The story of Dan Heritage

By Heritage Surf and Sport

In 1962 Dan's interest in surfing began after reading an ad in Popular Mechanic. The article was on how to build your own surfboard. Having spent many summer days in the Jersey surf as a kid, he had a love for the ocean. With a few friends, he sent away for the materials and instructions.

After testing their skills (if you could call it that) on three foam boards they proceeded to try their hands on glassing. After the glassing of one board they were evicted from the basement to the garage. There they finished the others. Dan and his friends were ready to test ride their new surfboards. It only took a half an hour before Dan's board broke in half in the shorebreak.

He would open a concession stand in Ocean City, New jersey in 1963. Along with the concession stand, he operated a small store in his hometown of Vineland, New Jersey, which was about 40 miles from the beach. Surfing was taking off on the East Coast and Dan happened to be on this wave that was getting bigger.

The year was 1964, and Dan opened up his first Surf Shop. It was located in Sea Isle, New Jersey, and was named Little Wave Surf Shop. Little Wave was one of G&S first distributors on the East Coast. Beside G&S Surfboards there were Ventura Plastic Poparts and Ernie Tanaka Surfboards. Business was growing at Little Wave, but Dan's worked full time for a chemical laboratory as a supervisor to support his wife and two kids. Having worked for Burlington Fabrics, he helped design the fiberglass warp and weft structure, the ounces and softness at Burlington.

Whenever he got the chance, Dan would be surfing. Weekly surf contest became standard for the many surf shop sponsored teams, but it was a challenge to those owners including Dan to manage their schedules. He contributed his time to coordinate several competitive events, besides never missing to qualify his team for the East Coast Championship at Hatteras.

From 1968 Dan Heritage began manufacturing his own boards on a full time basis. Because of the limited experience in board manufacturing on the east coast, Dan had to teach all of his employees the aspects of each process. This included shaping, glassing, sanding, pinlining and glossing. Dan Heritage became known as one of the best pinliner on the east coast.

Everything Dan accomplished was self taught. He worked endless hours with a persistance and determination to be the best that he could. He was never afraid to try new ideas. When Ross Houston opened up the Surf Expo in Virginia Beach, Dan was among the first supporters. Dan was considered one of the few avid supporters of the east coast surf industry.

In 1971 Dan built his main retail location at Sea Isle City, New Jersey. It was then that his wife and kids began getting involved with the business. Skateboards had been making a comeback. While Dan made wooden and fiberglass kicktail decks, the rest of the family was assembling, packaging and shipping them to other dealers. Since Dan's Dad was an artist and photographer in the advertising field, he lent his expertise in the promotion of Little Wave products. Dan's Dad designed the family crest logo for the first Heritage Surfboard logo." What better name to give your boards thanyour own?" His Dad said. From that time on Little Wave became known as Heritage Surf and Sport.

A second store was established in 1978 in Ocean City, New Jersey and a third was opened in 1982 in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. In 1986 after two decades of shaping surfboards and working with resins, Dan began to scale down the manufacturing operation. Dan retired in 1989 due to health reasons. His family would manage the business and Dan would go fishing. In February of 1997 Dan Heritage passed away. He had been one of the early pioneers of East Coast Surfing and help build the East Coast Surf Industry.

COPYRIGHT 2020 THOMAS TAKAO