Marcelo Bengoechea talks about the 'shaping collective' concept
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 May, 2014 - Pick your favorite four shapers then picture them. Rusty has a perennial mustache, Al Merrick has those beady eyes, Hayden Cox is pretty and could star in a daytime soap, Maurice Cole looks like a cast-member from Sesame Street, and on. The surfboard industry is built on the faces of these shaping celebrities.
Now SUPERbrand is seeking to shift that celebrity dynamic, steering it away from one shaper with their shaping “collective.” It’s a simple premise: A group of global shapers swap concepts and ideas to expand their designs while leaving the face of the brand to big personalities like Dion Agius.
As SUPERbrand builds on this new concept and branches out into the clothing market they chose former Reef creative director Marcelo Bengoechea for the role of CEO. Shifting the paradigm from shaper-celebrity to a shaper-collective, Bengoechea has his work cut out for him. Who is the invisible man behind an increasingly visible brand?
Marcelo Bengoechea, welcome to the SurfersVillage interview, How would you describe what you do for work to a very small, inattentive child?
We build rocket ships to play in the ocean with dolphins.
What makes your company so damn special?
As a company we are very design driven. From our surfboard templates and graphics, through our apparel line, to the way we represent ourselves positions SUPERbrand as an elevated surf brand where design, art and aesthetics really apply to everything we make.
Design cloth for SUPERBrand Surfboards' skate-influenced aesthetic
A huge differentiator is our Shapers’ Collective where shapers around the world collaborate in creating the best surfboards. Shapers like Sparrow from Australia, Nuno Matta from Portugal, Ricardo Martins from Brazil, Matt Kinoshita from Hawai’i, Lynn Shell from North Carolina, Jason Koons from California, and more to come, share ideas and designs towards the common goal of progression, speed and fun in all surf conditions.
The same design, quality and attention to detail are also found in our apparel line that is starting to get a lot of traction. Basically we are a premium brand. In and out of the water.
What is that you do at SUPERbrand that you are most proud of?
I would like to think that I inspire people to be the best that they can be. We have a very talented group of people doing some very unique stuff in surfboards and apparel. Since I joined the company 8 or 9 months ago we have been focusing our direction, cleaning up our operations and building a solid team that will take SUPERbrand to the next level. Our surfboard factories in the USA, Australia and Portugal are cranking as many high quality boards as we can make to supply the exciting increase in demand. The Fling has been on fire since its nomination to the SIMA Image Awards for Best Surfboard of the year. Even though we did not win it, it validated the performance and sick design of the board.
On the apparel side, we are creating more relevant collections to our core surf market while maintaining a foot in fashion trends. Focusing our manufacturing away from China has been a positive initiative. We are not completely off China yet but we now producing also in Portugal, Colombia and USA.
At the SUPERBrand factory in Carlsbad
What has been your biggest career mistake?
I am a very loyal person and even though I do not consider it to be a mistake, perhaps staying too long with a company hurt my career path a bit.
What did you learn from that mistake?
I learned that you shouldn’t get too comfortable doing what you do. Finding new challenges and experiences are way more rewarding and interesting.
What about your job would you like to not have to do?
I would like to not have to say no to good ideas. However, it is necessary to do so in order to be able to say yes to great ideas and to be able to execute them properly.
What was your biggest ‘Rocky’ (triumph) movie moment personally?
When I was running competitively, breaking a 25-year-old record and winning every race in that season was huge for me. I can still hear my grandma screaming from the stands to slow down, that the competition was way behind me. And from the other side, my coach yelling the exact opposite, to keep pushing and going for the record. There was no serious media at the stadium but to my surprise, when I got home they were all waiting for me to say something special. Had nothing to say other than work hard if you want to win.
And, yes, Marcelo has a mean backhand snap
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
Already did that at Seshday.com. I would be doing art. All sorts of it.
OK, you get to drop into five moments in history – surf or otherwise. Please name them and why.
- Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. Running the 3,000 meters Steeplechase final. Never made to the Olympics but it was not from trying.
- 1984, next to Steve Jobs launching the Macintosh.
- 1930s in Spain and France hanging out with Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Matisse and other revolutionary artists.
- Discovering G-Land with Gerry Lopez and friends in the 1970s.
- December 26, 2004. Sri Lanka. My younger brother Fernando was swept by the Indian Ocean Tsunami never to be found. If I were there maybe he would still be alive.