Retailer Spotlight with Noel Woods from Beachbeat, Queensland Retailer of the Year
“Taking the time to step back and look and listen is so important and the staff you have can make or break you.”
Beachbeat is an institution on the Sunshine Coast, Al Hing and Kingsley “Knackers” Kernouski first opening the doors in Caloundra in 1986. Surfboards have always been at the core of the business and thousands have been produced over the years, but Beachbeat has evolved into a complete surf retailer and won Queensland retailer of the Year at this year’s Surf Industry Awards.
Reggae Elliss caught up with Noel Woods, one of the partners, to get his take on surf retail and running a successful business
Beachbeat won the Queensland Retailer of the Year at the Surf Industry Awards in June. How’d did you feel when you knew you’d had won?
It was a good feeling knowing the companies and customers who voted for us thought we deserved it. Dealing with all our sales reps individually you develop a lot of different types of relationships with them and the companies they represent. When you break it down we all share the same passion and that is what always shines through.
It’s a competitive industry and an accolade like that acknowledges you are doing things right. What do you think makes a good surf retailer?
Being hands on makes a huge difference. Taking the time to step back and look and listen is so important and the staff you have can make or break you. They are the ones who see the trends and changes, so asking their opinions always helps.
The business started almost 30 years ago – what are the secrets to such longevity?
Letting your passion shine through your business. If you treat it with the same enthusiasm you do a hobby, it will rub off on your staff and your customers. Also, be prepared to change your business to suit the climate – as we all know, the goal posts are always moving.
I had a look at your website, which is pretty good, by the way, but it seems your key staff are all long-time personnel as well. Any tips on finding and retaining quality staff?
We always joke that “you never leave Beachbeat” and it’s true many of our staff have been there for over 20 years. All our staff treat the business like it is their own so their input is invaluable. Everybody’s input is considered when making decisions and as an employer you must be fair. Treat people how you want to be treated.
Surfboards have been a core part of the business since the beginning and you carry a wide range of boards. How important are boards to the business ?
The surfboards reflect who we are and why we got into this industry. Being able to manufacture boards as well as sell them is very exciting to all of us. You learn something new everyday about board design, fins, volumes, etc. and that is a driving force we love. Even our glassers, who have been in the industry over 40 years, get excited when an interesting glass job comes in and they have to take the time to figure it out. The surfboard’s development is limitless.
The surf industry’s been through it’s up and downs, particularly in the past eight or nine years. How do you see things panning out over the next five years?
We all know the push the major wholesalers have had into retail. But they have also had their ups and downs. I think we need each other to grow and they are realising it also. For the first time in a long time the companies are asking what can we do to help your business grow and seem prepared to be more flexible in the way we both do business. With us all working together, I do see a positive future although I think things will remain steady over the next 12 months.
“For the first time in a long time the companies are asking what can we do to help your business grow and seem prepared to be more flexible in the way we both do business.”
The Sunshine Coast attracts a lot of people and the population continues to increase each year. What changes have you seen over the years?
As our coast grows and people discover what we have all known for the last 40 years, you have to think sometimes it is a little over loved. The population projections over the next 20 years are a bit scary. The clientele is forever changing, as are the surfers. I am not one to sit on my hands and reminisce about the old days I am going along for the ride and planning my next surf trip.
Noel Woods, Beachbeat founder and co-owner