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Johnny Schillereff of Element speaks out

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 12, 2013 8:30 AM

Editor’s note: Our goal at Shop-eat-surf is to share different views from people involved in the ongoing Billabong turmoil. Here are a few links to previous stories about the situation: Meet Acting Billabong Americas President Colin Haggerty, Industry back Paul Naude, Karen Sarver exits Billabong

One of the things I’ve been most curious about in the Billabong saga is how the other brands owned by Billabong have been navigating the company’s difficulties.

Element Founder Johnny Schillereff decided to speak publicly about the situation for the first time today.

Below, he answered some questions for me, including why he has stayed at Element despite the corporate problems.

With all the turmoil at Billabong, why do you stay with Element?

Johnny Schillereff and son, Camp, with the Element familyI've been with the brand since day one, why would I leave now with such big change coming around the corner? With more than 20 years of unwavering commitment to the brand, it's well worth seeing it through this particular phase.

Element needs me now more than ever in these challenging times. Intimate leadership, and my unconditional relationship with the brand are critical, especially now.

My relationships run deep with our staff and team riders. Our people need honest conversations, and consistent communication. They trust me, and these are the times to stand strong. I would have a hard time comprehending walking away from the Element family. These are the times when true commitment shows.

Lastly, people who know me well know I'm a communicator, deeply passionate about the brand, and our culture. The day Element loses its soul is the day I'm not involved. I'm confident we will flourish through this, and grow. It’s part of our journey.

Billabong has owned Element for about 12 years. Why is your role still important?

I think it's probably more important now than ever before. The founder’s role is critical to any brand with a story, and true authenticity. Without the backing, and participation of the very individuals who dreamed it all up, it's typically a scam. Hollister is a great example of that.

I've never understood the concept of buying someone’s business based on the opportunity that the founders built, then putting them in a corner with some crayons and not listening to them.

Fortunately, the Billabong organization has incredible founders who live and die by their brands, and they are being heard. Founders have nothing but the best intentions for their brands, and care deeply, why would anyone not want to channel that?

See Page 2 for Johnny's take on some positives that have come from all the changes

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