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Two top executives depart from Von Zipper

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  • Vince De La Pena at Surf Expo in 2012

Two top Von Zipper executives have resigned and left the company.

Von Zipper Vice President Vince De La Pena told me he is exploring some other opportunities within the industry. He did not provide specifics.

Rob Riese, a Von Zipper founder and the Director of Design and Merchandising, said he is leaving to pursue a personal project outside the industry.

Rob Riese Shop-eat-surf file photo

Von Zipper is coming off its best year ever in terms of sales and profitability, and was cited as a top performer during Billabong's earnings conference call this week.


Von Zipper, though it runs largely independently, is owned by Billabong, which has been through more than a year of financial struggles, takeover uncertainty, and negative headlines.

Currently, Billabong is finalizing formal paperwork for the Altamont Capital Partners refinancing plan, while at the same time considering a rival offer from Centerbridge and Oaktree.

CEO-in-waiting Scott Olivet should take the helm once the final Altamont deal closes, which is due to happen in a few weeks. His appointment will be made by the board of directors and does not need shareholder approval.

I hear that Billabong employees who have met with Olivet are impressed and anxious to have him officially in place as CEO. Currently, he is working as a consultant.

While every case is unique, some departures have come as some employees have been evaluating “Plan Bs” and other opportunities while the uncertainty surrounding the company has dragged on for months.


Outside companies also know about the talented staff at Billabong and Billabong-owned brands, and that the unstable environment there means it is a prime place to recruit new talent.

While the situation has been very unstable, Billabong noted in its recent earnings conference call that its short-term liquidity is much more secure due to the US$294 million bridge loan from Altamont.

What’s currently being finalized is the long-term refinancing plan from Altamont, while Centerbridge and Oaktree push a rival refinancing bid at the same time. 

See Page 2 for the emails that Rob and Vince of Von Zipper sent to employees and vendors about their departures


Rob Riese:

Friends, Colleagues,

I have given my notice that Friday, August 23 will be my last official day of work at VonZipper.

It all started in a side warehouse in San Clemente with a broken down limo parked out back.  We drove that limo on a road to nowhere, picking up friends along the way. 13+ years later, I feel privileged to have shared the ride with such great people.  The Brand is great, but the founders, staff, reps and customers are what has made the journey so special.

My contact info is:


All the Best,


Vince De La Pena:


I have given my notice that Tuesday, August 27 will be my last day at VonZipper.

It was my pleasure to have spent the last four years with such a great team of people. I will forever be grateful for the friendships I made and the leadership and counsel I received during my time at both VonZipper and Element. I've been challenged and inspired on a daily basis, making the last four years some of the most memorable times in my life.

I sincerely wish you all the best,

Vince De La Pena


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