After announcing in February that it had partnered with the US Open of Surfing to bring an innovative new tradeshow model to one the world’s most well-known surfing event, The Boardroom has been gaining momentum among retailers and brands who are looking forward to getting some time in on the sand, with both buyers and the end-consumer.
With major brands like Quiksilver, Vans, Reef, Roxy, Rusty, O’Neill, and Rip Curl all on board, the show is growing its exhibitor list daily and building its retail attendee roster as well with lots of positive feedback over the past few months, according to Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner and The Boardroom Founder Scott Bass.
“Words cannot express how stoked we are that The Boardroom is launching at the US Open. What a better venue to have this at than the US Open — and right on the beach in Huntington,” says Surfside Sports Owner Duke Edukas. “Why didn't someone think of this before? We all owe a debt of gratitude to Roy Turner and The Boardroom Family!”
We checked in with Turner, Bass, and Surf Expo Group Brand Director Sean O’Brien to get the latest update.
How many exhibitors are you expecting?
Sean O'Brien: We have room for more than 300 core, passionate surfboard shapers, designers, manufacturers, CAD experts, laminators, sanders, artists plus surf apparel manufacturers, wetsuits brands, fin companies, distributors and other surf-related companies. Of course, the focus is and will remain on the shapers, the craft of board building, and the true foundation of our industry: the surfboard. We're not a hip hop, lowrider, streetwear show. If you use the word "surfer" as some interchangeable part of your "lifestyle brand matrix strategy," we're probably not right for you. That's ok. We would never dictate where a brand should do business, but neither will we be apologetic in our focus. The Boardroom is staffed by a team of people fully committed to surfing and the surf lifestyle, who rightly believe that surfing should be celebrated – exalted even – and should never be asked to lurk around the periphery or take a back seat. We want to correctly and respectfully reflect what the surf market is and was and where it should be heading, understanding the responsibility that entails.
This focus will be supported by a whole cast of folks who understand the ins and outs of putting on a show, and what the market needs. A dedicated VIP buyer program targeted toward national A-list retailers (with particular emphasis on Hawaii, Central and Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest) also supports The Boardroom. This will be in addition to our outreach and select partnership with retailers throughout Southern California. We understand media participation is a key component of The Boardroom and the show offers exhibitors easy access to our dedicated public relations outreach to important non-endemic and endemic media outlets. Finally, The Boardroom fully supports the Vans/IMG initiative to bring families back to the US Open contest. So of course we'll focus on the heart and soul of the surf market and not other distractions.
Here’s a brief look at what to expect from the show put together by The Boardroom:
Who is, ahem, on board at this point?
Scott Bass: Lost, Firewire, Bruce Jones, Pyzel, US Blanks, Arctic Foam, Roberts, HydroFlex, Cooperfish, Andreini, Fineline, FCS, Fin S, Hayden Shapes, Bing, Futures, Sport of Kings, XTR, JHP, Vans, Quiksilver, Roxy, Fox, Reef, Rusty, O'Neill, Rip Curl, Ocean Minded, Freestyle, Lifeproof, Earthpack. Quite a few other shapers, surfboard-supply companies and apparel brands have verbally committed as well—this list is expanding daily.
What are you most excited about going into the show?
Roy Turner: I am super excited about not only the show we are producing but cannot wait to show everyone the environment we are going to create — think 50,000 square feet (bigger than a football filed), 30 foot ceilings, floored, carpeted and air-conditioned — all on the beach. Did I mention the best shapers and surfboards surrounded by brands showing the world the latest in surf design, fashion and technology, all of this with the premier US surf contest running in the background. It's all about stoke!
Scott Bass: Honoring the most angelic, kind, and peaceful man to ever flip the switch on a Skil 100; someone who shaped 10 boards a day and surfed during lunch: Iconic So Cal shaping legend Terry Martin. Humbled.
What if anything has changed with The Boardroom as you’ve gotten deeper into the planning?
Roy Turner: What we have found that the concept, need, and anticipation of a surf-focused event in California is even stronger than we thought when we approached the project. The response has made that clear. The deeper we get, the more questions are focused on event logistics which our operations team, in conjunction with IMG and the City of Huntington Beach, have been handling. Questions concerning attendee parking during the trade event to the logistics of systematic scheduled product/exhibitor move-ins have been addressed. We are now working with our designers and various brand marketing managers as to how to best activate space for the public days that the Boardroom has built its reputation on. End of day we are focused on producing a serious trade event for the surf industry, showing the public and press what a great industry we represent and creating excitement that will directly benefit local surf shops.
What role do you see this playing in the overall trade show landscape?
Scott Bass: The role is problem solver. The surf industry has demanded a mixture of trade, consumer, media — a celebration of our real industry with an authentic, sincere, passionate vibe — all on the beach in the mecca of surf, HB, produced by industry veterans with decades of time in the water and in specialty retail aisle. There is salt water dripping out of our noses and we love it, we are proud of it. We might bottle it and sell it. Smell the resin.