I recently caught up with Zed Skimboards owner Jeff Zamluk and chatted with him about his recent 2nd place for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award through the Victoria Chamber of Commerce! He talks about his recent success and his other companies Swell Source and Cascadia Board Co.
BW: Well well well, congratulations on being the runner up for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur of the year award!! So stoked for ya buddy, how do you feel? I couldn’t believe that a ‘Young Entrepreneur’ went up to 35 year old… at 26 you’ve got lots of time to get the top spot! I was sure stoked to be there to experience the whole thing with ya, it’s amazing how your entrepreneurial pursuits started with Zed Skimboards. What sort of valuable business skills do you believe you learned through Zed?
JZ: Hey Bdizzle. Thanks for the kind words! Everything started with Zed way back in 1998 when I was 14. It came from a passion of building skimboards, which ultimately led to building other products through Cascadia and Swell Source. Zed taught me a lot through trial and error and every summer, it still does. Everything is always changing and it makes the people involved quick on their feet, including myself. It also taught me that there’s more to a business than passion; you can have a heap of passion but if you are sleeping on the streets it’s not really a viable option. I’ve also been lucky to have a solid support network of friends and family surrounding me. The Island Skim Session is a testament to that. Everyone helps out just to have a good time because they believe in what Zed stands for and what the skimboarding lifestyle is. To me Zed is a school, a dream, a girlfriend, an experiment, and a mentor… pretty deep stuff eh? Haha!
BW: So tell everyone what companies you now own and what they’re all about. How many people do you employ now?
JZ: The parent company is Swell Source, which is a contract manufacturing company. We build different products for different brands around the world. Some brands we can talk about… some brands we can’t. It’s pretty exciting and I get to make people’s creative dreams become a reality in a product (and my own). Zed Skimboards is a h-core flatland skim company and my true passion, Cascadia Board Co is Canada’s only and first full service water sports company. We build everything from Surfboards, to SUP’s, to wake product under the Cascadia Label.
We’ve also got Bagless BC (which is an environmental initiative). It was another passion that led into a nice little environmental initiative to reduce single use plastic bags. It was a fun project with some great partners, but it’s winding down now… I have another social movement project I’d like to work on when then time is right.
We’ve got a tight crew of super talented crew of guys who are passionate about board sports. They are all doing great things for the brand, they include myself (doing the product design (with riders) and admin) Alex Haro (branding extraordinaire) Aarron Lepin (Sales Manager- Action sport) and a whole host of great subcontractors, artists, techies, photographers, and of course the token engineers. Credit also has to go out to everyone that surrounds the brands. Their energy makes these brands what they are and they know how to keep us positive when we’re stressing out.
BW: Which company is your favourite?
JZ: Zed, straight up.
JZ: Cascadia Board Co. was developed as a full service water sports company while Zed is Skimboards, straight up. Within Cascadia, we offer 3 models of wood skimboards and 3 models of foam skimboards. Zed and Cascadia are targeting two completely different markets with the two brands. Zed boards are as good as skimboards can get, while Cascadia boards are toned down for the weekend warrior (no base, more flex, different glues etc.). That being said, the Cascadia boards are no dollar store cheepy China crap either, all the R and D that went into Zed was used in the Cascadia boards. In sum, Cascadia is for the beginner/novice rider while Zed is for the pro’s
BW: What new things do you see Zed doing in the future?
JZ: We’ve always pushed Zed to the limits of board production. This year we’re really excited about the Zed 3D 2.0 and we’re hoping to build on it’s success next year making a few more models of boards that are similar but playing with the contours etc. When we were the first company to add full traction to flatland skimboards back in 2002 we automatically started looking at ways we could play with that. Now, we know how to contour the top sheets creating a skateboard feel on a skimboard. It’s going to change the game. I’m always looking for new an innovative ways to get our riders a more high performance boards so keep an eye out in the future, a few of our team riders are ripping on experimental boards right now.
BW: What new things do you see Cascadia doing in the future?
JZ: What’s stoking me out pretty good right now is our new line of wake products. We really got into wake surf and wake skims this past season. People are stoked on it, we’re stoked on it, and it’s just generally a rad sport! The sport is still in its infancy, so we can take the board building skills learned from the other sports we manufacture and apply them to the wake line-up. We’ve had some awesome results and in turn, great sales! Watch for Cascadias cruising at your local lake this summer! Be warned!
JZ: That’s a tough one. I really like to innovate and create, and wherever I see an opportunity I like to go after it. This past season, we manufactured some amazing snowboards for a brand as well as promotional snowboards for every major liquor company in Canada. Through this I’ve developed a relationship with some solid snowboard producers and suppliers. It’s something I’ve kicked around for a long time, but it takes a lot of energy. I’ve told myself, I’m not going to do it until I find the right person to head it up. However, after 15 years of riding and lots of close contacts within the industry, it would seem that it’s a natural evolution…we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
BW: Pretty unreal stuff you’ve got rolling dude, I’m very happy for you and your continued success! I’m looking forward to getting out on some of those Cascadia wake skates and sooner than later! Thanks a lot for chatting with me and I’ll probably see ya in a few hours for a beer! haha.