or another maneuver they were working on.  I live here and love it!  “Surfing…It’ll change your life”


Many thanks to Molly Taylor for the write up and support! Please follow her @taylordigitalmarketing &

Original Link: To Market We Go | Spyder Man


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