Vice President - Podium Distribution
November 1, 2003
Interview with Brian Dunlap
Pick up a Happy Magazine (http://www.happymag.com) to see the Industrial Profile in print.
We sat down for a quick conversation with Brian Dunlap of Podium Distribution to find out what he’s up to and how it all started.
Brian Dunlap; Age: 29. Owner and Vice President, Podium Distribution.
How did Podium Distribution get started?
We partnered up with Tim Gavin and launched DVS Shoe Company in ’94 (Fall ASR) and started shipping in Spring ’95. A few years later Daeweon (Song) and Tim Gavin had an idea to start a clothing line. Fall of ’98 MATIX Clothing was launched and Podium Distribution was formed. A couple of years later the shoe craze was really booming and we partnered up with Rick Howard and Mike Carroll and started Lakai. In 2002 we saw a need for a lifestyle shoe brand and launched Clae.
What where you doing before Podium?
We started with our first retail store in’90, and in ‘93 opened a second store called 118 Boardshop, both of which were 30 minutes north of Los Angeles. When we first opened, 118 the shoe craze had just began and we could never get enough products from Etnies, Duffs and Airwalk. Between the growing sku’s and issues with shipping and getting product in the door, it became evident to us that there was room in the market for another shoe brand.
What has your role been?
I moved over from our retail operation a few months after launching DVS. At first, I bounced back in forth between the shop and DVS, running the shop and taking care of all DVS apparel and accessories. As things started to get going with DVS, I focused on that full time. When Matix came into the picture I took control of it as well. I am currently responsible for all apparel and soft goods for Podium Distribution.
MATIX has been getting a lot of attention over the past few months. What is you’re involvement with it?
My main focus has been overseeing all aspects of MATIX, from design to production to marketing, basically the entire gamut. I think coming from retail, I really understand what the shops want. We are focused on building quality products and ensuring on-time deliveries. Deliveries were always something the skate industry never really focused on. Other brands always built apparel around “at once” biz like hard goods. If you really want to compete with the big boys, that philosophy just doesn’t work.
On a side note, in August ’03 Matix will be introducing a new marketing program called “PROJEKT PROGRESS”. The main focus of this new program is to bring awareness to the Matix brand and to assist our retail network in the best way possible. We will do this in a variety of ways starting with grassroots involvement, a huge advertising and POP campaign, the addition of new athletes and cross endorsements. We have been working on this concept for quite some time and it is now going to be put in motion.
What is your biggest challenge in your job, as it exists today?
Trying to keep focused on all the small details. Although I oversee all the clothing and accessories, I also assist with the DVS and Lakai shoe brands. I enjoy being involved with the shoes as it gives me an entire perspective of our customers from their head to their feet. With all the brands sustaining growth from season to season, my responsibilities grow with them. I always try to remember back when I was a retailer and what was important and try to implement as best as I can.
I know you are also involved with Podium Distribution teams, and are a key-player in building the snow team. What can you tell us about the world of snow?
It’s top secret. Wait until the first ad breaks this season.
Ok, how about I give you a dollar. Will you tell me then?
You got it. A few years ago, I met up with Mikey LeBlanc and talked with him about riding for DVS. Mikey was really interested in the opportunity, and eventually decided to join the family. Mikey and I are good friends and have a great working relationship. We share the same views and will not make any moves without both of us in total agreement. This year we introduced some new faces for both Matix and DVS and DVS is the corporate sponsor for the two biggest videos, Mack Dawg and Wild Cats. The 03-04 season will be big for our snow programs.
I’ve heard you are also launching a big moto-x program. Can you comment on that?
We’ve had moto program for a few years, but at the beginning of ’03 we decided to go full-force. We brought on a full time team manager (Jason Balcon) and added a couple heavy weights to the team list. We just inked a long-term contract with Metzger that both sides are super psyched on. The team now consists of Mike Metzger, Drake McElroy, Ronnie Faisst, Tyler Evans, Doug Parsons, and Colin Morrison. Our first ad just came out in July and we will now be advertising our moto team monthly. I really cannot say everything we have going on, but I can say we have a few things up our sleeves that the public will know about in the coming months.
Anything to add?
What’s the single most rewarding aspect of your job?
Riding the Piru track yesterday morning with Russ and Balcon. It doesn’t happen often but it sure is fun.
Is there anything you can tell the readers about working or succeeding in the industry?
Just keep focused and do not take things for granted. Work hard & don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
What about school?
Because of the family biz I had to I skip most of my college years. It all worked out though.
Is there anyone you want to give a shout to?
My new baby girl Ashley, my wife Sandy, KD, Gavin, MD, Feiger, my parents Nancy and Winston, the Podium crew, our reps, distributors and retailers, my friends, and the guys at Malakye (they’re really on to something). I think that about covers it.