Industry News

3 Runs With Volcom's Global SVP of Product, Dutch Schultz

November 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Like most of us, combining passion and profession is the ultimate perk but for Dutch Schultz, who has been in the industry for 20 plus years, an alternative career was not even an option in his eyes.  Now that’s passion.

Did you know Volcom was started on a snowboarding trip in South Tahoe in 1991, initially launching with men’s sportwear? Well, now you do. Read on for more fun facts and Dutch’s outlook on our season ahead and what Volcom (and other brands) must do to achieve longevity. 

Where did you grow up? When/where did your passion for snowboarding first start?

I grew up in Southern California and similar to a lot of people from the area, I had my first experience snowboarding in Mammoth. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have family and friends that enjoyed going up there regularly so that’s where it started. I also spent a good amount of time in Big Bear; during the early days of snowboarding the resorts there were some of the most progressive and it had a powerful impact on the momentum and lifestyle aspect of snowboarding. We had a lot of fun those days and it’s neat to see the amount of people in still around in the industry that were on the hill everyday back then. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the snow sports industry? Or was the industry always a part of you?

I don’t have a good answer for that in terms of an alternative career. I am fortunate enough to have been in this industry starting with my very first job and have not changed industries since.  This business has been very good to me both personally and professionally.  I met my wife through the industry, as she worked with a major snowboard publication, and most of my closest friends have careers in the industry as well.  I travel frequently and in speaking with people outside our industry, one thing that always strikes me is how intrigued others are in what we do and they always convey how lucky we are.  Having the ability to combine your professional path with your lifestyle and personal interests is very rare and I never try to lose site of that. 


 How do you see SIA as a resource for your business?

As we all know, sustaining profitable business models within this industry is not an easy task given the challenges all of us face. Whether it is the impact of weather inconsistencies and/or economic challenges, the environment requires organizations to have resources that can be leveraged.  I have a strong opinion that as a trade we need to be the benchmark for alignment and efficiency given the impact of specific uncontrollable factors previously mentioned.  Let’s control what we can.  That being said, SIA is and should continue to be a required resource for all in this industry.  From data provision and analysis, to driving committee and member involvement to address continuous key issues, to providing an environment where companies can showcase their global brand and product directions with the tradeshow. SIA is the hub in the wheel to our industry.  We also have the advantage to leverage multiple categories and relationships within snow sports through not only snowboard, but alpine, free ski, Nordic, softgoods, hardgoods, accessories, etc…  SIA allows us to share these resources and leverage them.  

How long has Volcom been in the industry? How have you seen the industry change?

Volcom was started in 1991, actually on a snowboarding trip in Lake Tahoe initially launching with men’s sportswear. 1996 was the first year we started producing and selling outerwear.  In looking back at that first catalog, I must say we have come a long way.   

In terms of industry change, yes there has been quite lot during this time period, so much we probably don’t have enough time to discuss all of it.  To me there are two important changes that I have witnessed over the last 20 plus years.  One is the transition from short to long term thinking of our industry as we have gone through the initial peaks that any new industry goes through to the valleys that tend to follow.  I look at the successful brands that are still around and the common denominator is all have matured their business philosophies and strategies.  The bottom line is just as important as top line growth moving forward.  Inventory management and market saturation are now areas being addressed and business decisions are being made to create healthier long-term opportunities for both manufacturers and retailers.  The industry has continued to improve its long-term approach in order to secure a healthier future.  Another key shift that I see as very important is the approach to technical product development in both hardgoods and softgoods.  Current snowboard-specific product can now compete head to head with other technical products within other industries in terms of innovation, quality and consumer benefit.  True R&D is a standard business practice now more then ever and this will be a key factor in positioning our industry health moving forward.  The key to longevity is offering the consumer an experience that is memorable and ensuring they come back for more, and product experience is key to this.  Our industry has done a good job adapting its approach and maturing since the very beginnings.  

 Have these changes influenced how you connect with the consumer?

Absolutely, along with our industry the consumer has become a lot savvier. We are spending a lot more time on communicating our product messaging through various channels and our brand continues be more defined by the product in which we offer to the consumer.  

As we head into the 2015-16 season, what outlook do you have on our industry and your brand? How can we all work together better?

As most in our industry, I am optimistic about the upcoming future.  As stated prior, we are doing a much better job in controlling what we can control so we are prepared for what is not.  In terms of working together, my opinion is that is all about alignment.  We are too small of an industry to have fragmentation.  We need to continue to create an environment where manufacturers and retailers have an efficient platform to conduct business where is it profitable and makes sense to operate within. If we continue to fine-tune this approach and further alignment, we will be prepared for the rest.


Check out other SIA Board Member Interviews: 

Rhonda Swenson, Krimson Klover
Annelise Loevlie, Icelantic Skis
Dan (Sully) Sullivan, Rome Snowboards 

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