Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Industry Notes

Industry Profile- Chad Wells

CWells roasting a donkey!

There’s a lot that goes into the job of a sponsored surfer. There’s no set routine, yet most pro surfers pursue careers which demand similar elements. You’ve got to travel, shoot photo’s, attend autograph signing’s and promotional events, compete in contests, and turn heads free surfing, all the while acting as a positive representative of the companies that support you. Many people may hear this and ask what all the fuss is about? To them, it all sounds exciting and fun, and wonder why any pro surfer would stress out or complain about their job.
On the surface, it would seem as though they’re asking a legitimate question. How could someone gripe about traveling the globe, surfing perfect waves, partying at exclusive events, and getting paid to do so? What the average bystander doesn’t understand, however, is the amount of physical and emotional demands placed on this tribe of professional globe-trotters. There’s a great deal of planning, training, networking, flying, driving, waiting, hoping and praying that come together which can at times create a hectic and stressful lifestyle.
Luckily, most surfer’s have team manager’s who help ease the stress involved in such activities, and its their job to make sure their team has everything they need to succeed. Surfs hot recently caught up with Quiksilver’s Chad Wells, for some insight regarding the duties required of a team manager, as well as a bit of his own personal history to help illustrate his journey through the ranks of the surf industry.

1. How did you come to work for Quiksilver?

It’s a little bit of a long story but in a nutshell, Strider got my number from a friend named Rob Colby who happened to work at Quiksilver, and rang me out of the blue one afternoon. At the time I was glassing and hot coating at Chas Surfboards, judging all the domestic WQS and Air Show events and coaching the high school surf team at Marina High in HB. So anyways, he rang me up and asked if I’d interview with him and I knew Strider a little bit from comps. The last time I’d seen him was a year or two prior walking up the path at Rocky Pt., so I guess he knew who I was at least. Taylor Whisenand, Greg Macias, Todd Kline and Strider hired me on Dec. 1st, 2003 and I’ve been here ever since. I’ll never forget that day!

2. Being a pro surfer at one time yourself, do you feel this gives you any edge or advantage to your job?

Ha! My pro surf career was nothing more than checking the “pro” box when I filled out my entry back then. I think from my past experiences being a sponsored surfer at one time, coaching the kids at the high school, and the opportunity to be involved in judging helps me tremendously every day. I can relate to the grom’s and can spot technique or equipment flaws and giving them a good formula before their heats. The part that I had no advantage in was the everyday office, corpo stuff and how to work with the magazines. Fortunately for me I have had really good mentoring from Todd Kline and Strider in both of those areas.

3. What is your job title and what does it entail?

I’m officially the surf team manager. Its funny because really the way I look at it is, I work for the athletes most of the time, they work for me some of the time and we all work for the company full time. My job mainly consists of a lot of follow up calls, emails and txt messages are an everyday occurrence. Organizing plane tickets, accommodations, transportation, paying entries, calling the mag’s, parent’s, photog’s, uploading blogs on our website, ordering clothing, wetsuits, managing budgets, submitting incentives, contracts, attending surf events, industry functions, identifying new prospects and every now and then go on a surf trip. That’s pretty much it but I’m sure I forgot something! It’s the best job in the world but most people don’t really understand how much actually goes into it. I take it pretty seriously and if you’ve ever called me and I didn’t pick up, I guarantee you’ll get a call back within a few hours.

4. It seems that everyone has been hard hit by the latest economic collapse. How has this affected Quiksilver? Your job in particular? Any predictions on how it will all play out?

I think the reason its affected Quiksilver the most is just the fact that we are a public company and we’re on Wall Street where anyone can go on the net and get information on us has been the # 1 culprit of some crazy rumors. But a company similar in size with the current state of the economy has to make some pretty tough calls, that’s just the way it is. Trimming back on things that can be sacrificed is probably the biggest result. With my job particularly having to clarify rumors has been the biggest affect bar none! But the other thing is taking a hard look at the way I manage the budget and trying to make good decisions for the team and beneficial for the brand. As far as the situation we’re in now with the economy being the worst its been since the 30’s or something only time will tell. It will eventually turn around but when that will happen is really anyone’s guess.

5. What's your favorite part of your job? Does it allow you to get out and surf still?

By far the best is being able to get in the water with some of the best surfers in the world or any of the team guys in their areas. Whether its little grom Matty P. at the HB Pier or Pete Mel at Pleasure’s it’s a blessing to be able to have a surf with those guys at their spots. Traveling is also a favorite. Its how I met my wife on the beach in France 4 years ago and I’ve visited at least 5 countries a couple of times over now. As for getting in the water, I’m recovering from back surgery last Jan now, but I was getting after it every day and there’s no complaints there.

6. The surf industry and media is always going through trends and phases. From the Momentum generation riding potato chip thin boards and acting terribly in surf movie skit's in the 90's, to neon board short wearing teenager's with six figure contract's flipping out in the 00's, the trends seem to carry the movement of the sport. What's next? And more importantly, how does the tattered economy dictate such shifts? Personally, I'd like to see a focus on the bad boy. Ad's of Geoff Brack breaking his own nose (board and face) with his fists. Sequences of Aaron Cormican taking bong rips. It would be awesome. What would you like to see? The next trend in surfing?

I couldn’t even tell ya! I don’t mind fluro actually but I’m hoping the weird tight pants thing goes away. I think Dane Reynolds has really given the kids a great role model to look up to. He can do some of the most technical airs and with serious loft, throws down power turns and geared his act to qualify for the WCT and re-qualifying showed he wasn’t a fluke and that he deserved to be there. The groms of today will be really gnarly when they are 18-20yrs old. The troubled economy will likely make it a lot harder for the kids who are thinking they are going to be pro surfers who are great surfers, but if it continues to be bad they’re going to have to be amazing in order to make a living at it. I would like to see a little more grit as well. Not necessarily the bad boy, but a little more edge and not in a gay pair of tight pants…haha! I‘d like to see more unity out of the Americans. The Gudauskas brothers are solid and their crew rally behind each other but just more support for each other just lifts everyone’s spirits and even if they aren’t your best buddy, they’re still an American.



Koa Smith is one pissed off grom! photo- Ripcurl

I’m a grom and I’m angry. I’m sick and tired of the older boys dropping in on me and taking all my waves. I’m fed up with the titty twisters, dead legs, monkey bumps, and Mexican Hat Dances. I don’t like picking licorice out of my hair after being dumped headfirst into the trash can. Why do the older guys pat me down for lunch money every time I go to the beach to check the surf? I can feel my blood boil when they talk trash on my older sister and my mom. Maybe I should take some Ju Jitsu classes and learn how to wrap these bullies into a pretzel. Too bad I’m just a little fella, and all I have are these wiry arms and chicken legs. I’m growing though, so they had better just watch out. Man, sometimes it’s tough being a grom. I’m so angry. Good thing I can go out surfing and get rid of some of this pent up aggression. All I have to do is paddle out and unleash my fury on some innocent, unsuspecting lip. It’s such a relief when I feel my fins blow out the back of the wave, my body tapping my minds inner anger to execute extreme acrobatics. As I pump down the line of this well groomed launch ramp, all the noogies, wet willies, and your momma jokes act as fuel for my lethal lift- off. When I stick my angst aided aerial, my angry quickly subsides. The feeling of stoke after pulling a big move is enough to cure any case of bad mojo. A couple tubes later I’m ready to come in a happy camper, completely calmed from a successful session of liquid therapy. Like the icing on top, it turns out all the older guys were watching my session from the beach. What better way to get my revenge than to put them to shame on my own terms. The cherry on tops comes when I walk by the crew of ruffians and hear one of the boys address me. “Sick wave little guy. Not bad for a grom”. I smile and walk by, and for once I don’t feel so angry.


Boothy loves his donuts! ph-Cornut Wilson

Boothy! Kyle Buthman, aka Boothy, is one odd fellow. Around strangers, Boothy is usually quite reserved and shy. Once he’s in a comfortable environment with his buddies surrounding him, he looses his marbles. I’ve heard some of the weirdest things in my life come out of the kids mouth, and I love it. For the boys, Boothy’s bizzarre quirks and off the wall remarks provide non stop comedy. In the water, Boothy continues the insanity. His committed, on rail approach to surfing perfectly suites the high energy surf found in and around Santa Cruz County. Oh yah, Boothy loves the tube. When the surf is up you’ll likely catch Kyle charging one of SC’s slurping slabs or spine snapping shorepounds, searching out the tube with reckless abandon. He has taken his big wave act to the perilous reefs of Oahu’s North Shore, as well as the thumping beach breaks of Mainland Mexico. Next item on Boothy’s agenda are the ominous waters of Mavericks in Half Moon Bay. Its only natural, as he has always looked up to local legend Peter Mel, one of the few highly skilled waterman to challenge Mavericks at it’s biggest. Last week Boothy paddled out on a small day, and managed to catch a couple. Now that he’s broken the ice, hopefully he’ll get the chance to catch some bombs this Winter. Yah Boothy!!!