Every couple of weeks DoubleUP Wakeboards executive Tim Runyard will answer a couple of questions relating to the business side of the wakeboard industry in order to allow the wakeboarding public learn more about that side of the sport. Submit an industry question for Tim Runyard.
Question: How about a little business background on DoubleUP? How did it start and get going? Who or how many people own DoubleUP? Is Greg Nelson really an owner, or is he more of a figure head?
Well, this question takes on a little different meaning now, but Iíll address pre, and post merger.
DoubleUP was started in the summer of 96. Greg Nelson had established a relationship with Artie Krehbiel and Jerry Dugan from FLF, and they had talked about starting a Wakeboard company. Artie and Jerry had the Financial backer, and Greg had a vision for a new kind of Wakeboard company. Add to the mix, a guy named Robby Myer, and you had the beginnings of DoubleUP. By the fall, things actually started to come together, and myself and Patrick Bridgford were added to the mix, and Robby shortly thereafter, deleted from the mix. Three and a half years later, we merged with Hardline, and a year and a half after that, we merged with Wet Tech, which brings us to present day. Obviously I could go on forever on the details, but essentially, our first investor wanted to get DoubleUP started, and then find a home for us. It ended up taking a little longer than anyone had imagined.
The owners of DoubleUP started out as Jerry and Artie, Greg, and Robby owning a very, very small portion of the company. The reality is, that if youíre not shelling out the money for a company, youíre probably not going to own a whole lot. At least in the beginning. Austin owned almost 90%. So, while Greg was obviously a figure head, driving the product development and marketing direction of DoubleUP, he was also an owner, albeit a very minority owner. Currently, Tom Sexton, owner of Wet Tech, is the sole owner of DoubleUP. As most of you have heard, Tom purchased DoubleUP and merged us with Wet Tech down in Reno. We finally have a permanent home! As with many companies, DoubleUP now has incentive based equity ownership programs so the main employees can own part of DoubleUP, as the company grows.
Question: Does a rider like Collin Wright get to have input into his board design, and does his riding style enter into the design?Note: Collin Wright has recently just signed with Serum Wakeboards
Collin definitely had a ton of input into his board design. All the original ideas for his boards came from him, and then we tweak them a little here and there so it works from a manufacturing standpoint. The diamond tip came from him, and Collin also likes more rocker, than say Greg Nelson, so we tend to incorporate more rocker in his pro models. This years Collin design incorporates what he likes about the Greg Nelson shape, but he redesigned the tip and tail and accommodated some small molded in fins. Collin wanted his board to track really well, but be soft through the middle. Again, he added some extra rocker for added pop.
Again, all the original designs came from Collin. The one thing that I, along with the rest of the crew at DoubleUP does, is test the boards when they come out of the mold. Itís important to get a test from a variety of riders and skill levels. Collin can pretty much ride anything well, so heís a bad test. Us ďNon ProsĒ are the best test as to how the masses will react to a new board. If we like the prototype, we send it to Collin. If we donít, we normally make the correction and then re-cut the mold. Normally, itís something stupid that is only cosmetic. But, if itís something drastic, weíll go to Collin and get his input too.
Finally, Collin did incorporate his likes and dislikes into a board. But, with all of us testing the board, it ends up being a very well rounded final product. For instance, I have a friend who takes Collinís board and does Raleys, and Hoochie Glides. Collin obviously prefers to spin. The end result from our process is always a board that benefits everyone, whether you spin, flip, or just jump the wake.
Question: What qualities do you look for in your team riders besides riding skills?
This is an excellent question, as there are a ton of great riders out there. DoubleUP has always had a small, tightly knit team, and will continue that way going forward. The market place for a pro rider is tough right now. Wakeboard/Waterski companies are cutting back on expenditures, and tightening up for a very soft economy. There are fewer companies for pros to ride for, and these companies are not in a financial position to pay them a lot of money, like they were a few years ago. So, back to the question....we look for good people, who are willing to go out of their way to promote DoubleUP, as well as themselves. Riders looking for the ďHookupĒ or the easy money that sometimes comes with wakeboarding for a living are not going to last long at DoubleUP, if they ever get there at all. An obvious example of what we look for at DoubleUP, was Collin Wright. Heís a great person, has a retail background, and worked hard to promote himself and DoubleUP. He understands the pros and cons of working with a smaller company, and he understands the business end of things. He would definitely be one of the model riders out there. At a non-salary level, we look for people who believe in what DoubleUP is about. Josh Storrer is a perfect example. Josh is a great person, currently going to College in Southern Cal. He believes in DoubleUP, and represents us as best he can. He gets exposure when he can, and presents a great image of and for DoubleUP.
Those are two easy examples that come to mind, but there are many more. The important thing to know is that being a pro rider is a business. You have to show a company that you can help sell their product, and help them become successful. At that point, they can then help you become successful.