Volcom To Hit NASDAQ

Last week, the Costa Mesa-based surfwear company, Volcom, announced plans to go public, joining the ranks of Quiksilver and Billabong as publicly traded US surfwear companies. "Going public" is when a company begins selling shares of its stock to the general public. Companies typically go public in order to accumulate capital toward expanding their business. Regarding expansion, in 2004, Volcom's sales rocketed to $113.2 million, up 48% from the previous year, and showing a $24.6 million profit, which was 72% higher than 2003. While this falls considerably short of Quik and Bong's annual revenues, it certainly announces that this rebellious little surf company is playing in the big leagues.

Founded in 1991 by former Quiksilver employee Richard Woolcott along with co-founder Tucker Hall, Volcom has consistently marketed itself with an in-your-face anti-establishment image. Brandishing such anarchical campaigns such as "Volcom's Nuts" advertisements, movies like "Magnaplasm" and "Football Shmootball", as well as their sponsorship of notoriously "anti" surfers like Australian rebel Ozzie Wright and Cali do-it-yourselfer Gavin Beschen. Alongside a star-studded pro-team including Dean Morrison, Alex Gray, Tyler Smith and Dustin Cuizon, the golden child of Volcom's surf team is without a doubt, Bruce Irons, the freesurfing wonderkid who's "I did it my way" career-arc eerily parallels Volcom's success.

With this sudden leap into the open-market mainstream, Volcom hopes to simultaneously expand and tighten its overseas market, which already includes licensing agreements in Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Indonesia. But achieving control internationally is expensive. Their heightened influence will help increase sales, but the addition of distributors and employees will take time and money. Hence, in all likelihood, the decision to go public.

So what does Volcom going public mean for surfing? Well, for one thing it means we'll probably be seeing even more of that famous Volcom stone in the near future, which considering their radical team riders and gonzo shenanigans can't be a bad thing for the sport. But on a larger scale, what it really seems to indicate that the industry is healthier than ever. It took companies like Quik and Billabong nearly 30 years to reach the size where going public was the best option for controlling their ballooning industry base. And now here's this little mom and pop (or more like your cool uncle and stylie aunt), going massive after a little over a decade. Ah, they grow up so fast these days.

A bit of background on Volcom
(As taken from Volcom.com)

During the march dumps of 1991, Richard Woolcott and Tucker Hall set off on a snowboard trip that would forever change their lives. Tucker had just been laid off of work and jumped in the car on a routine {{{Tahoe}}} trip to visit Nathan Fletcher and Mark Gabriel. After riding four days of fresh, Richard called work with the excuse that they were snowed in and extended his stay. For more than a week, they awoke every morning with two new feet of snow. It was their first real experience riding powder and the new obsession wouldn’t stop.

Two weeks later Richard quit his job to take some time off and snowboard. He and Tucker had also talked of starting a clothing company during the Tahoe trip but nothing was really final. Later that spring, the two came up with the idea of starting a riding company based around the three sports they enjoyed. With ${{{5000}}} from Richard’s dad, they started the process. First the name and then the stone . Volcom was born.

The Volcom idea would incorporate a major philosophy of the times, “youth against establishment”. This energy was an enlightened state to support young creative thinking. Volcom was a family of people not willing to accept the suppression of the established ways. This was a time when snowboarding and skateboarding was looked down on. The U.S. was in a recession, there were riots in LA and the Gulf War. Change was in the air. Nirvana and Pearl Jam expressed it the best.

For the first two years, Richard and Tucker traveled around the world on wild journeys with friends riding whatever they could. The business side of things was minimal. The headquarters were set up in Newport in Richard’s bedroom and all sales were run out of tucker’s bedroom in Huntington. The two knew nothing about how to make clothes but that didn’t matter. It was all about spirit and creativity. Clothing sales for the first year were $2600.

Since those wild beginnings, the Volcom Stone has spread slowly across the world. The Company has matured internally but continues to run off the same philosophy it started with. The Volcom thinking now flows through its art, music, films, athletes and clothing….