For this edition of SUP Company Spotlight, we interviewed Tahoe SUP founder, Nate Brouwer. Celebrating their 10-year anniversary, Tahoe SUP continues their tradition of innovation, dedication to quality, and commitment to sharing the SUP stoke…
How were you initially introduced to the sport of stand up paddle boarding?
In 2006 I saw someone standup paddle surfing in Laguna Beach and wanted to take one to Lake Tahoe to paddle where I lived. All the boards I tried were obviously for surfing and not for paddling on flatwater. They turned too far with every stroke, were very slow, and didn’t have anywhere near enough capacity to bring my dog paddling with me. That’s when I knew I would have to create a board that is for touring and not surfing.
What ignited the spark in you to get involved in the industry?
Having a background in engineering and design, I also had been working on a lot of creative projects with my snowboard apparel brand. So I wanted to continue to merge those skills. The passion for paddling was now there and I needed a better board to take advantage of the water that I had sitting right in front of me — Lake Tahoe. When I was conceptualizing the Tahoe SUP brand and how I wanted it to facilitate the enjoyment of paddling boarding on flatwater, that was the spark.
How important have good employees been to your success?
Very important. We are a small company so everyone wears many hats. I’m lucky to work with a very dynamic group of people.
If you had a chance to start your company over again, what would you do differently?
Know more about the business side of things.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
In the past we had a lot of production issues. Not enough boards and issues with factories. So I decided to create our own patented construction process and set up our own factory. This involved me living in Asia for almost 2 years, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!
How many hours a day do you work on average, and what does your typical day look like?
Depends what time of year and what’s going on. Busy season 12+ — off season 8-10. Emails, phone calls, marketing, design, production.
What motivates you, and who has been your greatest inspiration?
Innovation and creating products that allow for greater enjoyment of the outdoor world is very motivating to me. I get inspired daily by anyone who is attempting to push the boundaries of what is believed to be possible. From extreme athletes pushing their physical abilities to our own team of ambassadors who are establishing their new normal lifestyles focused around paddle boarding and enjoying time on the water.
How do you define success?
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the SUP industry?
Paddling and spending time on the water with friends is the greatest benefit.
Where do you see the paddleboarding industry in 10 years? 20 years?
I see the sport becoming more and more family / adventure oriented vs. surf / race.