The Wire

Look inside Billabong and Volcom with Firewire Co-Founder Dougall Walker; CEO of Volcom Australia

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Filed under: Podcast

Hear this episode on iTunes here and Stitcher here.

Dougall today at Cloudbreak, surfing a Slater Designs Omni.

Without Dougall Walker you might not be surfing a Firewire Surfboard and Kelly Slater might not own a surfboard company.

For the past six years, Dougall Walker has been CEO of Volcom Australia. But before that, during a break from the surf industry, Dougall was one of the original investors in Firewire.

That’s not where this story begins though…

Dougall in 81′ at Pipeline.

-1980: At Rocky Point, Dougall becomes the first person ever to surf a thruster in Hawaii, riding a board that Simon Anderson brought to Oahu but left under his bed, not wanting to walk down the beach with it.

-1981: Dougall becomes the first person to ride a surfboard with three fins in the Pipe Masters. A contest Simon Anderson went on to win on a Thruster.

-1986: Billabong Founder Gordon Merchant brings Dougall into Billabong as Sales Manager.

-2004: After 18 years at Billabong and helping grow the company to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue a year, Dougall retires his post as General Manager of Billabong Australasia, where he managed a staff of 300 people and oversaw every aspect of the business.

-2006: During a ‘sabbatical’ from the surf industry at a time when Dougall wasn’t even reading surf magazines (but still surfing non-stop), Nev Hyman convinces Dougall to become one of the founding investors in Firewire after Dougall rode one of the first Firewire boards ever made.

-2011: After living as a retired surfer for 7 years, Dougall Joins Volcom as CEO of Australia.

-2017: Dougall joins us on The Wire Podcast.

Dougall at his home in New South Wales; happily wearing Volcom, and running Volcom’s operations in Australia and Asia.

This is a very enlightening conversation with a really fun guy who has lived a very authentic life as a surfer in the surf business, and he shared so much in this episode that it turned into our longest episode of The Wire Podcast ever.

If you’ve ever found yourself wanting a surfer’s backstage view of what it’s like to be inside brands like Rip Curl, Billabong, Volcom and more, you’ll love this episode as Dougall recounts the details behind never before heard stories like

– The way it felt to sit across from Bob Hurley as Bob told him and Billabong Founder Gordon Merchant that he was leaving Billabong to start Hurley.

– The specific things that made Billabong go from making board shorts at a kitchen table to one of the largest clothing brands ever, and the way his experiences at Billabong inform the decisions he makes today at Volcom.

– What it’s like to nearly get killed at Pipeline, and then paddle right back out.

– What to do when you make mistakes, and the way he empowers his co-workers and employees to follow their instincts.

And of course much more…

This episode was recorded overlooking this wave, a famous break up the road from Dougall’s house.

Listen to this episode:

on iTunes here and on Stitcher here. And if you like the song in the intro of this episode by Joakim Karud, you’ll find that here.


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