Constant change and the ability to be sel- disciplined is key.
As a rep for Starboard sups and surfboards I am the go-between for stores from Maryland to Maine that want to carry our products and the North American distributor.
Over the last 6 years I’ve had the chance to attend many great events and meet some of the nicest people with a common love of the water sports lifestyle. Many of whom I would consider friends regardless of the fact I only see them 3-4 times a year.
Come springtime each year I try to coordinate with dealers to be in attendance at events that will help boost sales and provide demo boards and information about our products. This requires driving to the event ahead of time and being one of the first people at the site to set up beach flags & tent, unload boards & paddles from the trailer, and have catalogs available to give out. Sometimes I do get to participate in the event. But I’m also the last one to leave as it takes a while to pack everything up.
Sharing the stoke with first time paddlers or turning an experienced paddler \ surfer on to something that helps there performance is one of the best perks of the job!
I also meet with the staff of area shops selling our boards and provide information with regards to technology, materials, and shapes that they can use when interacting with customers.
When August rolls around it’s time to switch gears to “trade show” and “selling mode”.
Traditionally the new product for the upcoming year debuts at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah. Shops from all around the country come to check out whats on offer at a demo day on the lake and 4 days in the Salt Lake City convention center.
Myself and other Starboard sales reps arrive a few days early to meet with company owners, board designers and sales manager to learn about the new boards we will be showing to the retailers. We get a chance to use them and discuss the selling points, innovations and the marketing so we can best convince the shop buyers to stock their store with our product!
We also get to set up and tear down the booths in some crazy heat, mud and mosquitoes ( so glamorous )
After this big show I hit the road and drive from Maryland to Maine to show dealers the new models and sales programs. This requires a lot of couch surfing,cheap hotels, resort town traffic and days away from home. It isn’t easy to convince a shop owner to stop what they are doing in the middle of August and think about committing money to order products they won’t see for 6-7 months!!
It’s kinda like legalized gambling for all involved.
Trying to guess what will be a hot item NEXT year and commit floor space and money to that, when they still have a few months of selling current product left.
Next comes Surf Expo in Orlando Florida,the first week of September. Purposely NOT near a beach!?!?! If it was, no one would get any work done, lol. The second biggest trade show for the surf & paddle shops. The set-up and tear down for this one is incredibly hot as the expo center only puts on the ac during the show. Basically its a great way to lose weight, sweating for 12 hours during set up and then again at the end during tear down. If I didn’t see a shop buyer at OR, I hope to see them at Surf Expo.
After this show it’s back on the road again to chase down anyone that didn’t attend either show.
I’m chasing down orders from my car, and at night, from a hotel room as the deadline to enter the orders is usually first week of October. Lots of phone calls while driving and late night order entries are the norm.
The plus side of traveling in September is the good chance of scoring some waves as I travel up & down the coast! Shop owners are happy to discuss business after a good session on a new board I lend them to try. So although I’m rarely home in September, it’s one of my favorite times of year. This can be tough on personal relationships and family.
From October on, it’s a lot of office work from home, which is a nice change of pace after 6 months of travel. Finalizing orders, contacting potential new dealers, developing marketing budgets and event planning is the focus this time of year. Early morning surfs and late day paddles at my home break begin and end the days.
Over the winter I’m sometimes asked to be involved with product development for both surf and sup. It is a great opportunity to exchange ideas with world class athletes, shapers and designers. Living in the northeast, that requires a thick wetsuit and a willingness to walk through the snow to get to the water.
Just when I think I can’t handle the cold anymore, spring rolls around and the excitement of a new season begins and I am amped to see friends share the stoke for yet another year!
Mark Colino is the northeast sales rep for Starboard surf & sup, head coach at Stand Strong Paddle Fitness in New Jersey and a longtime Mullet head.