Contrary to rumor, Surf Ride isn’t the backer.
Budding wetsuit-maker World Force is now poised to take its operation to the next level. Thanks to a hefty chunk of venture capital, the Oceanside-based brand best known for its fluorescent green and orange wetsuits now has the resources to meet its growing demand and improve production quality, says brand founder Steve Moss.
So who’s backing World Force? Contrary to a rumor that spread like a brushfire, it’s not North San Diego County retailer Surf Ride, which has board shops in Solana Beach and Oceanside. “I can say on the record that Surf Ride and World Force are not associated,” says Moss. He did acknowledge, however, that Surf Ride was one of seven parties who offered to financially invest in the company.
[IMAGE 1]The 200-million-dollar venture-capital company that Moss eventually chose is comprised of a group of people who surf but whose roots are in banking and real estate. “They just want us to continue to do what we’ve always done and try to make the best wetsuits out there,” says Moss of his investors. “It’s kind of a radical thing to have somebody step up to you and say, ‘Look, all we want to give you is the money to be able to do what you want to do with it.’ It’s insane.”
Moss says the deal keeps him at the helm of World Force but also gives him the time he needs to do what he does best: design wetsuits. “The control of the company is in my hands as far as the decisions being made day to day,” says Moss. “Their role will be just checking in to make sure we’re on the right path to being profitable. I’m the designer, and I’ll stay the designer because that’s really my passion.”
World Force has been on the market for just four years, and Moss says the brand has seen significant growth every year. With the extra capital behind it, Moss says the brand will be able to expand distribution (World Force has 30 accounts peppered throughout Southern California), increase production, develop a consistent marketing campaign, and push the envelope of wetsuit technology.
A year and a half ago, World Force made its suits domestically. When he launched the company, Moss who used to provided wetsuit repair for a host of manufacturers, glued and stitched all the World Force wetsuits personally. Now World Force manufacturers its suits overseas at factories in Taiwan and Thailand. “We did some research and found an overseas manufacturer that could do the work, and actually do a better job because it has more access to our latest technology,” says Moss. “We’re super stoked on the manufacturing that we’re getting done.”
So how big will Moss grow the brand? “We want to go big, but we don’t want to be huge. We want to stay core.”