Rip Curl Names New Wetsuit Product Manager.

So Cal sales rep Stephen Koehne steps up.

Though they are big shoes to fill, Rip Curl has found someone to take Alistair “Zoc” Zorica’s place as wetsuit product manager: Stephen Koehne.

[IMAGE 1]Most recently, Koehne has been the Southern California sales rep for Rip Curl, quite a substantial territory. And while he’s still playing the role of both rep and product manager — he could only be reached on the road on the way to another shop — he’s quickly getting up to speed and moving forward with Rip Curl’s wetsuit line.

TransWorld SURF Business tracked down Koehne for a brief Q&A, in between two surf shops and a traffic light.

How long have you been with Rip Curl?
I started as a shop grommet teamrider in 1975 with Rip Curl, and then progressed on to doing Rip Curl retail in September 1990. Since 1994 I’ve been the So Cal sales rep.

So you’ve gone through all the ranks.
Yeah. I’ve done just about everything. I owned a surfboard factory in Australia that had a fashion retail shop established with it, set up and managed retail shops with people over there, and worked with Hobie doing the retail here in Southern California.

I’ve got a good wide spectrum of retailing. I’ve dealt with Rip Curl as a teamrider and also a retailer both here and in Australia. I know both sides very well. It’s given me a good overall appreciation of what the retailers need and also what they sometimes have to deal with.

How will you take advantage of your experience as both a shop manager and a rep as the new wetsuit product manager?
I have real good relationships with all the retailers in Southern California. Our goal is to learn more about the territories throughout the United States and work with the reps and retailers in those areas and improve and develop further product for those regions: hooded suits, booties for younger kids, some of the new advancements in the RD4 titanium material that we’ve incorporated in the past, and using the next generation of materials in suits that the retailers can really make some money with.