INTERVIEW WITH SIMA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VIPE DESAI.

Vipe Desai is a hair over 60 days in his new position as Executive Director at SIMA and is already making some serious change. Just last week Vipe announced that SIMA has officially changed the M in SIMA from “Manufactures” to “Members”. We caught up with our old friend to learn about the name change and what SIMA has in store for the future.

Vipe Rocking his limited edition BTR Brews and Boards shirt he purchased from Spyder.

BTR: You recently announced that after 33 years SIMA has officially changed it’s name from Surf Industry Manufacturers Association to Surf Industry Members Association. What do you hope the name change will bring to SIMA. Also why did you change the name?

Vipe: Well first I have to say that a lot has changed over the past 33 years that caused us to look at things with a wider lens. Back when we started brands were brands, retailers were retailers, board builders were board builders, etc…today there’s much more crossover – brands are retailers, retailers are brands, board builders are brands and retailers, etc. Plus we have the internet, the Olympics, Surf Parks, WSL is streaming incredible events – I mean, how awesome was Pipe and all the history that was made?

So the world and the industry have changed and an update to our name made a lot of sense to potentially invite more sectors to join playing a role in our industry’s future. I also look at it like we need to focus on the consumer – making sure they connect with the brands steeped in surf culture, connect with specialty stores, and the craftsmen pushing board technology. 

So when you put all that together, replacing manufacturers with members really makes a lot of sense.  

BTR: You have been the Executive Director at SIMA for a little over 60 days now. How has the journey been so far and what are your top goals for 2022?

Vipe: I am stoked. I feel incredibly supported by the board, our members and the entire surf community. It’s a phenomenal position to be in and sitting down and talking with the different groups in the industry has shown me that all of them love this industry, surfing culture and everything about it. And they want to protect it and see it thrive. And by listening to everyone they’ve shown me what I need to focus on.

So I’ve identified 3 pillars where our work here at SIMA will be focused on and this is:

Unification – we need to find more ways to work together for our collective benefit but everyone has to be able to remain independent to do their own thing. 

Advocacy – The industry is not one shop or a single brand and our collective force is something to be used to help the industry thrive. I’ve seen studies that peg the surf industry being valued at $65 billion – I plan to leverage the full economic force of our industry to bring us together and create opportunities for our members to save money, thrive and protect our ocean.

Philanthropy – SIMA has been a leader in purpose in supporting areas surrounding surf zones. This has been done through the SIMA Environmental Fund and the SIMA Humanitarian Fund. With all the environmental and social challenges facing coastal communities, SIMA can be an active participant to make things better. So look for more activity with these two efforts to ramp up in the coming years.

BTR: Sustainability and protecting our oceans has become a major priority for SIMA. Tell us about SIMA’s Sustainability Alliance and what it offers SIMA members?

Vipe: The Sustainability Business Alliance was started a few years ago and is headed up by Cathey Curtis, GM of Roxy, and its a great example of brands coming together to solve tough problems around waste and sustainability. Why should each company go it alone when they can share knowledge and ideas but also bring to the table solutions that can scale and have a positive impact. The first big initiative that is performing well is through Elastic Suite and the elimination of paper catalogs by going digital. This is a small step in the right direction and really allows brands and retailers to be part of the solution – brands don’t have to make the catalogs and retailers don’t have to request or discard catalogs – that’s how we collaborate and take steps on the right direction.

Vipe has been a longtime supporter of our oceans and planet

BTR: Will we see a return of SIMA Surf Summit?

Vipe: Yes. We’re working on it and if everything comes together as we’re hoping for, its going to be one for the history books! 

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