Core Careers: Quiksilver's Mike Reilly

Tom Carrol


We haven’t run one of our Core Careers pieces in quite some time, so we decided to kick off the new year with a career profile of Quiksilver’s Mike Reilly, the West Coast Sales Manager for Specialty Stores.

Mike has deep roots with Quiksilver – the brand sponsored him when he was a kid. He went to work for a variety of companies inside and outside the industry, and earned an MBA.

How did you first become involved with Quiksilver?

Mike Reilly: My first interaction with Quiksilver was while hanging out at Harbour Surfboards. I was a local surf rat watching Chas and Rich shape boards in the back of the shop and they had a good selection of Quik product. Also our local ripper Ryan Simmons rode for Quiksilver so most of us shop rats dreamed of riding for them.

Quksilver's Taylor Whisenand and Mike Reilly - Shop-eat-surf file photo

A few years later I was working at Inflight, which then became one of the first Quiksilver Boardriders Clubs so I got to work in that environment for a few years as well. Then I was lucky enough to be offered a grom sponsorship from Quiksilver when Danny Kwock was the head of marketing.

Fast forward quite a few more years and Quiksilver was my biggest account when I handled all the action sports retailers and brands at FedEx where I ran the apparel/action sports division. So it’s safe to say that I’ve been aligned with Quiksilver in some fashion since I was nine years old.

What jobs have you held at Quiksilver?

Mike Reilly: Rob Colby brought me in to help on the operations side of the business and over the course of my first four years at the company I ran many of the functions in operations which included logistics, trade compliance, sales tools, sales operations, customer service, international operations for DC and our custom boardshort program.

The most challenging and rewarding has been being involved on all the technology projects like SAP, B2B, sales force automation and our vendor portal. I really love the way technology can create efficiency and improve the customer experience. The challenge is it takes time to really get the leverage out of an IT investment but we’re starting to attain value from the investments.

Mike Reilly in action

I was lucky to have a functional expertise in both business development and supply chain due to tenures with Ports of America and FedEx prior to joining Quiksilver. After my stint in operations at Quiksilver, Taylor Whisenand, SVP of Specialty Sales, brought me over to run the West Coast Sales Team for specialty accounts for the Roxy and Quiksilver brands.

I handled all the surf shops for FedEx for seven years so it was great to get back into working with surf shops. I’ve been doing that for the last year and it has been a really great experience. It hasn’t come without challenges, but I feel blessed every time I get to go into a surf shop and look at boards, smell wax and work on providing solid product assortments while creating an epic customer experience.

How did your work at other companies help you in your job now?

Mike Reilly: I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had a myriad of jobs over my life in many different functions. My initial experience in retail and then my short pro surf career helped set the foundation and connection to the global surf culture in an intimate way. I used to work for Vipe Desai at his marketing agency and also when he ran the marketing at SMP, so I got four years of valuable marketing experience from one of the best.

Then I did the operations thing and ultimately ran a vertical market program for FedEx where my position was very entrepreneurial. I was able to develop strategic partnerships with SIMA, IASC, BRA and also do some cool marketing programs such as the Surfrider Celebrity Surf Jam presented by FedEx. Since I managed to a sales and margin goal, it often felt like I was running a small business.

Between these various experiences and getting my MBA, I was able to see how each decision affects multiple departments. And that is the ultimate thing that my experience has helped me with: seeing the whole picture and not just seeing my functional area and how it impacts that.


See Page 2 for what qualities Mike values in direct reports

What is your biggest challenge at work at the moment? How are you handling it?

Mike Reilly: For me, it’s managing time and resources while creating a thriving culture. I’ve learned over the years that hiring the right people and building a culture of results is critical in getting brands to thrive and not just survive. This is no easy task but the more transparent you are and the more you listen to your customers and employees, the better.

My daily goal is to listen to our staff, sales reps and our customers to see what they need to improve their experience and business. Then go back to the mother ship and work cross functionally to bring some of the needs to fruition so we can all be more successful.

Do you have a system for managing your email?

Mike Reilly: Between the phone calls, emails and meetings, it can often times feel like everyone is pointing a fire hose directly at you but I keep top customers and my boss’s email addresses on priority so they pop up instantly.

Mike Reilly and family

I also use the function of flagging in Outlook to prioritize and categorize emails throughout the day so nothing gets lost or dropped. When I’m on the road with reps I have my iPad on at all times and I try and solve issues and questions on the spot via our B2B tool and email back to my partners in the office. Real time execution to me is crucial to staying on top of everything and adding value to my reps and customers.

What qualities are the most important to you with your direct reports?

Mike Reilly: Hustle and being consultative. The harder we all work the more wins we will have. The more we consult our customers on what is selling at other locations or our own retail the more value we bring to the table.

That said, my team is amazing. We have the best rep force in the industry and they have been loyal to Quiksilver and Roxy for a long time. You don’t see the loyalty we have at Quiksilver at too many places. From Rob to Taylor on the management side to the reps: Glen Moncata, the Godfather of Quiksilver in Hawaii, Jay Lightburne, an awesome surfer and amazing merchant, Pat Artukovich, a 28-year Quik Vet and charger, Benny, your favorite rep and hustler, Jackie Goebel and Stacey Lima who make Roxy, Roxy. The list goes on. I am so proud of my team and lucky to have them on the squad.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Mike Reilly: Family is my No. 1 priority. I have four kids and enjoy every minute I get with them. Outside of that, surfing is a close second love and my favorite past time is taking our tent trailer to beaches up and down the coast. Any beach with waves and a spot for my tent trailer is what I dream about.

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