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Job Title: US Manager
Years in Industry: 10
Words of Wisdom: Follow your passion and everything else will fall into place.
Years Kiteboarding: 13
Kite: Flexifoil Ions
Board: Stretch Trow Directional
How would you describe your job at Flexifoil?
I do a bit of everything. Basically I manage the US distribution, shipping, sales, marketing, and team riders.
Flexifoil was recently reorganized. Can you give us the short story about what happened?
There was a change of management at the main office in the UK. The owner of Flexifoil, Anthony Van Dort, is now directly running and managing the company. The reorganization took some time to be completed but now the company is moving forward and setting up for a very strong future. It was a very positive move for Flexifoil.
What did you do before working in the kite industry?
I was in film production. I worked on a lot of action sports films, made my own films, and did commercial work.
How did you end up working in the kiteboarding industry?
At the beginning of the sport I became completely absorbed in kiteboarding. I had the opportunity to be a team rider for Flexifoil and to work closely with the international team and designers. Everything just sort of evolved from there. Flexifoil needed someone in the US to help with sales, marketing, etc., so I eventually took on a more permanent position with the brand.
What is your typical day at the office like? Is there such a thing?
Office? I start my day on the computer, check on orders, see what needs to be shipped out, and reply to emails. Then after lunch I usually head to the beach (my real office) with a van full of gear. My most productive work gets done at the beach, helping customers, getting feedback, and promoting and representing the brand.
Is working in the kiteboarding industry all it’s cracked up to be?
Sure, it’s a great industry to be involved with. You get to spend a lot of time outdoors with great people who share your interests. It’s a unique job and definitely not your normal nine to five.
How has the industry changed since you first got involved?
It has changed a lot. In the early days there were only a few brands and the sport was taking off fast. There was plenty of business for everyone and it was a low-tech situation. Two stings and a big kite was all you needed. Beginners and advanced kiters expected to get their butts kicked every time they put up a kite; that’s just how it was. Today there is a lot more competition among the brands and the products are much more technical. No one wants to get their butt kicked anymore so the kites have to be very user friendly, easy, and safe.
What gear were you on when you started kiting?
I started on a Flexifoil Blade. Two strings and 0% depower with absolutely no possibility of relaunch.
What is the best part of your job? The worst?
The best part is being able to help people enjoy kiteboarding. Being able to provide kiteboarders with good products, advice, and service that they really appreciate is extremely rewarding. The hard part is not being able to satisfy everyone. It’s a pretty competitive industry and customers come and go. Being available and helpful to everyone no matter what brand they use keeps it enjoyable all around.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to the kiteboarding industry?
The sport has grown so rapidly that if it does begin to slow it may cause some challenges for the industry. If it does slow, the brands will need to avoid the tendency to cut their margins in order to keep customers and stay in the game. It will end up putting a lot of brands out of business. This has happened in the past with other rapid-growth sports so hopefully we can avoid it. If we can continue to get the youth involved in kiteboarding, then the momentum of the sport will continue with no issues.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to work in the industry?
If it’s something that you really want to do then you should definitely make it happen. It’s a great industry to be involved with. However, don’t be surprised if working in kiteboarding changes how you feel about the sport. It’s a positive change although it’s definitely a different vibe.