GrindMedia SVP Norb Garrett On Decision To Stop Printing TransWorld Surf

GrindMedia SVP Norb Garrett On Decision To Stop Printing TransWorld Surf

Take a trip back through TransWorld Surf‘s history with the covers since day one: 

GrindMedia announced today it will stop producing print issues of TransWorld Surf following the magazine’s September book. The news follows GrindMedia’s acquisition of TransWorld’s titles (including TransWorld Business) in late May.

While the print issues will cease, will carry on with Justin Cote and Zander Morton at the helm.

“TW Surf has served the surf community well since its launch in 1999 and has been integral to the growth of popularity of surfing globally,” SVP/Group Publisher Norb Garrett stated. “The current staff is putting out a terrific product, which makes the decision even more difficult. I personally want to thank all of the TW Surf team for their efforts and contributions.”

We caught up with Garrett to learn more about the decision:

When you were going through the process of examining the titles over the last month, what made it apparent that it wasn't tenable to run three surf titles at this point?

The first question everybody in the industry asked us was "can you do three surf mags?" That was a question we needed to answer first before we did anything else. While we could have on day one just closed TW Surf, which would have made a lot of sense to a lot of people, I really felt that we owed the brand and the market an opportunity for us to understand more about how the brand fit into the space. That was information we couldn't get until after we had the brand and could have the conversations with advertisers, people in the industry, and even people outside the industry. Over the last month we spent a lot of time asking that question and the answer we came up with was no.

While you were going through that due diligence, what did you personally learn about perceptions of the surf market, perceptions in the industry, and the robustness of surfing at this point?

The surf industry, as we all know, is going through change. Some of the biggest brands and businesses are recalibrating to fit today's market. The surf industry is a fantastic industry. It is for the most part robust and exciting and forward leaning and continues to see particpation growth and interest outside of the endemic community. Surfing is featured in tons of advertising and hopefully the efforts of the new ASP will help the sport grow even larger. Our decision to close one of three print magazines shouldn't be seen as a reflection of a hurting industry, it's more a reflection of us recognizing that it's the best way for us to move forward as a business.

When you were looking at this decision, did the idea of closing Surfing come up at all or was it always if you were going to do two, TW Surf was on the chopping block?

Whenever you're evaluating businesses, you look at all of them before making a decision on what horse you're going to bet on. In this case, every brand was analyzed equally and we came to the conclusion that TransWorld Surf was the title that would not move forward.

In that case, what makes tenable going forward and how do you envision that model down the road?

The dot-com costs a lot less to support and has a huge audience that supports it. We'll see if that audience continues to support it without the print title. We may find that the print piece was an incredibly valuable marketing component for allowing that site to be valuable, but you don't know until you know.

Will the current Surfer and Surfing sales team be selling against that?

Yes, the entire surf team will sell collectively against all surf properties and all of the GrindMedia brands. All of our sales guys now, with the exception of the businesses where we have newly minted competitors in the building, snow and skate, all sell across the portfolio.

When this story went out a bunch of tweets were popping up with the gist of "and thus it begins..." Do you see this as an indication of where things are going for other TransWorld titles?

That's absolutely ludicrous. This is simply a case of a very crowded market - we knew it at acquisition and so did the industry. The first thing anybody asked was "can you really make it work with three surf brands?" The answer was "we want to see if we can." The answer a month later is that we don't believe that it's in the best interest of our business to try and do that. It is in no way shape or form indicative of any other change. TransWorld Skate's the leader in the space. TransWorld Moto's the leader in the space, TransWorld Snow's the largest circulated mag in the space, we didn't have a BMX title until now, and we didn't have a Biz title until now. You look at the portfolio and the TransWorld properties are critically important or we wouldn't have acquired them.

Are members of the Surf team being offered opportunities with Grind?

There's a handful of individuals who have been offered opportunities within the company moving forward including the online team who will support the site and then a handful of others who will not have an immediate opportunity.

Here’s the official statement from GrindMedia.

GrindMedia LLC, the world's largest action/adventure sports media company, today announced the closure of TransWorld Surf in print effective the September 2013 issue. GrindMedia also publishes Surfer and Surfing magazines and in May acquired TransWorld Surf as part of a six-brand acquisition from Bonnier Corp. GrindMedia is a division of Source Interlink Media.

"Following an exhaustive review, we've concluded that producing three monthly print surf titles is not feasible for GrindMedia and we will no longer produce TransWorld Surf as a print property while the Web site will remain live," said Norb Garrett, Senior Vice President/Group Publisher of GrindMedia. "We will instead focus on growing our Surfer, Surfing and SUP (Stand Up Paddler), expanding the Beached Days brand and developing our women's/juniors brands with Salted and the Surfing Swimsuit issue."

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