Under the SkunkWorks Spotlight!!
Position: Sales Manager
How many surf boards have you got in your quiver
7,6 MiniMal, 7’2” Fish, 6’2 Custom Shortie, an SUP and of course my 8ft skunkie!
Favourite wetsuit brand
Xcel (has to be a back zip though- hate a chest zip!!)
Favourite Surf Film
5 people you’d invite to a dinner party (Dead or Alive)
Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and Tom Hardy (for my wife!!)…That’d be a hell of a hangover!!
Anything by Lee Child or Roald Dahl
Top 5 Favourite Albums
Moby – play
Air – Moon Safari
Leftfield – Leftism
Ryan Adams – Gold
The Rolling Stones – Forty Licks
Sodwana Bay, South Africa.
Best Gig you’ve ever been to
The Answer at Mandela Hall
Please give us a quick intro Ash. What made you take the leap from a secure job to joining a start-up in the surf industry?!
I had been working in the licensed trade for almost ten years; I was managing a small team of people, had full responsibility for budgets, promotional and marketing strategies for NI and was gaining a lot of experience….on paper life was pretty good but I needed a new challenge. The opportunity to take voluntary redundancy came along and I took it with an open mind and bags of enthusiasm. That summer I fulfilled a lifetime ambition of becoming a surf instructor and spent the summer working for Alive Surf School right here in Portrush. I had a blast as a surf instructor but once the season was over I took a job with Red Bull as a Key Account Manager/Business Developer and whilst it was great to be working with global brands again I don’t think I could ever work in that sort of environment having experienced what it was like to work in an industry I truly had a passion for.
I had been following the progress of Chris and Ricky since the start and was keen to get involved as much as possible. When I was approached by Ricky to come and join the SkunkWorks team it was kind of a no brainer to me – yes, to many people it seemed like a bit of a gamble and to be honest at the time the prospect of leaving a secure job with a clear progression path was a little bit scary. I’m so glad to say that I have never looked back. To work in a company where like-minded people are all striving to make the product a success is truly refreshing. Every single person employed within SkunkWorks Surf Co are an absolute pleasure to work with. The ethos of the company and the overall vibe that Ricky and Chris have helped create is exactly the type of environment we should all strive to work in.
What are the main differences between this job and previous roles?
There is a lot less red tape!! Having always worked for global companies with global brands it was a bit of a culture shock to join a fledgling business where we were all learning together. Over the last 2 years we have adopted various processes and structures to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible without compromising our agility or capability to react to customer feedback. Generally though there is a pretty up-beat vibe within the company – there have obviously been various challenges along the way but the fact that we all feel an enormous sense of ownership means that we work through all of the problems together and help eachother out as much as possible. We all have a common interest (surfing) and the fact that we can all get into the water together after a hard day at work and unwind together in the surf is a very special experience.
What are you ambitions in life/work?
I have always wanted to own my own cocktail bar but I think heading up a successful Skunkworks sales department with Ricky would be a very close second!! Whilst I do have quite a few career ambitions I also really enjoy spending time with my family and as long as I get to spend plenty of time with my wife and 2 boys I’d like to think I’d be pretty happy whatever I’m doing!!
Tell us about your favourite surf break.
I’ve been lucky enough to surf a few famous spots but one of the best surfs I had was in Lorne, (Great Ocean Road, Australia) – we drove for what seemed like an eternity to get to Lorne but when we got there it was the most perfect little right I had ever surfed. Locally though I love surfing Bailies in Portstewart. It doesn’t really work that often but when it does it’s pretty hard to beat.
What do you want to get from surfing?
Pretty much exactly what I get from every surf I have had recently. For too long I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t progressing quick enough and wasn’t able to move on to a shorter board. Nowadays I tend to grab one of our 8ft foamies and go have some fun; I know I’m guaranteed to catch waves whatever the conditions and have great craic in the water – weirdly I have never surfed better since I stopped trying so hard!!
I also love how I feel after a surf, both spiritually and mentally–It’s hard for me to ignore the spiritual side of surfing – I almost find it meditative at times.
If you were give a blank cheque book for a holiday where would you go and who would you take?
First off I’d love to take Hannah and my boys on Safari in South Africa, We’d then head on to Australia to teach the boys to surf on the east coast. Finally, we would finish off with a relaxing trip to Bali where the boys can surf and me and Hannah can watch on the beach with a couple of Bintang!!