Business built on a world of waves
A BUSINESS built on a world of waves and an insatiable appetite for adventure, arguably first triggered by the 1966 surf movie Endless Summer, has grown up.
World Surfaris, which operates its global operations from Mooloolaba, celebrated its 21st birthday yesterday with a party to commission its new boardroom.
Former Macquarie banker John Finlay bought into the business four and a half years ago after booking a World Surfaris' holiday to the Maldives and bought out founder Shaun Leving two years ago.
The company now offers surf holidays to 65 destination globally, almost all to warm water places, with John laughing there was not much demand for those that require a five or six millimetre wetsuit.
"We offer choice without being a supermarket," he said. "We only represent good, value-for-money destinations. In this business customers can talk to someone who has been to every destination and knows what it's like."
'Wherever you dream of surfing' is the World Surfaris' promise, which John said captured its customers' enduring Endless Summer aspirations.
And he is adamant the dream of uncrowded waves has not turned into a nightmare, having just returned from the Telos break in the Mentawi Island chain off Sumatra where he enjoyed sessions with only one other person in the water.
Places like Papua New Guinea also have wave management plans in place that restrict the number of people in the water at the one time to improve the experience.
"It can be done," John said. "And it's why we are 21 and are looking to be 22."
The company employs 15 people out of its Mooloolaba headquarters, including adviser and big wave ride David Scard and former multiple world masters champion and world tour competitor Gary Elkerton.
John may have come out of the cutthroat world of investment banking, but that's not an approach he tolerates in a business he found after looking for one he liked when he moved to the Sunshine Coast eight years ago.
"When I first got into the business I banned use of the word 'punter' to describe clients," he said.
"Our clients aren't punters who speculate on a bet. They know what they get with us."