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Michael Tomson on Quik, Billabong, Volcom & more

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 19, 2008 7:05 AM

I stopped by Michael Tomson's house in Laguna Beach to pick up a copy of his new book, "Goin' Big: Gotcha and the Evolution of Modern Surf Style" by Kevin O'Sullivan.


The book comes out Feb. 25 and will be available on Surfline.com. It tells the story of Michael and Gotcha co-founder Joel Cooper's creation of a cutting edge and pioneering surf brand that had incredible success and great failure as the industry was inventing itself, Michael said.


I'll write more about the book this week - there are tons of interesting business lessons in it.


Today, I'll write about all the interesting things Michael had to say about the state of the industry, what he thinks are the next moves for some of the big companies, and a few business tips he has for young brands.


Though he never has to work again after selling Gotcha, Michael is still designing and is a consultant to several major players in the industry.


Volcom: "Volcom in the next five to 10 years has obvious steps: acquisitions, retail, internet, international."


Quiksilver: "Has one thing left. To get smaller. ... The best thing that ever happened to that company is Bob McKnight being back in charge."


Billabong: "They've made acquisitions, they've opened retail, they still have the internet to do."


Wall Street: "Size is the enemy of cool... The big (companies) have grown to a point - what else is there? Wall Street is all about expectations and perceived opportunity. It never works well to say ‘My strategy is to shrink.' With Wall Street, it's all about your story and right now they have to get real imaginative. They have to reinvent themselves and that's hard for big companies."


RVCA: "They have a clear position, a clear image. It's all in front of them. You've just got to execute, man."


The most important question for a brand: "What are you and how are you A). different and B). relevant. If you can answer those two questions, you have a shot."


Dealing with retailers
: "It's critical for brands to understand: Whatever you have, they've seen it. The retailer is thinking (as you're showing the line), ‘Hurry up, how much longer is this going take?' Instead of a huge line, pick a spot and make a difference. An unbelievable board short line will get you placed."

 

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