Trading Roberts At Ride: Company names new president, announces preseason orders

Ride Snowboards seems to be on a roll. In the last year, the company turned itself around, announced that preseason orders are up 41 percent, and then replaced its entire management team. With things going so well, it seems quite a drastic move.

How well are things going at Ride? According to its preseason orders for shipments in the 1998/99 fiscal year, business in the United States is up 61 percent, Canada is up 66 percent, and Europe’s up nineteen percent. Preseason orders totaled approximately 37-million dollars compared to 26-million dollars in 1997.

While preseason orders for last year were 26-million, the year ended with 36-million dollars in sales. With this to go by, the 37-million dollars of preseason orders for 1998 could lead to more than 40-million dollars in sales by year’s end.

The only continued problem-Japan. Orders in Asia decreased by five percent, primarily due to decreases in apparel bookings and the economic conditions in that market.

So why, with things on an upswing, did the two principals responsible for the changes-President Bob Hall and Senior VP of Board Sports and Administration Bruce Manke-depart?

“I feel pretty good about the turnaround at Ride, so good in fact that I’m calling it a finished project,” Hall says. With that, he and Manke announced that they are forming a new enterprise named Delta Partners that will specialize in turnarounds and M&A transitions.

Taking over as president, chief executive officer, and board director is Robert Marcovitch. For the newly promoted Marcovitch, who has been with Ride since 1994, the brand is definitely on a rebound. “We brought Bob Hall in to improve Ride’s market share by building upon the company’s product quality, marketing, and overall customer service,” he says. “As our ’98 preseason orders indicate, he certainly accomplished his task. With this momentum, we now have the tools to take Ride forward and build a stronger brand in the future, a goal to which the new management team is strongly committed.”

Marcovitch was most recently senior vice president responsible for the international and apparel divisions where he repositioned the brand overseas, resulting in increased market share in Europe.

Marcovitch is excited about the future of Ride. The week after he took over, the company rented out a local brewery house and threw a party for past and present employees.

“Our strengths right now are our product, passion for the sport, and perseverance,” he says. “Our weaknesses are our apparel and the overall state of the industry.”

But he’s sure the company will continue to move forward with the momentum and new leadership. “It’s time to put the passion back into the brand,” says Marcovitch. “It was the missing link, and it will take us to the new level.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to announce that Ride is back in a growth mode,” he continues. “This display of confidence in Ride by our retailers and distributors demonstrates the strengthening position of our brands within this rapidly consolidating market.”

To continue on the roll, Marcovitch quickly reorganized the company and management. In fact, these employees are one of the biggest assets he believes Ride possesses.

“We have employees with strong personal ties to snowboarding and an incredible understanding of the worldwide market,” he says. “The reorganization will simplify the company’s structure, make it more cost effective, creative, and resourceful.”

Greg Cook, former president of Ride Canada, takes the title of chief operating officer for all of Ride Sports, and is now responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. He has been with Ride for over two years.

The moves didn’t stop there: Scott Mavis is the new vice president of marketing after being responsible for all of Ride’s European business. Mark Brasier takes over as vice president of sales. He most recently ran Ride’s Liquid division where he successfully executed the relaunch of the ccompany’s Liquid brand of snowboards, boots, and bindings worldwide. G. Scott Stewart takes a new title of vice president of finance and continues as chief financial officer.

“We have organized Ride under a more functional organization structure that will provide better service for our U.S. retailers and international customers, improve all aspects of our corporate communication, and ultimately maximize profits for our shareholders through improved internal efficiencies,” says Marcovitch.

Here are Ride’s preseason orders by product category (in thousands):

1998 1997 Percent Change

Snowboards$14,297$9,814 46 percent

Boots$6,358 $3,20398 percent

Bindings $8,552 $6,851 25 percent

Apparel & accessories$5,449$6,196(12) percent

OEM, wake, and other$2,380$186 1,180 percent

Total $37,036$26,25041 percent

Note: The 1998 apparel and accessory amount includes the preseason orders of Smiley Hats, Inc. which was acquired by the company in July 1997.