New Blood: SMP moves closer to surf-industry epicenter.

After SMP was sold by Ride Sports, Inc. to its Australian liscenee, questions about the brand floated around the industry. Was it giving up on the U.S. market? Who is Eugene King, president of SMP International, and new owner of the U.S. franchise? And why was the brand located way down by the Mexican border in Chula Vista, California?

Now, five months later, the answers are starting to flow. SMP will continue to cater to the surf, snow, skate, motocross, wakeboard, and BMX customer in specialty shops in the United States. Eugene King has been with the brand for eight years, and his Australian business has sales of twelve-million U.S. dollars a year.

In April, the brand announced that not only was it moving its offices to Santa Ana, California, it had hired two industry veterans–Brad Kingsley as national sales manager and Vipe Desai as marketing director–to help set a new course for the brand into the future.

“This brand has tremendous potential, and the current restructuring process is going to be an important step for positioning SMP in specialty stores across the United States,” says Kingsley.

Desai says his previous position at The Shop was a great opportunity, but he always knew he eventually wanted to grow a brand. “Both Kingsley and I are familiar with SMP and all the miscues it’s made in the past,” says Desai. “We definitely know which mistakes to avoid–which makes working with SMP incredibly exciting.”

Regarding the move, King says, “We wanted to be closer to the pulse of the market and also to have access for better resources in order to grow our brand.”

Kingsley also says the location will make it convenient for fabric suppliers to stop by the offices–an opportunity not available in Chula Vista. “Plus, we’ll be close to so many great shops–like Huntington Surf and Sport and Jack’s–that it will be really easy for me to stop by and see how things are selling. The shops can also stop by our offices for a walk through, which is incredibly important.”

–Sean O’Brien