Becker Surf co-founder Dave Hollander led surfing through its retail ‘Golden Era’

by Kevin Cody

Dave Hollander’s first surf job was on the Bing Surfboard manufacturing facility on Surfboard Row (Cypress Avenue) in Hermosa Seashore. The placing pinstriping work on the storage boards the 15-year-old had made had landed him the job. His mother, Joanne, dropped him off.

When his mother picked him up on the finish of the day he advised her, “Sometime, I’m going to personal that place.”

Twelve years later, Hollander known as his mother and requested, “Do you keep in mind what I advised you after my first day at work?”

“A mom by no means forgets these issues,” his mom answered.

He advised her, “Phil, and Steve, and I simply signed a lease.’”

Phil was shaper Phil Becker. Steve was glasser Steve Mangiagli. The lease was for a former laundromat on Pier Avenue in downtown Hermosa, the place in 1980 the three would open the primary Becker Surf Store.


Steve Mangiagli and Dave Hollander in 2010 at their Hermosa Surf store, shortly earlier than they bought Becker Surf to Billabong. Photograph by Mike McIntire


Hollander recalled the story in 2009 when he was offered with the Lifetime Achievement Award on the Financial institution of Manhattan Entrepreneur Awards Dinner. The next 12 months, trade conglomerate Billabong would purchase Becker Surf (although not the affiliated Mangiagli Glassing) for an undisclosed quantity.

By then, Hollander had turn out to be one among browsing’s most revered enterprise leaders. He managed seven Southern California Becker Surf shops, and 170 workers. was second in gross sales solely to Pacific Sunwear, a billion greenback firm with 800 retail shops. In 2000, “Transworld Surf” named Hollander one of many surf trade’s seven most influential folks. (The others had been Quiksilver president Bob McKnight, Pacific Sunwear president Tim Harmon, Volcom president Richard Woolcott, Billabong USA president Paul Naude, and Surf Board Retailers Affiliation Director Roy Turner.) 

“Dave would let you know he wasn’t a gifted athlete. However he knew easy methods to get precedence. So he all the time received extra waves than anybody else. He was the identical in enterprise. Dave might see what was coming earlier than everybody else,” Hollander’s longtime good friend,  and Becker Surf legal professional Kent Burton stated this week.


A Bing pintail with pinstriping by Dave Hollander from the late 70s, when Hollander was a highschool scholar at Rolling Hills Excessive. The method, as described by Becker Surf glasser Steve Mangiagli, concerned taping off every pin line, making use of tinted resin with a paint brush, eradicating the tape, sanding down the resin, then taping off the following pinline, repeating the method for every colour.
  Hollander recalled engaged on the board in an electronic mail to Straightforward Reader in 2021: The board is pale after 50 years, as all the colours besides the black pin strains are resin tints. There was a ravishing blue tint, which has yellowed, and reveals now as a darkish inexperienced. The sunshine, yellowy orange was a extra vibrant orange, and the sunshine pink was a beautiful, clear pink (pink all the time fades probably the most)…. It took me about three months, working a bit every day after work within the manufacturing facility. By no means thought a lot of it (okay, actually regarded ahead to engaged on it every day) till it was completed, once I and others began saying “Wow.” Photograph courtesy of the Hollander household


Hollander handed away Friday, November 3, at his dwelling in Palm Springs, after a decade-long combat with most cancers. He was 72.

Along with uncanny foresight, the tall, blond Hollander additionally benefited from his affable character, Burton stated.

“When requested by restaurant hosts if we had reservations, Dave would reply, ‘Completely none. We’re wanting ahead to eating right here.’”

Throughout his final weeks, when a health care provider requested to take his vitals, Hollander responded, ‘Will I get them again?’”

Burton, whose workplace was just a few doorways up the road from Becker Surf’s Pier Avenue store, met Hollander in 1993, after sending him a stop and desist letter. Burton’s shopper was a rival surf store that claimed unique gross sales rights to a board model Becker had marketed.

“Dave known as and requested the authorized foundation for my argument. I admitted I didn’t actually have one. Then he stated, he didn’t actually wish to promote the disputed boards, anyway. And by the best way, did I play volleyball? We performed each weekend at twenty fourth Avenue for the following 15 years, till Dave moved to the desert.”

“Phil, Steve and Dave had been an ideal workforce,” recalled longtime Becker Surf worker Fred Williams. “Should you requested Phil how the long run seems to be, he’d say, ‘I don’t know. We is likely to be out of enterprise tomorrow.’ Ask Steve and he’d let you know the best way it was. Ask Dave, and he’d say, ‘We’re going to overcome the world.’”

“All three had been workhorses. Phil would arrive on the manufacturing facility at 7 a.m. and never go away ‘til 7 p.m. And Steve arrived forward of Phil. Dave would have bought his home to save lots of the enterprise,” Williams stated.

“We every put up $8,000, and agreed if there was a dispute it will be resolved by majority vote,” Hollander advised Straightforward Reader in a 2004 interview. “Over the following 30 years, we had two votes. Phil misplaced each of them. One was in regards to the title.  

“‘Davey, are you aware how bizarre it’s to see your title on folks’s T-shirts,’ Phil as soon as advised me. On the time we had been promoting 10,000 Becker T-shirts a 12 months,” Hollander stated.

“The opposite dispute was about whether or not or to not purchase a brand new store van. Phil didn’t suppose we would have liked one,” Hollander stated. “He was so frugal, he wouldn’t flip you for a nickel, and paid money for every little thing.” 

Becker formed. Mangliagi glassed. Hollander, after a 12 months of pinstriping, and managing the shop, skilled Jose Barahona to do his manufacturing facility work, and targeted on the shop. (Barahona right this moment is one among Surfboard Row’s most revered shapers.)

Hollander understood the significance of “defending the core” earlier than the phrase was invented. He staffed Becker’s seven shops with surf-stoked salespeople for whom work was as a lot a way of life as a livelihood. The three companions steadfastly resisted pleas from buying middle builders to franchise the Becker title.

“I spotted way back,” Hollander stated within the 2004 Straightforward Reader interview, “that if Becker received too large, we’d lose what we’re all about, which is a household of workers and prospects with a bit of manufacturing facility that makes surfboards. Folks need that form of authenticity and it’s more durable and more durable to search out anymore.” 

To retain good folks, Hollander established a beneficiant bonus program and hosted worker surf journeys.

To provide his shops a signature look that was neither too slick, nor too shoddy, Hollander enlisted 16-year-old Brian Bent. The self-taught people artist hung work and assemblages within the shops for over twenty years, whereas establishing himself as a preeminent surf artist.

Hollander’s anticipation of traits was so widely known that surf attire corporations would monitor Becker Surf gross sales earlier than deciding on the next season’s strains.

Mangiagli recalled how Hollander resolved the nagging surf store drawback of attire reps preventing over flooring house.

“Dave convened a gathering of the reps and advised them they’d every get assigned flooring house. And the extra they bought, the extra flooring house they’d get. It made the reps work actually exhausting,” Mangiagli stated.

When “Blue Crush” got here out in 2002, Mangiagli recalled, Hollander created a girls’s part of their shops, with boards Becker formed for ladies. Gross sales boomed.

Hollander was equally adept at responding to the trade’s frequent downturns. 


The Rick Surf crew in 1973 sporting the brand new O’Neil Animal Pores and skin wetsuit (left to proper) sander Bobby Jensen, sizzling coater Greg Rousseau, pinstriper Dave Hollander, Fred Schumaker, glasser Steve Mangiagli,  Lisa Simns, Phil Becker (seated in his woodie), store grom Joe Colella, Clem Camou, shaper Ray Lucke, and Bruce Johnson.


Within the late ‘90s, when surfboard gross sales stalled as a result of the skinny “potato chip” boards popularized by professional surfers made browsing troublesome for rookies, Becker Surf partnered with Straightforward Reader and Chevron El Segundo to start out the Chevron Surf Camp. A mean of 400 children discovered to surf on the camp each summer season over the following three a long time. (Lately the camp has been directed by coach Vince Ray, and administered by the Metropolis of Hermosa Seashore.)

Mangialgi famous that Becker Surf’s greatest promoting board was the LC-3 (Lance Carson 3-fin), a straightforward to experience mid-length board. 

“The LC-3 was the Wavestorm of its day,” Mangiagli stated. (The delicate high Wavestorm right this moment is the world’s greatest promoting surfboard as a result of, just like the LC-3, it’s simple to experience.)

Much more difficult to the surf trade than the cyclical financial downturns was the 2005 closure of Clark Foam, attributable to State environmental rules. Surfer journal underscored the magnitude of the disaster with a headline that requested, “Is that this the top of the customized surfboard?” 

Clark Foam equipped an estimated 80 to 90 p.c of the froth blanks used within the manufacturing of surfboards, worldwide. Becker’s manufacturing facility formed and glassed 5,000 boards yearly, all with Clark Foam blanks. 

Hollander, in a letter to workers, penned at 4 a.m. the morning after Clark’s closure, wrote, “You do the mathematics. There are not any different blanks obtainable on this planet.”

Then he laid out an audacious plan.

“We’re Becker Surfboards. We  want Becker Surfboards in our shops to be who we’re. As it would take six months, simple, to both ramp up new manufacturing, or discover one other supply for our boards, we’ve got to make these 800 we  have final for six months.”  

Attire, and equipment account for many of surf retailer revenues. However surfboards are the bellringers that carry prospects within the door.

Fortuitously, by 2005 Becker was now not dependent completely on retailer gross sales. A decade earlier, Hollander had foreseen the affect ecommerce would have on retail. 

“On a foggy day, one among our retail shops won’t have 40 guests. But it surely’s by no means foggy in our on-line world. And when you stay in New York and it’s winter, it’s exhausting to discover a bikini on your journey to the Bahamas. However you could find one on-line,” Hollander stated within the 2004 Straightforward Reader interview.

Hollander would additionally credit score with saving his firm throughout the COVID pandemic retail closures.

Hollander discovered the significance of attire and equipment previous to co-founding Becker Surf, when he, Becker and Mangiagli had been making boards for Rick Surf, and an Australian named Bob McKnight stopped by the Pacific Coast Freeway store together with his automobile trunk full of Quiksilver board shorts.

“Unbeknownst to us, browsing attire was about to take off. O’Neil had simply began permitting retailers to promote their wetsuits, and Michael Thompson was about to observe McKnight over from Australia together with his Gotcha board shorts,” Hollander recalled. Till then, surf retailers bought boards, wax, leashes, sandals, and never a lot else.

Twenty years later, when Hollander was growing the Becker web site, McKnight would once more encourage Hollander, although this time inadvertently.

By then McKnight’s Quiksilver’s $1.3 billion in annual gross sales made it browsing’s largest attire firm. However McKnight was dismissive of ecommerce. In 2000, McKnight advised the trade bible TransWorld Surf, “I don’t know when you keep in mind this, however the SIMA (Browsing Trade Producers Affiliation) Surf Summit just a few years in the past was all about web and web gross sales, and I simply went, ‘F… that! We have to take care of the retailers.’”

Outwardly, Becker Surf appeared equally wedded to browsing’s Luddite tradition. Phil Becker, like a modern-day John Henry, refused to make use of a shaping machine. He used three Rockwell planers, all purchased in 1965, and periodically rebuilt, to form an estimated 130,000 surfboards over his profession.

“They’re nice for doing 300 or 400 similar boards,” Becker stated of shaping machines. “However they stifle creativity and I don’t wish to compromise. Each surfer is totally different and each wave is totally different, so each board must be totally different,” he stated in a 2005 Straightforward Reader interview.

In the course of the 4 years previous McKnight’s dismissal of ecommerce, Hollander had been quietly growing After listening to McKnight’s remark, it wasn’t exhausting for Hollander to persuade McKnight to offer him unique ecommerce rights to Quiksilver’s widespread attire.

Hollander’s choice to develop was as a lot private as enterprise pushed.

“I felt like I had been doing the identical factor endlessly and the web was like a brand new pool toy for me,” he stated on the time.

“The surf trade, being as archaic as it’s, is leery of the web. And the individuals who do imagine within the web don’t know retail. Everyone seems to be following the Amazon mannequin, which says you’ll be able to solely promote simple to market stuff like books, movies, board luggage and surf leashes.

“The favored knowledge was that fashions change too rapidly for web websites to maintain up. However we’re use to that in retail. We have now to foretell fashions,” Hollander stated.

Hollander even put bikinis on-line, regardless of realizing bikini consumers to be the world’s pickiest buyers. In the course of the 2004 Straightforward Reader interview he printed out a gross sales report that confirmed 4 bikini gross sales inside the previous hour and a half – all to Hermosa residents who lived inside blocks of Becker’s flagship retailer. 

“The pundits additionally stated on-line shops had to make use of low bandwidth, dial-up strains as a result of not sufficient folks had DSL. However I knew Becker’s prospects would need a high quality website that solely broadband can present, and I knew our prospects are prosperous sufficient to have broadband of their properties.”

Mangiali stated had the benefit of seven shops that served as warehouses. A truck ran between the shops, and a 20,000 sq.ft. success middle in Torrance. 

One other benefit of, Hollander stated, was it helped protect his firm’s core identification with surfers.

“ permits us to promote all around the world with out having to open so many new places that we’d be bastardizing the Becker mystique,” he stated. “Our retail shops are our coronary heart and soul and might be so long as Phil, Steve and myself are on this earth.” 


Becker Surf co-founder Dave Hollander receiving the Financial institution of Manhattan Lifetime Achievement award. Presenting the award had been Financial institution of Manhattan’s Kevin Campbell and Jeff Watson. Photograph by Kevin Cody

Shortly earlier than his loss of life, Hollander recalled the Becker Surf years as browsing’s second “Golden Period.”

“Main Becker retail and on-line was simply nothing wanting a fairytale,’ he stated. “Businesswise, you can do no unsuitable. It was that sizzling. The folks had been real, passionate, and dedicated to the life-style and the game. I can’t think about something like that ever occurring once more. It was simply such a novel set of circumstances, passions, and characters colliding.” 

“I imagine it’s over,” he stated. “Circumstances modified, the characters received outdated and moved on. I don’t imagine these true passions will ever exist once more.

Phil Becker handed away in 2021.

In September, realizing his finish was close to, Hollander couldn’t resist a remaining jibe at Mangiagli, the final surviving Becker Surf founder.

Hermosa Seashore Historic Museum director Jamie Erickson had despatched Hollander {a photograph} of a pinstriped knee board with a Rick laminate on its deck. 

Erickson wished to authenticate the board’s provenance, and requested if he had performed the pinstriping.

Hollander replied, “I used to be not concerned with this board. However for the reason that Rick laminate is so crooked, I’m guessing Steve Mangiagli was.” 

Dave Hollander is survived by his spouse Barbara, former spouse Sally, father Richard Roberts, sister Suzie Wright, kids Hailey and Jory, and grandkids Sonny and Bowie.

Companies haven’t but been scheduled. ER

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