The End Of Eras / by craig levers

This Is An End

As it turned out June and July 2017 were significant months for the NZ surfing community. Rip Curl NZ's CEO Paul Muir retired after 30 years at the helm. Wayne Parkes closed the doors on the Barry's Point Road Factory for the last time. 

Let's start with Paul. You probably don't know who he his and that is probably how Paul likes it. Paul started selling Rip Curl Wetsuits in the 1980's when AG Mitchell and Sons had the licence. This was when Rip Curl only made wetsuits. AG Mitchell And Sons were one of NZ's largest sporting goods importers and Rip Curl was one of their many lines.  

AG Mitchell scaled down and Paul grabbed the chance to be Rip Curl's NZ man. This was a little before my time, but the stories of him and Richard Langdon touring the country are the stuff of legend. In the mid eighties you either wore a Moray wetsuit made in Devonport, a Rip Curl or an O'Neill.  Companies like Quiksilver and Billabong were a decade off joining the party. 

Paul choose this shot of Larry Fisher to be a double page spread 'The Search' Advert in 1994. At the time it he cited it was so uniquely Kiwi. The advert got raved about for months. And that's why it was included in the book PhotoCPL. Larry Fisher is still sponsored by Rip Curl now.
I started selling adverts in NZ Surfing Mag in 1993. Rip Curl and Billabong shared the same building in Barry’s Point Rd. Rip Curl also had Reef sandals and Billabong had Oakley. They were the two biggest advertising accounts by a country mile. It was nothing short of terrifying driving down that driveway.
Things were about to blow up; surfing in NZ was about to go through massive growth. Billabong and Rip Curl both expanded into their own buildings. I liked that. The magazine also benefited from this growth 94-97. But by '99 the magazine was floundering. We had turned over three editors in quick succession.  The magazine wasn't speaking to its readers. There'd be moments of glory and then we'd plunge back into mediocrity. I lost faith in what I was trying to sell. 

On a mid winter Wednesday, Paul summoned me to Rip Curl in Te Pai Place in Albany. It was late in the day, my last sales meeting before knocking off. I had some images to show him for the next issue. But he wasn't too interested, he had another plan. For the next 2.30 hours he sat with me and explained what he'd like to see in the surf mag. He wasn't pushing a Rip Curl agenda. It became real clear, real fast that he wanted the magazine to reach it's readers. He was thinking bigger picture. He wanted to see a magazine that was worth him advertising in because it had the readers satisfied.

The thing that has always stayed with me about this mentoring session was that Paul didn't have to do it. He took time after work hours to talk to me, to offer up proactive observations that were astute and informed. Instead of pointing out what was going wrong, he offered up what could be great. 

Within a year I took on the role of Editorial Director, and largely put Paul's plan into place. The magazine boomed again. We strove to meet the needs of the reader, not the wants of the industry. But by doing so made something that was worth advertising in.  

Rip Curl NZ got huge, and Paul captained the ship through that growth. Then 2008 happened, the bottom fell out of the market. Paul navigated Rip Curl through the retrenchment. It must have been horrible, getting the emails from head office in Oz as to who had to go. It would have been hard to go from a massive warehouse and sales building back to a small cubicled office space.

His retirement party in Takapuna June 30 stood testament to his mana. The bar was filled to the gunnels. Past staff members, industry captains and rivals, family and friends. 

Wayne in the pit, in Barry's Point Road... as seen in PhotoCPL

Wayne Parkes needs no introduction.  Nor am I going to attempt to allude to his massive contribution to NZ Surfing in this already too long web log/ E-Bomb. 

Last year, Wayne's close friend and glasser, Phil Jamieson passed. There has been speculation and gossip since about how much this has affected Wayne. Indeed the duo produced the most beautifully finished boards, in fact beyond world class. 

At 67 Wayne has pulled the pin on the Barry's Point Road factory. This is the end of an incredible era. There has been surfboards made on the premises for nearly 50 years. Originally Mary Davie found the building for Mike Court to set up the Auckland Bob Davies Factory. Wayne took over the lease when Mike and Bob moved on. 

Over the last month Wayne and friends have demolished the factory's partitions and bays. The stories those walls could share. The legendary Christmas parties Wayne so generously hosted. Phil's passion for our coasts and the tales told. Hell, the tales created in those rooms. From all accounts it’s going to become a courier depot.

Wayne has moved up to Waipu where he'll continue to craft the most beautiful boards.  

Yesterday Paul Oliver did this to my Piha Bar Shack  image. It was shared it on Instagram and it went nuts. Thanks Paul- Love it!