Surf Manufacturers and Retailers Come Together at Industry Boot Camp

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (October 25, 2011) – On Monday, October 24, more than 135 manufacturers and retailers reported for duty at Industry Boot Camp, co-presented by the SurfIndustry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) and Board Retailers Association (BRA). For the third time in the Boot Camp series, SIMA and BRA partnered to bring surf manufacturers and retailers together for educational seminars, roundtable discussions and valuable networking time. The ocean-front conference rooms at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach, Calif., were filled with attendees who were engaged in seminars thatoffered lessons on consumer research, web search optimization, marketing campaigns, public relations, media and driving sales. The event, sponsored by Surf Expo and UPS, was deemed a success by those in attendance.

“Today’s SIMA and BRA Industry Boot Camp was truly valuable for the 50 surf manufacturing companies and shops participating,” said Doug Palladini, SIMA President and VP of Marketing for Vans. “Any time we can get retailers and manufacturers together for a day of shared learning, it’s a positive thing.”

The morning kicked off with a keynote address by Kelly Gibson, President & CEO/ Rip Curl USA. Moderated by SIMA’s Executive Director, Sean Smith, in a conversation format Gibson offered insight on his vision for Rip Curl in the U.S. market, his personal thoughts on the current state of the industry and why he believes events and athletes remain an integral part of a brand’s success. Gibson expressed his passion for the industry’s core, the sport and how he believes the surf industry is the strongest it has ever been.

“As far as the state of the surf industry goes, wow, people are going to laugh at me, but I think we are thestrongest we’ve ever been,” said Gibson while addressing the Boot Camp attendees. “I think if you look at the true surf enthusiasts, whether it’s the core participants or someone that’s really interested in surf, there’s never been more. You go out in the water and you’re like, where did all these people come from? And if you look at the innovation we’ve had to do now, theinnovation I have seen in the sport of surfing in the last three to five years is probably the most I’ve ever seen and I’ve never seen surfing progress at such a fast rate.”

Following Gibson’s keynote address attendees had their choice to attend three of six seminars offered. With two separate conference rooms, seminars took place simultaneously and Boot Camp attendees could handpick the seminars that would benefit their business most.

The first seminar of the morning, Organic Search Strategy, was presented by Mark Lavoritano, Account Manager/ SEER Interactive. The theme of Lavoritano’s talk was how to drive internet traffic to your website through links, social media and search engines. While incorporating key search words into web titles and on web pages is the best way to increase search results today, Lavoritano advised the audience to start factoring search optimization skills into social sites such as Facebook and Twitter as he thinks social media is the future of search optimization.

While Lavoritano was presenting, Alexis Kopikis, Founder and President/ Krush, was speaking on his presentation titled Generation Why: An Interactive Consumer Panel Discussion, in the seminar room next door. Moderating a candid discussion with three consumers, Kopikis asked the panel about their purchase influences, decisions, shopping style and opinions on current trends. Kopikis encouraged attendees to use data, such as mass consumer feedback on Facebook, to see what is actually going on with consumers. Attendees were intrigued by the fresh and real time feedback from the panelists as well as the data compiled by Krush.

In the second round of seminars, John Faris, Director of Cross-Channel Marketing/ Red Door Interactive, presented Driving Offline Sales with Location-Based Social and Search Tactics. Some of the key takeaways from Faris’ presentation included the importance of having a mobile site, that smartphones play a large role in shopping, and that 70% of people search for local businesses online while 77% of those people searching then follow-up by contacting the business after their search.

While Faris was on stage in one room, Michael Tomson, industry leader and founder of Gotcha, led a State of the Industry Panel Discussion in the other room. Panelists Nick Cocores, Owner/ Thalia Surf Shop; Bruce Cromartie, Owner/ BC Surf & Sport; Mark Price, CEO/ Firewire; and Charlie Setzler, President/ Rusty North America, had a candid discussion regarding the present condition of surf retail and fashion. The panel unanimously encouraged attendees to take risks in design, carry new brands and not play it safe. Tomson summed up the overall theme of the panel by telling attendees to have their brands take risks, tell stories and to stay true to what they do – surf.

For the third seminar of the morning, Mike Lewis, Editor-in-Chief/ TransWorld Business, took the stage to lead a panel discussion on PR and the Media – Conveying Our Story to the Masses. The panelists included PR expert Lora Bodmer MacDowell, Founder/ Deep Communications, and seasoned media member Rebecca Nordquist, General Editor/ ESPN The Magazine. The discussion shed light on how to get surf into the mainstream media. A few of the tips that MacDowell and Nordquist offered the audience included sharing human interest stories on athletes with the media, have a “hook” that will interest readers when pitching the media on a story, provide easy access for interviews and facts and most importantly act in a timely manner to meet the media’s deadlines.

While public relations and media was being discussed in one room, the room next door featured a presentation titled Tips for Better Online Marketing Campaigns by Chris Di Cesare, Head of Creative Programming/ Google. Attendees left the session blown away by Di Cesare’s real life marketing examples and inspired to do the same for their brand or store. Di Cesare’s top five digital marketing tips included: go where consumers are going, entertain vs. force feed messages, leverage the power of partners, encourage consumer engagement and drive user participation.

With the conclusion of the seminars, attendees enjoyed a lunch break filled with networking and discussion. After lunch, the Boot Camp resumed with the second portion of the programming: roundtables. There were 11 roundtable discussions and each attendee was randomly assigned to participate in nine of the roundtable topics. With each table discussion lasting 20 minutes, the attendees moved from topic to topic discussing new ideas, industry challenges and thoughts for the future. Roundtable topics included: Balancing New and Traditional Media: Creating the Right Mix of Elements for your Brand or Store; Best Practices in Discounting; Executing Successful Social Media at a Local Level; Marketing: What Really Drives Store Traffic?; Maximizing the Rep-Retailer Relationship; New Product Trends: Gaining Buzz at Retail with Hanging Footwear, Boardshort Technology, SUP & More; Nurturing Co-Marketing Initiatives – Investing in your Consumer’s Community; Telling your Brand or Shop Story to the Masses; The Role of New and Emerging Brands in Surf: How Does the Industry Support our Next Volcom?; and Where has the Surfer Girl Gone?: Strategies to Combat Forever 21 and H&M.

“Industry Boot Camp has become an invaluable event for retailers and manufacturers to address our biggest challenges as an industry,” said Coco Tihanyi, BRA Co-Chairperson andPresident/Owner of Surf Diva Boutique. “This collaboration also yields innovative ideas that can change how we do business. I’m completely inspired.”

In its fourth year, SIMA Boot Camps are educational and intimate seminars that aim to provide valuable business tips and tools to help SIMA member companies improve a variety of daily business operations. The Boot Camp seminar topics change from Boot Camp-to-Boot Camp with the goal of reaching a variety of employees and departments within SIMA member companies. All levels of employees from any department who would benefit from the educational seminars and industry networking time are encouraged to attend. Visit for more information on upcoming Boot Camps.

To view photos of Industry Boot Camp, please visit To receive information on future Boot Camps, please contact