Hurley International


Surfwear and wetsuit company founded in 1998, and based in Costa Mesa, California; purchased by Nike in 2002. Company founder Bob Hurley, an accomplished surfboard shaper, began his surfwear retail career with Hurley Surfboards in 1978; in 1983 he acquired the Billabong USA license and helped the Australian company carve out a huge retail marketshare in the United States. In 1998 Hurley declined to renew his contract with Billabong and launched Hurley International as a clothing brand with men’s, women’s, and kid’s lines. It was a roll of the dice. Billabong USA had generated $60 million in revenue in 1997, and along with Quiksilver was a household name in surfwear.

Yet Hurley, probably the best-liked exec in the surf business, was uniquely well-positioned to capitalize on the surf industry’s boom of the late 1990s; his staff was hardworking and loyal, the product line was forward and stylish if a bit safe, and Hurley himself—wielding his considerable personal charm in tandem with his checkbook—signed a talented group of team riders including Rob Machado, the Malloy brothers, Tim Curran, and Pat O’Connell. As a marketing bonus, the young company also supported Blink-182, a San Diego pop-punk band that exploded onto the MTV scene in 1999, often appearing on stage decked-out in Hurley T’s and hats. Hurley also sponsored some of the largest, most successful contests on the pro tour, including the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, and the Hurley Pro at Trestles.

Sportwear empire Nike acquired Hurley International as a wholly owned subisidiary for a reported $120 million, with Bob Hurley left in place to run the organization. The deal was front page business news in Southern California and was immediately controversial in the surf world -- the Los Angeles Times said that in surfer’s eyes the merger was “about as welcome as a wipeout.” Nike’s initial forays into the boardsports world had been met with a lukewarm reception among surfers over the years, suspicious of outside, non-surf-centric brands. Nevertheless, a decade later Hurley International had maintained its core support among surfers worldwide, and with Nike’s help, established corporate offices in Australia, Japan, Spain, and Bali.

Hurley's popular Phantom Boardshorts line was named "boardshort of the year" four years running by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, starting in 2008.

Hurley International had $252 million in reported revenue in 2011.