The year was 1976. Six years earlier, Torquay surfer Alan Green had created a line of scalloped boardshorts under the moniker Quiksilver as an offshoot of Rip Curl Wetsuits. Together with Hawaiian power surfer Jeff Hakman, a bullish USC business school grad named Bob McKnight saw an opportunity to license the swimwear in the U.S. Quiksilver USA was born.
Fast forward several generations and Quiksilver skyrocketed to become surfing’s biggest, wealthiest company. At its height, the company raked in $2.5 billion, had a storefront in Times Square of all places, and was behind some of professional surfing’s most iconic events – from the Eddie to the Quik Pro Gold Coast.
Quiksilver’s fall from grace, too, is well documented. And Bob McKnight doesn’t shy away from talking about its foibles he now sees as key learning experiences.
Now, Bob’s son Robbie has followed in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps, having launched a belt brand called Cuater – a pursuit, as Robbie alludes, Bob has his hands in. That, as it were, explains Travis Mathew’s interest in profiling the figurehead of another apparel brand. Cuater is owned by TravisMathew.
Despite the corporate interests at play, Bob McKnight’s story is an interesting one. A little ingenuity mixed with a right place, right time kind of thing.
B-roll shots hint at Quiksilver’s new identity as part of the “Boardriders” umbrella – a company, you may recall, that recently brought another surf giant, Billabong, into the fold.
Quiksilver’s story, after all, is really the surf industry’s story at large: how a cottage industry took the world by storm, went public, plunged, and is picking up the pieces.