April 6 Brand Journalism In the Press PR Northern Ireland

Ricky Martin of the Skunkworks Surf Co, left with Darren McDowell of Harbison Mullholland, centre, and Chris Martin, right

Siblings and surfboards – Skunkworks brothers to speak at Family Business Forum


THERE are lots of projects happening at Skunkworks Surf Co right now but Ricky and Chris Martin will be taking time out of the factory to join a panel of business people to speak at the next NI Family Business Forum.

On April 24, the two surfing brothers who are revolutionising the surfboard industry will speak to an audience at ‘Meet The Family – The Chairmen of the Board’ at the Europa Hotel.

With the focus of ‘Meet The Family’ centred on leading and motivating staff in the unique setting of a family firm, the brothers will tell their story about what’s it’s like to be brothers in business and explain how they approach managing the people who form part of the Skunkworks team.

Ricky Martin is the owner of Alive Surf School in Portrush. While he and his brother Chris were carrying out the annual chore of mending broken foamies, to prepare for the season ahead, the brothers knew there must be a way to make surfboards which can stand the test of time and the test of waves.

That moment in Ricky’s garage has led the brothers, from Coleraine, to where they are today – directors of Skunkworks Surf Co.  Together they are now leading a team of engineering, shaping and sales and marketing teams who manufacture and distribute Skunkies across the globe.

Rickay and Chris Martin of Skunkworks Surf Co with Darren McDowell from Harbison Mullholland

Chris Martin said: “Traditionally the term family business refers to a parent handing a business down to their children. Our family business is different in that we are two brothers who share a passion for surfing and manufacturing. We just happened to have a bit of a brainwave one day which has led to us starting a business which is creating employment, empowering new skills for a new workforce and we are now distributing our surfboards to surf schools globally.

“Not only that but we are working with sustainable products so our focus is about contributing to a sustainable environment, job creation, growth and profitability.”

Skunkworks Surf Co is a business that inspires, takes the lead and shines the light for other entrepreneurs who are breaking the mould in terms of the traditional meaning of ‘family business’.

Darren McDowell, Partner of Harbinson Mulholland (HM) and Chairman of the NI Family Business Forum said, “A good business is built on the back of like-minded people coming together to get behind a common purpose.  Family bonds are immensely powerful in this equation. Our work with Catalyst Inc in Belfast underlines the importance of family businesses at all stages in our economy.

“A new generation of family businesses is emerging right under our noses, and, in due course, they will become the mature businesses of our future.  Nurturing a new generation of family businesses is critical to our long term success in Northern Ireland and something we at HM are very much behind.

“Skunkworks Surf Co represents this emerging crop of new, successful first generation family firms. They also break the mould of the more traditional family business scenario with a paternal figurehead at the top of the business with the children in line to succeed their parents. For family businesses, like Skunkworks, it’s expansion and growth rather than succession that is their main priority.”

The brothers will undoubtedly be a fascinating addition to the programme for the next NI Family Business Forum. During their session; “Meet the Family – the Chairmen of the Board”, Ricky and Chris will talk about their entrepreneurial journey, the dynamics of working together, their approach to creating a happy and productive workplace and how they protect the culture and values of their business as it grows.

To register and secure your place visit www.nifamilybusinessforum.com



Notes To Editor:

  • The Skunkworks Surf Co was established in October 2013 by two brothers – Ricky and Chris Martin to design and manufacture the ‘next generation’ surfboards. The Skunkworks Surf Co is based in Coleraine. The company strives to make the most robust, high performance surfboards and stand up paddle boards in the world.
  • For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 or contact Joanne McNeill for further information about the event by emailing joanne@mcneillcommunications.co.uk

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