The Boardroom Surfboard Show Lands At The US Open Of Surfing This July

The Boardroom, now a part of GLM’s Sports and Fashion group along with Surf Expo and LAUNCH LA, is expanding its reach on the West Coast this July. The Boardroom will officially hit the sand in Huntington Beach, California, during the newly re-branded Vans US Open Of Surfing, scheduled for July 20-28, 2013. The exciting news comes on the heels of The Boardroom’s announcement that it will co-locate with Surf Expo during its September 6-8 show and Surf Expo signing a new partnership with e-commerce experts Internet Retailer.

The Boardroom at the Vans US Open will be designed as a two-day industry-only trade show and a two-day consumer show that's open to the public, according to GLM SVP Roy Turner, who we had a chance to check in with us last week via phone. Turner says he views the show as a multi-purpose event with business getting done, and a chance to get the public excited about our industry as well.

We caught up with Turner, IMG Senior Vice President - Director of Action Sports James Leitz, as well as Group Brand Director Sean O'Brien and The Boardroom Founder Scott Bass, to find out the details behind the news, what it means for the future of the show, and what the West Coast expansion means for the show's long-term business strategy.

A look at last October’s Boardroom in Del Mar, California.


Photos: Chris Kimball

IMG Senior Vice President - Director of Action Sports James Leitz

What attracted you to the idea of having The Boardroom co-locate with the US Open?

Leitz: I like the idea of bringing the industry back to the beach. And what better way to be inclusive then having the Boardroom of the beach, in the backdrop of the US Open?  With upwards of 300 brands, the country's top surf and skate retailers, and business leaders from across all of action sports, this B2B component is sure to create a "market week" feel for the industry.

How do you anticipate the addition of The Boardroom and its exhibitors will change the complexion of the event?

Leitz: The Boardroom is a massive footprint.  It is going to be a visual destination by the sheer physicality of it. Combine that with displays, premiums, and promotions from the world's top surf brands, and the Boardroom is going to be one of the hot spots on the beach.

Has there been any overall change in focus or direction with the  Open this year?

Leitz: Inclusive and not exclusive is the mandate.  Bring back the industry.  Over the past few years, we have worked hard to bring the top surfers, skaters and musical talent back, and we have succeeded.  Now it's time to show how the US Open, in the epicenter of the Action Sports world, is a vital touchstone to help bring the industry together.

When did talks with IMG begin about partnering to bring the Boardroom show to the US Open?

Turner: We began working with IMG as they were looking for a new title sponsor for the US Open event, with Vans as the leading candidate for title sponsor. We were very happy to learn that Vans was using an open arms approach to bringing the entire surf community back to the beach during the US Open and that IMG agreed with that approach. Given that we have a long-term relationship with Vans from a trade event perspective, and through discussions, we found that our vision and that of IMG and Vans were all pointing in the same direction: bringing boards and brands back to the beach. The timing for all could not have been better.

Why did you feel like the timing was right to bring a show of this kind to Huntington Beach?

Turner: We have been careful students of the Southern California marketplace for a number of years and we've seen how market conditions have changed. We feel that the industry could benefit from an event where the soul of surfing is at the forefront. Shapers, surfers, and surfboards will be at the epicenter of the event. Without the surfboard there is no sport, no lifestyle, no look, no industry, no prize money--nothing.

Surfing is cool and we do not need to try to be anything else.

Our goal is to produce an event that brings the essence of surfing back not only from an industry/trade standpoint but community as well. We are producing two days of trade followed by two days of a public event in the heart of the surf community during the biggest event on the mainland, the Vans US Open Of Surfing. It just does not get any better or bigger than this.

Being in the business since the mid ’70s, I have a true passion for surfing and the industry that surrounds it. My career began as a surf retailer, then founder of the Board Retailers Association and now at GLM, where my responsibilities include Surf Expo, LAUNCH LA and The Boardroom events.

As a young retailer my retail partner Mark Allison and I went out on a limb, found a sponsor and brought the ASP tour to a small town on the East Coast for several years, through the Record Bar Pro events. It was an experience I will never forget. it changed a community’s perspective on surfing, launched many careers, influenced business and set in motion the idea that Surf was there to stay.

I personally cannot begin to explain the honor of being able to help create an event I am sure will have a similar effect but on a more global scale.

The timing is right, the Surf Industry needs a marketplace that reflects who and what we are, I cannot think of a better time or place.

Scott Bass and  Photo: Roche

Scott Bass and Korduroy TV’s Cyrus Sutton Photo: Kevin Roche

Will the Boardroom still take place at its original location in San Diego, or will this new show serve as its sole location now?

Scott Bass: All locations, venues, and regions are in discussion and we absolutely look forward to serving as many regions/locales as the market will bare. 

My surfboard show roots in San Diego are strong. I’m in the water everyday--in San Diego. San Diego is the foundational location, the genesis location, if you will,  of The Boardroom shows. A San Diego show will happen again. 

It’s also good to take a break from a locale. I produced five shows in a row, from 2007 to 2012, in San Diego. I’m also very proud of the fact that we have produced shows in Santa Cruz and Ventura.

Our track record indicates that we appreciate and understand that surfers are more or less regional. The opportunity to showcase surf gear and to highlight local shapers and manufacturers in different areas throughout North America--and the world for that matter--is in front of us.

The East Coast is wide open and we know that the East Coast surfer is looking to celebrate at The Boardroom. As you may know, The Boardroom is co-locating with Surf Expo in Orlando Florida this September. I visited out there last September and in January. Surfers are frothing for a consumer show. They are enthusiasts. They are passionate. This is who they are. This is who we are. They embrace everything surf--just as I do, just as my children do, just as my neighbor does. We are all surfers, therefore we love surfboards.

How will the format work?

Scott Bass: From a specific granular view, The Boardroom is two days trade, two days consumer. It’s important to note, however, that from a global perspective The Boardroom is a celebration of everything surf: industry, sport, culture, lifestyle.

All of that of course begins and ends with the surfboard. From that prism, The Boardroom is one big cultural happening and there is something for everyone. Retailers order product. Manufacturers discuss product. Surfers take in the latest innovations. The Boardroom is a multifaceted, five-dimensional surf magazine. Everything comes to life. Don’t just look, pick the gear up. Ride the boards. Test the wetsuit. Pull on the stretch boardies. Quiz the manufacturer. Talk to the pros. Order a board. Get an autograph. Watch fresh new clips. Smell the resin. Ride an alaia. Test a handplane. Compare fins. Watch the shaping. Discuss board design. Talk shop. It’s all there in front of you. Not just 3-d, 5-d.”

What has been the City’s reaction, and how do you see this relationship evolving in the future?

Turner: While IMG manages most of the relationships with the city, I can only say how impressed I am at the support for surfing and the US Open event that the city has shown. 

On a similar note, what is the long-term growth strategy for this deal, and the pending opportunities to partner with SIMA for Market Week?

Turner: Like many others in the industry, the concept of a market week has always been appealing and we are full supporters of the concept. I think that with our event, along with Vans and IMG’s vision for the US Open, we have a truly great foundation for building other events around what will be happening on the beach. It really is an exciting opportunity for the surf industry and as a long time supporter of SIMA and its members, we look forward to continuing to be a great partner in making Market Week a reality over the next several years.

Will it look and feel like previous Boardroom shows in San Diego?  

Let me be clear. It all centers around the alpha and the omega of our surf industry, our surf world, and our surf lifestyle: the surfboard. The look and feel will be the same. The surf manufacturer, the shaping culture, the vibe is centered squarely on the surfboard — our iconic symbol of enduring youth.

Think back. Way back. Way back before instant surf access or a professional world tour, or surfboard mounted cameras. The surf industry was built by surfers named Butte, Downing, Hobie, Velzy, Edwards, Bing, Hap, Noll, Takayama, Aipa, and many many others. Shapers. All of them. Surfboard manufacturers. Their ads filled the surf mags. They dressed a certain way and had their own style. They stood out. Mainstreamers would look at them and scoff. 

In 2013 their legacy — dozens and dozens of core manufacturers, shapers, surfers, surf industry designers  from around the world — will exhibit at The Boardroom. They will be exalted. They will be center stage. Our industry flows from its core — the surfboard.

Thankfully surf equipment has evolved and technology has blossomed. Now surf gear consists of skateboards, boardshorts, wetsuits, fins boxes, watches, leashes, waterproof cameras, rack systems, wax, rash guards, travel, clothing and swimwear made specifically by surfers and for surfing. Paipos are back! Only this time they have GoPro cameras mounted on them. Classic. The Kuhio Groin crew would be stoked!

I love surfboards. Surfers love surfboards. The Boardroom is an extension of that passion. Lots of surf gear, lots of surfers, lots of sincere stoke. At the end of the day surfers really only care about two things, waves and the equipment to ride them with.

Now, to be a little more specific, there will be a Best Of Show exhibit, two shaping bays, live shaping, laminating demonstrations, surfboard exhibits, an Icons of Foam shaping tribute. Legends of shaping. Legends of lifestyle. Short films. Genuine surf stoke and happiness. A few scoffs would be cool too.

What has been the reaction from retailers on a new West Coast Show?

Turner: Reaction from retailers have been very positive. We spend much of the time explaining the concept of combining a retail and trade event — not the need for an event. Having been at BRA, retailer needs are in the forefront, not only from a marketplace perspective, but how we can help retailers in and around the event area grow their business.

What are you hearing from brands about introducing a new show?

Turner: Trade shows are merely a reflection of the marketplace. Many of the manufacturers have reached out to us to let us know that the current market is not being served. On that same note, we understand that “the market” has grown outside of the traditional retail/supplier connection and that consumer brand marketing is as important. By offering our hybrid format we feel that we can give manufacturers the best of both worlds, all located beside the excitement of the US Open.

We have worked hard to put together a team that not only understands the surf industry, but is passionate about what they do.

We are honored to be given the opportunity and — like Vans and IMG — look forward to bringing boards, brands, surfers and family back to the beach at Huntington Beach for a few days of business, surfing, camaraderie and awe.

Follow the jump for Turner, Bass & O’Brien’s thoughts on Surf Expo’s deal with Boardroom, and its new trade show partner Internet Retailer.

Surf Expo's Roy Turner and Sean O'Brien

Surf Expo’s Roy Turner and Sean O’Brien

Editors’ Note: We sat down with Turner, Bass & O’Brien during the last round of Surf Expo in January to get their thoughts on Surf Expo’s deal with The Boardroom, as well as its new trade show partnership with Internet Retailer, both of which will be happening simultaneously at Surf Expo in September 2013.

Tell us more about the Internet Retailer partnership and why that made sense for Surf Expo at this time?

Turner: It got really exciting when we acquired Internet Retailer. It’s 100% about how business is done online. It’s awesome--it’s this closed loop show, and it’s everything from how to build a website, how to do logistics, how to handle drop shipping, to packaging tape and rollers. I got really excited being an ex-retailer in our business and being in the business where we deal with retailers, and going ‘this is how people do business now – what if we could bring that knowledge here?’

So it’ a perfect fit of not only how the business is being done on the floor from seasonal new product, but it’s that one next loop in how business is done, and we want to be a reflection of what the business is at Surf Expo. Not just being a reflection on the front end, now we have the ability to be a reflection on what happens post.

We are going to offer some educational tracks and it’s all top of the line speakers and industry experts because of the association with Internet Retailer. Not only do we want to do that, and we are also going to do an Intelligence Bar at the center of the show, so if you want to do a quick hit and come up, we’ll have internet marketing expert there, an SEO expert there, somebody from Google Analytics there. The idea would be, if you want to come up and ask a question real quick, they are there. Kind of like a “Smart Bar” concept.

It doesn’t just work for the retailers, it’s a value add for a company whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a surf start up company, we are all doing business that way and everyone has their marketing teams here. Rather than coming in and merchandising and sitting around, now even those guys will be able to take advantage because we are going to have two tracks. One if for someone who is just getting their feet wet. Maybe they have a website but now are thinking about ecommerce. Or maybe they’ve been attempting to do email marketing and now they realize they need to get serious about how list segmentation and acquisition works. We’ll have that novice track and an expert track. The expert track will be more hands on, more of case studies with real retailers from our group and industry experts we’ll assign to help them. We’re a tradeshow and I think this ties it all together.

O’Brien: This is all in addition to all the skate demos, SUP demos, events, and everything else we’ve been doing. We get that and we understand that piece of the lifestyle is important, but this is something in addition that’s really helpful.

Turner: We still support that whether it’s an open to buy or how to merchandise or color studies and surveys, but this is nuts and bolts about running your business. It’s something that can be concentrated, it’s not something you just put on your schedule at 1 p.m. in the afternoon. This is something that you bring a team member that’s responsible for it to the show.

O’Brien: Almost bigger than that, for someone who has been in the industry for a really long time and someone who really loves surfing, is the idea that for the first time in 37 years we are going to have a true consumer component to Surf Expo. It’s one of those things, where we just crested 10,100 likes on Facebook, which I’m proud of. It’s a small number compared to Converse and those guys, but it’s like most of those people are people around here who love surfing and really interested in it, but may not necessarily be retailers or manufacturers. We constantly get bombarded with ‘hey, how can I come?’ We field dozens of phone calls a day. So we think there is a real pent up demand for that.

We want to do something that’s credible and is a reflection of the market. With the addition of The Board Room and Scott Bass’ expertise we finally feel like we have something that is going to be a winning combination. Not only for the consumers out there that want to come to Surf Expo but also for the manufacturers that are here on the tradeshow floor, giving them an easy way to reach across and touch the passionate consumer base. There will be a gate and cost to get in, so automatically you get rid of the looky-loos, the people who aren’t as caring about the sports we love. It’s going to be a great audience on the show floor.

Take a stroll through the show floor at the last Surf Expo January 2013.

How will the show be set up?

Turner: If you can imagine the building, there’s a mirror of the building behind it. What we did with the Tony Hawk event is you go in through several open panels to create a passway and basically Surf Expo is the VIP section so retailers and manufacturers can come and go as they please. The public will be only allowed in the public area.

The latest greatest movie will be playing, whatever the number one surfboard from company x, y or z right then, glassing techniques, whether its epoxy, poly or some type of recycled materials, obviously the shape offs, which I think Scott has made famous in Southern California. They’ve never seen it here, and I think ironically the guy whose won three of them is from the East Coast.

This is the first time you have done shaping bays at Surf Expo, correct?

Turner: Yes. We just see expanding it as the right move because there’s such a heart and soul to it. It’s all business, but at the end of the day, you appreciate someone who can really sing and you appreciate a fine wine, and there’s something about the surfboard that’s no different than that. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the business and forget what the business really is. I’m just so excited to be able to bring it here. To watch the brands and the shapers and the business part to be able to play off the excitement of the consumers--it’s like a kid at his first concert. It’s not iTunes, it’s the real thing.

Bass: I’d like to reiterate the excitement that Roy and Sean have already expressed. If you look at the history of the surf industry, it started with hardwoods. It was Hobie and Velzy and Bing and Jacobs. If you look at the early surf magazines, they’re filled with advertisements. As the decades moved on, the industry grew and prospered and it’s incredible. But at the core of the Board Room is the hardwoods- is the surfboard- because as Roy mentioned you can’t be a surf industry without surfboards.

We are just excited to be able to showcase the shapers, the laminators, the airbrushers – all of the good folks, the craftsman that make what it is that we love. Truly surfboards are really a symbol of enduring youth. When I put one under my arm I feel like the twelve year old that I was when I first put one under my arm. When I put that purple wax on the deck and the coconut fumes comes up I’m close to nirvana. And that’s what The Board Room is all about, is trying to capture that special feeling. We [surfers] are a passionate enthusiast group. That tool that helps us to dance upon the waves, it’s like any enthusiast group – if you’re a golfer, if you’re a surfer, if you’re a snowboarder – that tool is really important and it transcends us being a widget. It’s got emotional connections to us. It’s about the surfboard, the people who make them, and it’s about the surfer. There isn’t one surfer on the floor at Surf Expo who isn’t super stoked on surfboards, and that’s really the Board Room.

Turner: I think everyone gets so caught up in the business of it, and I will be the first person to never apologize for making a living doing what I do. But every now and then you need to recharge, you need to refuel. Every now and then you need to service what’s at the core. Whether you are the young guy that gets his first complement on ‘hey man that’s a really cool surfboard.’ Or maybe it’s the guy who’s mowed so many blanks that he might be a little jaded and it’s become a job. To have someone come up and complement you, there’s an excitement. Let’s take that same attitude and let the brands who are inside this building to get those same compliments and the whole industry feels better. It’s like getting a nice dress or a new suit. It’s our job as a tradeshow not only to reflect the industry, but to be that person. Because when everyone is in the same room, and we can elevate everybody for one, two, three days out of every six months, then we’ve done our job. Then take that excitement, go do your job, come back in six months and let’s put a little more gas in your tank and get you guys pumped up. That’s how we elevate to the next level.

O’Brien: It’s exciting for us as well. It’s something that’s very easy to work on because we have a real passion for it.

So the brands will have a booth at the consumer show and inside of Surf Expo?

Turner: They won’t be building massive booths, and it won’t be a massive cost for them ,it’s an added benefit. I don’t think the brands will be over there with their latest line list and rolling racks. It would be like every ad in your magazine coming to life in 3D, the latest Hurley boardshort coming to life in 3D. Not big booths with giant walls – that’s for doing business – but for the consumer to walk through and say ‘I’ve gotta have those,’ and then go down the street to our friends at Catalyst and buy a skateboard or surfboard, or they go to Ron Jon’s and pick up a pair of Sanuks, or they go to Quiet Flight and they buy the latest sunglass from Oakley. That’s the way we want them to get excited because that’s a part of that loop. It’s more of a branding piece for the companies. We are not looking to take every marketing dollar, we just want to make it come alive and give them the opportunity.

O’Brien: It’s just like a magazine though, there will be opportunities to get the back cover, there will be opportunities to get the center spread, if you want to reach that consumer in a big way, there will be that opportunity.

Bass: Just as your magazine is a cultural event every month, that’s what the Board Room is. It’s the surfing intelligencia gathering and celebrating. It’s much more than a consumer show it’s a passion pit.

Turner: To see guys who have a job 9-5 during the week and probably travel 100,000 miles throughout the year. The marketing guys out there that have the energy and create those pages for the brands, to watch those guys watch in with their kid on a saturday. I guarantee you the guys who work at Dell, maybe the guys that work at Apple, but I guarantee the guy who is the tax accountant, they don’t take their kid to the office on Saturday and go ‘Let’s look at numbers.’ We are one of the few industries that does that. Jeff Booth walks in with his kid and he’s excited, and it’s a way of passing that ritual to the next group or that opportunity that I don’t think we give them. The surf shop on the most fundamental level is the greatest thing in the world. It’s that connection between the community, the industry, and the ocean in front of their stores. We kind of just put it out there and hope that it works. So if this gets it one step closer its so cool. I didn’t work at The Board Room, I hung out with my friends. It’s that whole passion play to get to talk to people who want to talk about something really new. If you get a bunch of really smart people in a room that’s what creates that next possibility.

Do you have an estimated size of the show in Orlando?

Bass: Probably 150 booths and I would guestimate 10 to 15,000 consumers walking through the gate, easily.

O’Brien: It’s significant, it’s a really different part of the Surf Expo puzzle.

Bass: It’s much more than booths. To me, as you know, it’s the shaping bays, the glassing seminars, it’s the art we have on display. We have movies, short films, sometimes we have surfboard appraisals. Probably the thing that I’m most excited about is the Best of Show. We have all the board builders build for one of the categories, and just like a car show, there’s an opportunity to really showcase what they are most proud of. From a consumer standpoint that’s a lot of fun. There’s also an opportunity for you and me to meet the people who are building our “cars” – which is pretty rare. It’s unique that you get to engage with the manufacturer which is tough to do in any other industry.

 Follow the jump for the official release on the Boardroom teaming up with the US Open of Surfing…

Official Press Release:

THE BOARDROOM CO-LOCATES WITH THE US OPEN OF SURFING IN HUNTINGTON BEACH
New trade/consumer event offers surf industry unprecedented opportunities.

(San Clemente, California) The Boardroom is excited to announce that it will co-locate with the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California on July 23 - 27.

A celebration of surfing, surfboards and the shapers who make them, The Boardroom will be held within the Vans US Open of Surfing in a 50,000 square foot freestanding pavilion that will be floored, carpeted, and fully climate controlled. It will feature shaping competitions, seminars, entertainment, autograph signings and hundreds of booths filled with surfboards, legendary and contemporary shapers, surf apparel and accessory companies.

The Boardroom will be a hybrid trade/consumer event with two days exclusively dedicated to retail buyers and media as well as two days also open to the general public.

“I’m psyched to produce The Boardroom in Huntington Beach at the historic H.B. Pier,” says The Boardroom Founder and Director Scott Bass. “From the early days of George Freeth to the U.S. Championships to the Katin Pro-Am to the Curren v. Occy showdown to the massive southerly groundswells coinciding with H.B.’s own Brett Simpson's back-to-back victories, epic boards and epic waves have been and will continue to be ridden at this culturally significant landmark.”

Vans and event owner/operator IMG Worldwide (IMG) have announced a three-year partnership encompassing Vans’ title sponsorship of the US Open of Surfing. Re-igniting the future of surfing’s most prestigious contest, Vans and IMG aim to engage the surf industry back to its roots, advocating an all-inclusive, world-class surfing competition and cultural festival.

“This will be an event unlike any our industry has seen,” says GLM SVP Roy Turner. “Nearly one-million people visit the US Open over its nine-day run, giving exhibitors at The Boardroom unprecedented reach to not only top retail buyers and media, but to tens of thousands of passionate surf fans.”

According to IMG SVP James Leitz, "I like the idea of bringing the industry back to the beach. And what better way to be inclusive than having The Boardroom on the beach, in the backdrop of the US Open. With upwards of 300 brands, the country's top surf and skate retailers, and business leaders from across all of action sports, this B2B component is sure to create a 'market week' feel for the industry."

Leitz says the addition of The Boardroom is bound to enhance the entire US Open. "The Boardroom is a massive footprint," he says. "It is going to be a visual destination by the shear physicality of it. Combine that with displays, premiums and promotions from the world's top surf brands and The Boardroom is going to be one of the hot spots on the beach."

According to Doug Palladini, Vans Vice President of Marketing, “We are really looking forward to bringing the entire surf and skate industry back to the US Open of Surfing, leading by working with all of our peers, and inspiring a whole new generation of action sports fans. Beyond that, the B2B opportunities provide even more reasons for every skate and surf brand, athlete, and retailer on the planet to be in HB from July 20-28.”

As always the Boardroom will center on the surfboard manufacturer, the shaping culture, and our iconic symbol of enduring youth: the surfboard. “The surfboard will forever be the alpha and the omega of the surf industry, the surf world, and the surf lifestyle,” says Bass, “because deep down surfers really only care about two things, waves and the equipment to ride them with.”

For more information and announcements, stay tuned to boardroomshow.com. For information on exhibiting at The Boardroom at the US Open, contact Scott Bass at sbass@boardroomshow.com or Nikki Houston at nhouston@boardroomshow.com