In this edition of InflatableBoarder.com's SUP Company Spotlight series, we caught up with iRocker SUP founders Dave Erwin and Steve Elder to learn more about their fast-growing, Jacksonville, FL-based company. Since coming onto the inflatable paddle board scene a few years ago, the popular iRocker SUP lineup has grown to six models including two from their brand new BLACKFIN range of premium inflatables…
How were you guys initially introduced to the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
I guess we have both just always been around the sport. Boating and water sports played a big part in both of our lives. Stephen had a windsurfing board he would use as a paddle board when he was younger. It is actually how he met his wife.
What ignited the spark in you to get involved in the industry?
Back when we both got more involved in the sport of SUP, the inflatable SUP was gaining more popularity but was still a new concept. When we were introduced to the inflatable SUP and learned more about them, we both just knew that this was an opportunity to bring a new concept of SUP to others who would enjoy it as much as we did.
How important have good employees been to your success?
For the first 4 years we were in the SUP industry it was only Dave and Steve. This kept us very busy. We didn’t have a customer service department, a shipping and receiving department, a research and development department. All of that was Dave and Steve. We are very passionate about what we do and want to make sure that we provide the best customer experience as possible. I believe that without that, we would not be where we are today.
If you had a chance to start your company over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, we have made mistakes along the way, plenty of mistakes but each mistake has turned in to a learning experience and we are better because of them.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I don’t like to think of anything as a failure but as a learning experience.
How many hours a day do you work on average, and what does your typical day look like?
Depends on who you ask, I can tell you we spend about 8 hours a day in the office but our wives will tell you we don’t stop working. There are plenty of evenings we sit around and text back and forth about something that happened that day or an idea that someone has.
What motivates you, and who has been your greatest inspiration?
Just the feeling of success is our main motivation. That feeling of knowing that you have been able to create something that others enjoy as much as you do.
How do you define success?
We define success by the enjoyment our customers get out of our product.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the SUP industry?
Meeting and speaking with new people every day whether it’s one of our customers or someone else that is involved in the SUP industry. We have customers who call us up and tell us stories about their SUP adventures, where they went, what they saw, or how their whole family has gotten into the sport. Hearing these stories is awesome. There are times where we find ourselves in a 20 or 30 minute conversation with our customers just talking about these things. I spoke to an individual the other day that was blind. She and her husband go out paddle boarding and her husband gives her directions on where to paddle. That is cool!
Where do you see the paddleboarding industry in 10 years? 20 years?
The SUP industry is in such a booming phase right now. It seems like every day there is something new coming out whether it’s a new accessory, a new feature on a board, or even a whole new concept of paddle boarding. And now SUP coming to the Olympics is very exciting as well. SUP is going to gain more and more popularity and more people are going to get involved with the industry. It will be very exciting to see how far the industry progresses over the next 10 or 20 years.