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The People Involved

Stickers were probably the most ridiculous thing. Oakley probably was one of the ones that started it, but putting stickers—we had them on every car in the country. It was great.

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I was just a kid, kind of looking in magazines at that time. He was my hero. Why would he rep those shorts over his pants? I think everyone was probably pretty shocked about it. The brand was still really hot, but under-distributed. We had a big grand opening and [San Diego radio station] 91X there. Just thousands of people. We had skateboard ramps in the parking lot back in the early eighties. It was the strip center right off 2nd St. It was called the Harvest Ranch. The story gets even better. We always laugh. She used to wear these neon skirts. We both had really busy schedules, working probably 45 weekends out of the 52 weeks in the year.

In we had brand-new Hondas, all three of us.


We had Mitch [Payton] from Pro Circuit dial them all in for us, pipes and suspension. Just broken in, maybe ten hours on them. So we told Marty Moates. He was a friend and a teammate since the seventies. Greg Thiess was on there, too, but it was me, Jeff Surwall, and Marty early on. What can we sell? I remember tears in my eyes as I rolled that bike up the ramp onto the pickup truck. We got three of them in there. Back in those days, we would find someone in Japan that wanted to distribute the product, and it was sort of like they became our bank, because they would pre-pay the product and help us fund our business because they wanted American brands.

So we found whatever clever trick we could to keep it going, but in the end, the growth outpaced us. Then we had Bubble Gum Surf Wax in the building with us, and they were doing about eight or nine hundred.

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Then another brand called Mambo, which my brother ran. The sad thing about it is money shouldn't come between friends.

Sometimes it does. We were so undercapitalized, we ended up having to license the brand up just to stay alive.

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The perception of it was much bigger than the reality of it. I never saw any money from it. So I got some free shorts and I got free clothes. We did some ads. We had a lot of fun, and they bought me dinner most of the time. I think that people perceived a lot of our success as always being successful. It was brought up to me not too long ago. I think there was a lot of people and businesses that grow quickly or businesses that grow uniquely where there are interesting claims and IOUs to what really happened. First of all, Mark and Brian and I were only maybe five degrees off in our vector, in our path for the business, in our intentions for the business, our expectations.

I wanted to be over here and they were just over there. We would just go our separate ways if we had differences and just carry a grudge or whatever. So that built up to the point, because of our immaturity, it was kind of an insurmountable gap, and it really started to weigh on our relationship. The opportunity is bigger than you can serve. That comes later. We did a deal with Laurens a couple years prior because we outgrew our ability to fund the business. So we canceled the agreement that we wrote, and in the agreement, it says if you cancel it, you need to buy all the inventory and then pay all the outstanding debts.

He had a bulldog named Sweetpea, and I thought maybe Sweetpea got ran over or something. Everything was a handshake situation back then. Contracts were for people who wanted to see the world differently. It was loose. At some point, all in hindsight, that separation—Laurens wanted the brand and wanted to continue on.

I think Beaver was at a point where he was looking at how he wanted to engage going forward. Brain and I had our own ideas. So Laurens ends up with the brand. I think Beaver spent some time there with him. We actually went through a little legal battle. We were all about the brand. We were all about the sizzle. We were all about fun. We were all about just stepping out and being totally irreverent.

So we learned the hard way. My dad was going to get stung on that. So we had to give him the trademarks to pay off all the debts. And he did. He paid all the motocross magazines and surf magazines, all the debts. That was the deal. Sometimes success is more challenging than failure. They have to reach further out and raise capital and take money in a unique way.

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So that was probably more so the case with No Fear, but at the same time, undercapitalized businesses make up for the lack of capital in creativity sometimes. Eventually you have to read the stuff [contracts], whether you like it or not. So I had an attorney who was up in Orange County in Newport.

I went up and met him. This is over. There were a lot of assumptions being made. We still had a ton of respect for each other, and we still really liked each other, but we had insurmountable differences in business.

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The lawyer could tell I was upset, and he made a comment when I walked out the door. You can go do anything you want. I can do anything I want. I can do whatever I want. He kind of felt the same.


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