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Industry Profile: Litewave Dave Turner
Company: Litewave Designs
Job Title: Owner/Designer
Years in Industry: 13
Words of Wisdom: Maintain humility and a good attitude towards your fellow humans.
Years Kiteboarding: 13
Kite: GK Trix
Board: Litewave Spirit, Wing, or Quad-Surf depending on the conditions
How would you describe your job at Litewave Designs?
I’m the Designer, Manufacturing Supervisor, Chief Sales Rep, and Collections Manager.
What did you do before working in the kite industry?
I was a Unix Systems Administrator for the telephone company. I got my degree in computer science and worked in telephony for ten years.
How did you end up working in the kiteboarding industry?
I was a windsurfer building my own boards and I went to Maui so I could learn to build better windsurfers. Jimmy Lewis and some other guys were showing me boards when I saw Manu Bertin kiteboarding. This was in 1998 and I started kiting shortly after. I just wanted to try something new. I was into whitewater kayaking in 1970, so I’ve always been at the forefront of sports. I adopted kiting and never looked back.
It seems that you are on a never ending Litewave demo tour of the U.S. Are there any local U.S. spots that you haven’t been to yet?
It’s not only the U.S., it’s worldwide. I find that it’s the best way to find out what people want and put the gear in their hands. The two spots I haven’t been yet are Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, and the Chicago area. I’m usually on the road for a week and then spend two weeks at home.
What is your typical day at the office like? Is there such a thing as a normal day?
When I’m not touring, I’m back in the office taking care of everything else. I wake up at midnight to talk to China and Mauritius. After a few hours of sleep I get up in the morning and start answering emails, packing orders, and dealing with any special problems that might arise. I’m on the phone a lot of the day, and then at 4:30 I’m loading up the truck and heading for FedEx. At about 6:00 it’s happy hour.
Is working in the kiteboarding industry all it’s cracked up to be?
When I’m on tour hitting the bars, dancing at the clubs, and kiting during the day, that’s the glamorous part, and that’s maybe 20% of the job, so you do have some fun. But, you have to deal with the public, which can be really fun, but you also have to deal with problems.
What is the best part of your job? The worst?
The best is getting out there and meeting people. Going to La Ventana or to expos and hearing about how people like my boards, or that they learned to ride on one is really satisfying. The worst part is collections. When shops go belly up and owe you money, that’s the hardest part. It’s no fun, but when it’s your own money on the line, you’re motivated.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to the kiteboarding industry as a whole?
There’s like 60 companies now making gear. It’s really changed. I was the fourth kiteboarding company. Now everybody is undercutting each other, and that’s what happened in windsurfing. I see it as being very hard on the retailer in the future. It seems to be going more factory direct to the customer, which is not very healthy. I wish people would hold their lines, but there is always someone new coming in that has to get their foot in the door.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to work in the kite industry?
Well, you’re not going to get rich. They say the best way to make a small fortune in the kite industry is to start with a large one. It’s a fun job. You’ve got to be very good with people. I don’t have any room in my organization for a snob.