Every man has—or should have—a passion he wishes he could dedicate his life to. RJ Murray (right) has done just that: he’s thrown his entire being into the water, literally, with Three Brothers Boards, a Daytona-based standup paddleboard company that he and brother Justin (left) formed to pay tribute to their late brother Jason. Murray is now living the dream, beginning every day clearing his head, paddling around. We asked him about old-school board designs, why he makes his boards in America and how you can chase your dream.
When we get our boards into a shop, I’m not in the shop. I’m out on a board, showing someone by actually paddling. Anyone can talk about how great their board is. I want people to see it.
MADE MAN: How does a person get into making paddleboards?
RJ MURRAY: My brothers and I made boards for ourselves when we were kids. I made my first board when I was 10 years old. I saw a show on television and we went to the library and got books on how to make boards. I started making paddleboards because I couldn’t find one. I could order one from Hawaii, but the shipping was twice the price of the board. So I made my own. Later, we grew up and went into finance and healthcare. When my youngest brother passed away, we had to reassess everything. Life was passing us by, and we weren’t doing what we wanted to do. I moved to the beach and didn’t know what I was going to do, really. I was just out paddling one day and it hit me: This is what we need to do. Literally the next week we were making boards. It just grew from there.
MM: What’s a typical workday like for you?
RM: I work out of an office in the back of our Daytona shop. I wish that I were on the water more, but I am on the water every day. We were looking to create a job out of what we loved and we didn’t want to give up the part that we loved. Every morning when I wake up, I paddle. It helps clear my head. If I can’t do it then, I do it at lunch. Then I check on any issues we might have with customer service. I’m going to stand behind our product. I’m not going to send you to a customer service line, even if it might be cheaper. Then I check out manufacturing. Making sure everything is being produced properly and going out at the right times. I guess it’s not as exciting as I thought.
This rig ($199) lets you outfit your board for fishing. How cool is that?
MM: Honestly, how many guys wish they had a job that began with them clearing their head on the water, though?
RM: Well, we have a joke about board meetings, because we’ve never had a meeting that wasn’t on the water. When we get our boards into a shop, I’m not in the shop. I’m out on a board, showing someone by actually paddling. Anyone can talk about how great their board is. I want to show them. I want them to see it.
MM: How do you design these boards? Not the construction, but the design. What it looks like.
RM: I saw all these boards that were bright colors and looked like something Picasso might put on the water. Those were great for that customer, but I wanted something timeless that wouldn’t expire. So we did a lot of research into old-school surfers, the guys who started the sport. We combine elements of different classic boards that have never gone out of style. A lot of times, people get done surfing and the board goes in their garage or gets sold. I don’t want that to happen with us. I want people to retire and put them on the wall.
MM: Why does it matter to you personally and your business that things are made in America?
RM: You don’t know what you’re going to get. I want to be able to walk down the street and see what’s being made. We’ve actually tried to produce overseas. But consistency is really important to us. Besides, everyone is taking their business out of the country. We want to keep it here and hope that others follow that trend.
MM: Why is there more of an interest in American-made goods?
RM: The economy. We used to be the biggest producers in the world. Now we don’t produce much, but we consume a lot. If more was made in America, there would be more jobs and more money to spend.
MM: What would you say to the guy who wants to quit the finance industry and chase his dream?
RM: People think it’s easy, but I have a wife and daughter to take care of. I was scared. My wife was scared. If you have passion behind something and you have a work ethic, jump into it and do it. This is what we want to do every day for the rest of our lives. If you’ve got that true passion, you’re not going to fail. People can see that and they want to be part of it. You’ll succeed.
The 12-foot Jason Ryan ($1,299) is Three Brothers’ most versatile board. Get one today!