by Justin Phipps,
At the end of the 2012 season I started to get some flow from Von Zipper Rockies rep Brad Gobdel. He was the first person to help sponsor me in snowboarding.
It took us a little while to get together cause he is always working or doing awesome things. After a little while I called him and we met over at Menchie’s in Denver for frozen yogurt and did an interview. It was my first interview and it went great. Check it out.
JP: How many states have you lived in Brad?
BG: How many states? I grew up in South Bend, Indiana and I started snowboarding and skateboarding in Indiana and southwest Michigan. So I’ve lived in two states, plus Colorado, and then.. California for a little bit, so I guess four.
JP: Nice, California’s nice.
BG: It is, but I like it here better, in Colorado.
JP: So uh, where did you like go to high school and college at, what schools?
BG: I went to high school, it was called Marion High School in South Bend, which is where Notre Dame is and it’s kind of right on the border where Indiana and Michigan is, just kind of a quiet town and then I moved out Colorado State, to Fort Collins, to um basically to go snowboarding.. and to go to school.
JP: um, so how many props you got for being such a rad industry guy?
BG: (laughing) Never ending flow of props!
BG: (laughing) but it’s also..
JP: Like how many in a day??
BG: Ten thousand..
BG: No.. I don’t even know. As fun as everyone thinks it is, it’s job just like everyone else, the only difference is I get to do what I love, talk to people about cool things that everbody enjoys, you know talk to people about surfboards, skateboards, and snowboards, and boots and bindings, and goggles, and going to the beach and being in the mountains. So it’s still hard work, but, you know it beats just punchin’ a clock workin’ at a cabinet factory, or you know, doin’ something that you don’t wanna do you feel like you have to do it. So it’s not so much about the respect or being cool or whatever it’s just I been lucky enough to figure out at a pretty young age how to do, you know, immerse myself in what I love to do and somehow being able to squeeze a living out of it. so..
JP: Nice, so how many of them just turn out to be people just trying to be nice to you? You know, to get hooked up?
BG: That’s pretty rare, I get that from time to time, but for the most part, you know, I play it pretty cool, I don’t always come out and I’m not the loudest guy and come out and say ‘Hey this is what I do’ and you know make a lot of noise about it.
BG: It’s you know every once in awhile, especially with like Facebook and Instagram and stuff, you get a lotta just, ‘Hey check me out, sponsor me’ and .. 95% of that time, it’s not, it’s not the way it works, it, it’s you know you send me something and I think it’s cool I’ll, you know, be cool back kinda thing.
BG: Most of the people that I hear from, you know they just kind of say that, and I, I kind laugh, so..
JP: Okay, alright.. How do you handle getting ganged up for hook-ups and still manage to keep your cool?
BG: (laughing) I usually just make a joke about it, umm, or I just ask them what do they do, you know, and if they say you know they work at a pizza place, I say why don’t you just give me a thousand dollars worth of pizza.
BG: you know because you’re asking me for a thousand dollars worth of snowboard stuff, and then they kind of get it. You know?
BG: .. but usually if people are asking like that they’re not worthy of it anyway, and my, what I’ve found is, you know the people that are sponsored or the people that are hooked up, they were gonna get hooked up anyway, whether it be me or anybody else, because they’re obviously good at what they do, they have the right attitude and eventually… it would have happened eventually is what I’m saying. But there are always knuckleheads out there that are ‘Gimme this, gimme that!!’ and you just kinda have to laugh it off.
JP: You must snowboard like about a hundred times a year?
JP: Where do you like to ride?
BG: I wish I snowboarded a hundred times a year!! But.. I’m sure you snowboarded more than I did last year. So. I usually ride, my, my most fun, or the places I the places I usually go are Loveland, um. I love going to Loveland, especially on a powder day because there’s nobody there and you can just really go. And well for me, it’s easy I can just sneak out and go in the mornings during the week and ride you know until about 1 or noon, and then come home and I’ll still have time to work, um, or I really like Vail a lot too, so Vail, we have a good group of guys that we get together, Tommy, and Josh Neirnberg, and a couple of other guys we get together and we ride Vail a lot.
BG: Those are my two favorite places in Colorado… but you definately snowboard a lot more than me.
JP: Yeah (laughing). So, let’s say you got a sales call to make what do you do the night before, watch the movie Rocky??
BG: (laughing) Totally! I put on my cut off. I cut the sleeves off my favorite hoody and then I run while my wife follows me on her bicycle.. and I listen to Eye of the Tiger!
BG: Yeah.. No (laughing) I don’t do anything special! No the good thing about what I do I usually know the people already, and if I don’t, there’s usually common ground skateboarding or snowboarding or something like that so even if it’s a scary meeting you can always kinda break the ice with you know, your common interests, your common loves for the sports that we do.
JP: Alright… You must be like 6’7″ or something, are you part Viking?
BG: Yes! I’m actually part baby giraffe!! and I’m ONLY 6’4″, so.. yeah tall guy style is hard to come by there’s only two guys in the world that I consider to have good style that are tall and that’s Bode Miller and Chris Engelsman. So everyone else like me.. we’re cursed!!
JP: Um.. besides repping for the best goggle company in the world.
JP: what other gear do you help your customers own?
BG: Well I just picked up Rome Snowboards which I’m super excited about. I also do DVS shoes, Lakai shoes, Matix clothing, and AirHole facemasks. So it’s always stuff that I try to associate myself brands that I believe in and brands that fit my style never just.. just do something for the money, something like that. It has to be something that I myself would wear or ride, or use, umm cause that’s just makes it so much easier and you don’t have to fake it. You know, if you really believe in the goggle that you wear and ride it everytime, it helps you get out there and sell it, same with snowboard stuff too.
JP: Cool. Didn’t you used to rep for Bond?
BG: Yep, Bond outerwear was a really fun one and that’s kind of a perfect example of what I just said because I had worked with those guys a long time ago, the guys that started Bond … and .. they approached me had a really fun, kind of, eco-friendly outerwear idea that they wanted to do, and that was one, I mean barely made, I don’t think I made any money on it, but was just a really fun cool thing to be a part of. So, you know, I backed the, I backed the owners of the company and I backed the product and unfortunately, they just kinda ran outta money.
BG: So, it didn’t, it just didn’t work how they had planned.
JP: .. that’s sad.. Alright, let’s see (pause). Does Von Zipper let you MAKE the goggles?
BG: I wish! No we don’t actually, I don’t actually make ’em and I’ve never actually been to the factory, but we do have little focus groups, and sometimes some of the more snow heavy reps will get together, and you know one time we all me in Tahoe and then talked about goggles and trends and you know what we like to see and where we think the evolution of goggles is going, so..
BG: So we do, I do get to put some input into it, but Von Zipper they already have too many talented guys over there, they don’t need more. They don’t need me telling ’em what to do, they already know for the most part.
JP: Alright, like, where is the factory, is it in Colorado?
BG: They have the headquarters for Von Zipper is in Irvine, California, and all the goggles are made in China, at some of the best goggle factories in the world. So there’s a lot of, you’d be suprised, almost every goggle on the hill is made in about only two or three places in the whole world. It’s crazy, you think about all that stuff.
JP: Alright.. uh. Have you ever met Mr. Zipper? I bet he drinks Dos Equis.
BG: Yep! I’ve met, I’ve met all the guys that founded Von Zipper, they still work there today and it was a group of four or five friends, who saw an opportunity, and wanted to do something fun in the sunglasses and goggles market, and um, they actually got the name Von Zipper from an old 60’s surf movie, there was a character named Eric Von Zipper who was just the craziest biker guy that would just ride just ride his motorcycle onto the beach, flip over, and just slam on the beach but still be havin’ a good time and he was everybody’s friend. Yeah, it’s all from the Beach Blanket Bingo movies..
JP: Like what do you mean flipping, like he would go off of a wave??
BG: No, you know, he would just haul on his bike on the beach and then he would hit the sand and he would flip over and land on the beach, shake himself off, you know, grab a soda and keep goin.. so.
JP: That’s awesome!
BG: He was a funny guy.
JP: Um, what roles do you have in your business?
BG: Well (pause). I do a lot of different things. My official title is sales, outside sales representative of the Rockies, but the main thing is I just create and maintain relationships with all my retailers. And then I also do a little bit of marketing and events, and trying to get, you know, my brands out there a little bit more. And then also, a little bit of team management, so you know talking to guys like you and helping you guys out, um things like that so it’s not really.. everyday is different. Some days it’s fun on the snow or some days its just returning phone calls and emails or some days its driving around all day. So it just depends.
JP: Alright. (pause). John Jackson’s a pretty good snowboarder, do you ever get to meet the pros that ride for Von Zipper?
BG: Uh-huh. I’ve met John a bunch of times, I’ve never gone snowboarding with him though, that’s the one thing I haven’t been able to do..
BG: I’ve met him.. (pause) .. I think the first time I’ve met him was almost ten years ago when I used to work for an outerwear brand called Planet Earth and John used to have a pro model gear on Planet Earth outerwear and I met him in the office one time, um, and the most recent time I saw John was .. oh man .. in January I think so I haven’t seen him in a really long time and he’s a really cool guy and he always remembers who I am and he’s always got a smile on his face. John is one of the coolest dudes, he’s one of the mellowest dudes. So it’s funny when you, you know, when you meet someone like that, you don’t really know how they are but at the end of the day everybody’s just like us, they’re no different really, they just get to snowboard more than we do.
BG: (laughs) and in better places sometimes!!
JP: It’s gotta be hard, right? Has anybody blamed you or gotten mad at you for something that you never have done?
BG: It happens all the time. Um, and that’s where it all goes back to building the relationships that I, um you know, working with people and always being honest and and never making shortcuts to make a quick buck on it because our industry is so small that there’s no room to burn people or screw up, because you know, you do that one day and a year later the guy that you totally lied to or ripped off, he’s your boss. You know the industry’s really small and so you know, and you should do this anyway whether it’s small or not, but you just kind of do what you say you’re going to do and do what you feel is right then if someone gets mad at you then it’s okay, you know, and no one’s perfect, I screw stuff up all the time, but, if you’re honest with people and you say ‘Hey man, you know sorry your order got lost, I just didn’t put it in’, or you know things like that if you’re honest with ’em and you don’t, you know, BS ’em, they’ll understand. You know you tell people hey this is my favorite board or my this goggle is our number one goggle they get it in the shop and it doesn’t sell for whatever reason and you know they try to put it on you, but you know, maybe, skier visits are down, or there’s no snow, or it’s a low light goggle and it’s nothin but sunny out, then you know, it’s very rarely its anyone’s real fault. I really hope that my buyers respect my opinion but I definately don’t know everything about everything. So.. does that make any sense? But you know a lotta that stuff it happens all the time, you know in my business, shipping… if you order 200 things and you get a hundred of ’em, something happened, so you know it’s my job to figure out what happened and make it right, you know?
JP: Are you good at math?
BG: No, I am terrible at math, that is my worst subject ever.
JP: Me too..
BG: My dad is a genius, he’s an accountant, and he has a PHD in psychology. My brother is also a genius and is an investment banker and runs his own investment firm. Both of those guys are incredible at math. When I went to college I looked at the coursebook and I told my dad, ‘Pick a major that has nothing to do with math’ and that’s what I wanna do. Cause (laughing), I didn’t want (pause), I’m terrible at that.
JP: Do you like, not like it??
BG: No I just get frustrated with it because it doesn’t come easy to me, so..
JP: You’re just like me.
BG: Yeah, it’s hard cause, math is super important and I got through it, but I just don’t.. I just don’t see the numbers.. in my head. I’m more visual.
JP: Do you get to travel to competitions?
BG: You know, I don’t go to many competitions. Umm, only because they’re usually when I’m really busy, like, I’ve been to the x-games before but now that they are right during my busiest time of year I won’t be going to that anytime soon. I’m really looking forward to the US Open being at Vail this year. I finally get to go to the US Open. Umm.. I’ve been to a bunch of surf contests, which is funny cause I don’t surf that well, (laughs) so.. I’ve probably been to more big time pro surf contests than big time pro snowboard contests.
BG: Which is weird.
JP: Do you surf??
BG: Sometimes. I’m not very good, but one of my best friends is a really good surfer and lives in California. So when I go visit him or we go somewhere fun like Hawaii or Costa Rica I’ll definately try to surf.
JP: Nice, I like surfing too.
BG: Yeah, but I definately don’t call myself a surfer. I’m terrible.
JP: (laughs). So you have some awesome people that ride for your company, like up and coming shreds..
BG: Yep, we do. Like you and uh (laughs), yeah that’s the coolest part, like you get to follow, like kinda like fantasy football where you follow your favorite dudes, you know now with like Instagram and Facebook you can get on and you know see where Jamie Lynn is today, or where Terje, or you know Bjorn, or LNP, or you know that’s something you have an opportunity with that I never had. Cause everything you know its ‘Oh cool, John Jackson’s in Chile right now’, or so its kinda fun to be able to see all that stuff. You used to have to wait for the newest magazine to come out and now it just pops up on your iPad, or you phone even. So yeah, but there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of up and coming dudes who I can’t think of right now, but, I just like watching guys progress and do things that have never been done before or things that I would never think of. Who are some of the guys you like? Who are some of your favorite snowboarders?
JP: Oh, hmm. Well, I used to like Shaun White a lot, I still do like him, but, Scott Stevens..
JP: I have one more question. How do you stay awake in work? Do you five hour energy, or coffee?
BG: (laughs) The secret to staying awake at work is to do stuff that isn’t boring. So, I never really get bored at work. I uh, drink one cup of coffee in the morning, every day, and that’s it. I don’t believe in energy drinks, I think they’re really bad for people and I don’t condone that at all. If I’m really sleepy, I maybe drink two cups of coffee in a day, but then I’m wired all night, I usually don’t have any trouble staying awake. But again, if you do what you love to do, you.. think about it, if your job was to skateboard all day and talk about skateboards and snowboards, it’s pretty fun.
BG: You know, you could stay awake all night talking about snowboarding and skateboarding. So..
JP: That’s it!
BG: That’s it man!! Alright.
BG: Thank you guys, that was fun!!