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Corky Carroll on the effervescence of Bob Hurley

Bob Hurley and Rabbit Bartholomew © Surfing Queensland 


Corky's Blog

Surfwear empire has roots in Bob Hurley's first surf Orange County surf shop

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 9 April, 2012 : - - I guess you could call this one of those "local boy makes good" kinda stories. I am sure that all of you have heard of the Hurley brand of surfwear; it's pretty much a household word in any house that holds anybody who surfs or anybody who wears clothes between the ages of 5 and 75. But, outside of the core surfing community, most of you probably don't know much about the guy who is behind the name – Bob Hurley.

I was at the Hurley International headquarters in Costa Mesa not long ago. My son Clint had managed to score me a pass to shop in the company employee store so that I could grab a couple new pairs of surf trunks. Yeah, yeah... I know most of you call them "boardshorts" now, but that is an Aussie term that I never quite gravitated to. Call me old school, or just old.

While there I saw that Bob had a shaping room set up so that he could still shape a board or two when he felt like it. That is what gave me the idea to write this little piece on him. Bob Hurley is an Orange County boy who got started with his own surf shop right there in Costa Mesa in 1975. He was a very talented shaper and Hurley Surfboards was a popular brand in the area. A pal of mine left one at my house and I rode it at Cotton's a few times, great board.

It's estimated that Bob shaped more than 15,000 boards from '75 to '83. At that time, being smarter than most of the rest of us surf rats who get stuck in the groove of what we are doing and don't see past the next cutback, he approached a small surfwear company in Australia named Billabong with the idea of obtaining the license to manufacture and sell their products in the United States. His Billabong U.S.A. became huge, bringing in over $67 million in sales over the next 16 years.

In 1998 Bob blew away the surfing world by launching his own brand of surfwear and achieving immediate success. A very clever approach of advertising for a year before the brand was on the market led to a feeding frenzy of sales when the product finally reached the waiting shelves of surf shops all over the country, and eventually the world. Overnight, he was sitting on top of one of the biggest brands in the world.

Then in 2002 he partnered with mega big Nike in an effort to stretch the brand even farther than it already was. And that was way far out. Today, Hurley International has its hands in everything from surfwear to entertainment. There are kids', girls' and guys' lines plus wetsuits and just about anything else that you can think of.

To say that this is a success story would be a huge understatement. What I like about this story the most is that through all of this, Bob still shapes a board now and then and still goes surfing more than most people. You probably don't know what he looks like but he could very easily be the guy that just took that last good set wave.

I like it when the people behind these "surf" companies actually surf. Bob is a very hardcore surf rat in the deepest Orange County sense of the term. He just was on top of it enough to be able to not only sniff the cheese but to take a monster big bite out of it. Come to think of it, I would not be surprised to see Hurley Shredder Cheddar in the dairy department. Come home to a "ham and Hurley" sandwich. Heck, he has made so much "bread" that he should have his own bread, too.

O.K., I am getting carried away. Or maybe should be carried away? I have no idea if Bob reads this stuff, but if he does, then let me offer up a sincere "congratulations" on not only all the achievements but also being able to stay cool in the midst of all that. Good on ya.


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Source: Corky's Blog

Author: Corky Carroll /

Tags: Bob Hurley, Corky Carroll, Orange County, Industry,

Corky's Blog - Surfersvillage



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