Article

A Job Interview

Balaram Stack and the empty space on the nose of his board

| posted on April 17, 2013

Balaram Stack lost the only main sponsor he'd ever known, but he's not showing any signs of that slowing him down. Photo: Frieden

Balaram Stack, New York’s 22-year-old surfing icon who was once a fundamental cog in Quik’s marketing machine, has reentered the market for a main sponsor. We caught up with him over a pizza pie that he claims is “nothing compared to Gino’s back home,” where he filled us in on his recent thoughts.

Did you see the knife coming?
There were a lot of cuts going on, but I didn’t see any faults or reasons for them to cut me. They have no team riders on the East Coast now, so I don’t know. But it sucks. It sucks to be with a company for your whole life, then you get a call and it’s done just like that. It wasn’t even a good send-off. There was no “See you later, you’ve been with us forever, it was a good run” or anything, it was just the call, done, over. My team manager, all he said was, “I don’t even know really what to say or do, I’m hoping I still have a job too. Hopefully one day we can have a beer and laugh about it.”

What will you take away from such a long relationship?
My whole surf career has been with Quiksilver; I’ve learned everything I know within the industry and professional surfing from them. Being on trips or at contests, all of it. When I first signed, it was like they were my family. They put me in the places I needed to be to be successful, whether it was contests or trips or anywhere in the world. I was able to see so many different places, people, and waves, so I definitely benefited from that.

Has this changed your outlook on a career as a pro at all?
Well, I won’t generalize the surf industry around this one company, but it does seem to be struggling. Still, I want to pursue pro surfing as much as I always have. You know, I’d like to be a traveling pro for as long as I can, see the world, get good waves, do trips and contests here and there. I mean, I had always thought Quik was kind of a lifetime deal. I was with them for seven years. To have this happen is a shock, but I’m just going to try and make sure that the next sponsor that I do get is long-term.

Did this remind you that you’re still an employee? Is that humbling?
The only time I ever consider surfing to be work is the promo stuff, but even that’s pretty fun. It is a job, and you still have to do what your sponsors tell you to do. I definitely feel like I have to work harder than ever, but I enjoy every minute of it. Surfing only goes so far, you can only be a pro for so long.

You do still have other side-sponsors, but for the sake of this interview, we’ll call you “unemployed.” What’s your résumé look like for a potential sponsor?
New York is a huge part of it. There aren’t many other guys coming from the East Coast, so that alone is an angle. There are a lot of things that factor in, but I had a good season in Hawaii, and put out a recent edit of what I’ve been doing. There are a lot of things to go with it. I just want to be at a company that’s like family, where there’s good opportunity and where they want me there as much as I do.

Does any of this affect your confidence and momentum?
Not at all. I’m still going to do what I do. I’m still going to try and chase the best waves and get the biggest barrels that I can. I mean, that’s pretty much all I can do in this situation.

[VIDEO] Balaram Stack doing pretty much all he can do in this situation.

  • Negative Norm

    I hope he (or Surfer Mag) doesn’t expect any of us normal, working stiffs to feel sorry for him. He should be thankful for every opportunity that Quiksilver gave him & leave it at that. Professional surfing seems like a bit of a scam. If you can pull it off for any bit of time, then you’ve won in my book.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I thought there was a guy called Kelly Slater from Florida who ride for Quiksilver

  • Boto Draggin’

    Man up.

  • http://Surfer Kimbo

    prehaps some counsseling for this poor man.

  • G spot

    Why isn’t Fisher Heverly getting this hype? Hes equally as good as Balaram, and from the east coast, and got dropped by Quik. No ones covering that.

  • Gary

    If he changed his name to Ram A Ballsack, he could get sponsored by Trojan.

  • Arron

    Stack is world calss. Make the west coast kids look bad just by being himself.
    He will succeed and move on in the surfing world. Keep charging

  • Jimmy the Saint

    If this was an interview he wouldn’t have got the job, let’s face it. Golden rule of interviews is don’t bad mouth your former employers. He could have come across as being thankful for seven years with a company which presumably treated him quite well. Also his bring from New York isn’t that big of a deal. There are a lot of free surfers out there and I really can’t see more than a few being that marketable. Not clear if he wants to go down the asp tour route, either. Considering there are guys on the tour who get dropped by their sponsors I don’t see how its cost effective sponsoring free surfers. Best of luck to him though, losing a job is a kick in the teeth, you’ll get over it and it’ll make you stronger. Just look at kekoas interview from last week…

  • David Lee Roth

    Who? Never even heard of this guy! Was he on the tour? Oh, he wasn’t. So, why would anyone sponsor this sap from the surf city of New York? Plenty of free riders out there, not a lot of places for promotion and ads to get your money’s worth if you’re a sponsor. Video clips? Big deal. See them everyday.

    I can’t believe he was given a free ride for 7 years. What did Quik get out of it? Ability to sell some knock-off boardies in Times Square?

  • Drew

    Time to dust off the old résumé. I would assume he will be picked up by another major label but the big question is, for how long?

  • Pirito

    “I had always thought Quik was kind of a lifetime deal. I was with them for seven years.” I cracked up when I read this. Really, you’re a freesurfer in an industry that’s at the pinnacle of commodity goods? I don’t have anything personal against the guy, but give me a break, dude. If you were expecting job security in this gig, wow, how naive were you. Brush up, shake it off, and good luck landing your next gig. But these interviews with pros really tell a lot about the bubble these folks live in. And I see it all the time here in San Diego.

  • Patrick

    “You know, I’d like to be a traveling pro for as long as I can, see the world, get good waves, do trips and contests here and there. ”

    HAHAHAHA welcome to the real world kid. You are not that special.

  • Hollywood

    Damn haters. This kid gets bombs at pipe you all dream about!

  • Mike

    All you knucklehead kooks that surf 1ft beach breaks leave you nasty comments on these mag pages like you know what your talking about. You do this to release your jealously. You’ll never be a pro surfer oh wait don’t even call yourselves surfers. Jerkoffs

  • kelly slater

    i like the ram a ballsack idea, or whatever that guy said

  • Sloppy Joe

    Hi Haters!
    This kid kills it – take a look at some of his pipe waves from the last couple years, not to mention his aerial assault is second to none. Keep drinking the california cool aid as the NY boy surfs circles around y’all

  • ???

    No reason to hate people… everyone loses a job and its a shitty thing for anyone… Balaram is a good kid and def. holds his own in the ocean, that is why Surfer helping the guy. However Gspot has a very good point… Why the hype? Fisher Heverly is in the same shoes, and def. surfs just as good!
    Clearly these young surfers need to realize theyre roll in the company that sponsors them… Obviously Quik wants guys to get results and make the CT… or if ur a freesurfer u kinda gotta be landing cover shots on the regular. The lifespan of a freesurfer is way shorter than a contest surfer… This is a real job… guys need to treat it that way… once u turn 18… ur kind of an Adult. unfortunately no free rides. Shame on Quik… not for firing Balaram… but for not planning theyre budget accordingly… Quik is still a mega company that handles mega money… they need make better forecasts of theyre budget… having that contest in NY w/ the largest prize purse EVER??? prob. didnt pay off hence the layoffs? just saying?

  • PR

    Not a lot of hateful comments as much as honest comments, nothing wrong with that.
    People are fired from their jobs every day without so much as a thank you. Yes Balaram did happen to love his job which makes him a very lucky person in this world.

    Remember, he is a very young man that has had only one job because of his amazing natural talent. I’m sure any one of us would react the same way given the circumstances and his age. On the other hand its difficult to have any sort of empathy for him considering his profession.

    In the end, its not about East vs West, its about a talented young man dealing with a quickly changing industry. The surf culture is the best, the surf industry is a bit of a joke. You’ve got to be able to adapt at a moments notice especially in an environment such as Quiksilver which has always been one of questionable ethics and accountability. Being a Friend of Bob just doesn’t cut it any more does it boys?
    Balaram will be just fine.

  • Mick

    They are stupid… Ive seen quik stickers popping up left and right on kids boards in S.FL and none of them rip as hard as Balaram. Fk it youll get another one. Also I think that NY contest did screw them up. Whatever… put on a Billabong shirt

  • Mick

    Why would anyone want to sponsor a spoiled rich kid from NY who hasn’t even proved himself in a major WQS contest. Im sorry but SURFERMAG why don’t you interview someone who actually has a proven track record …….Raoni Montiero, Mason Ho, Richard Christie, Stuart Kennedy to name a few. Oh yea and your hot 100 video is so USA biased its a joke.

  • bufu

    Yeah his interview was less than interesting but the guy who did the interview was shit. Some funny comments on here. Regarding Fisher…. yeah he rips but he is not on Stack’s level. Maybe in a jersey but not when it gets heavy or technical. Although he has been seriously humbled dude’ll dust him self off and accomplish big things in his career.

  • dante rondo

    Balaram surfs as well as guys on the wct tour already ! But there are so very many talented surfers out there these days…Love what you do…Live what you do…And fellow your dream ! Hopefully you can make a living along the way…! And if not…Just keep surfing anyway ! Cheers Balaram !

  • East coast

    Balaram, Comps need to stand up and get you on.. there is a lot of room on that board. Just don’t burn bridges acting out. Bam did a good job being cool with ripcurl, they reorganized and is back on. Also Kelly is from east coast and on Quick… Problem is he eat up the budget for the east coast. You need Bodyglove to reinvest into the east coast marketing like in the 90′s, get some suits, and live the cold.

  • Team Manager

    Quit crying Balaram. You know how many surfers in this world would be thankful to just get free clothes from a surf brand. Go out and get a job because as you know you overrate yourself.

  • Critic

    Balaram seems like a good kid. Born and bred stand out from NY. Definitely a talented guy who (with his sponsors help for the last 7 years) has been progressing a lot. (To say he surfs as good as the WCT guys based on free surfing clips means you probably don’t understand what it means to surf at the level of a prime event… )

    BUT look at the bigger picture and what other guys his age are doing without surfing the world for the last 7 years… “From NY” was the only angle IMO.

    Aside from that – Quiksilver is known to have piss poor company management. They almost went bankrupt once and if you take a look online for “what it’s like to work at quiksilver” you’ll get a good idea of how the company is run. Slater carries that whole brand.

  • Batman

    Why does Quik need to sponsor anyone other than Slater (WCT et al) Healy (big waves) Craig (free surfing) Flores (Europe angle) Gilmore(ladies). That’s it, sack the rest, have the best or the next best surfers in their fields, oh yeah and they have Dane too for good measure, they don’t need anyone else.

  • synic

    Hopefully that home school GED comes in handy.

  • E man

    Balaram is a good kid, but with the surf industry the way it is today you need to offer something unique in order to be relevant as a professional surfer. Quiksilver has what they need in their team. They are trying to save money by dropping all the little contracts that add up to big money. EVERY surf company is doing this. Take note to all the kids out there with aspirations of being a surf celebrity. The odds are slim to none that you will be able to make a living out of this career path, unless you are a WCT surfer or one of the top 5 freesurfers in the world. Getting barrelled and doing airs is not a job, save for about 100 people in the entire world. If that is what you love then make it your life long hobby, maybe you should also go to class and learn something. Don’t hang your hat on surfing and think that is going to carry you in life. Balaram will find another sponsor as well, but if I were him I would start looking at a long term back up plan. Unless he makes the tour a shot at a long term surfing career will be limited. I do wish him all the best though.

  • Batman

    Let me retract that last statement, drinking and commenting are a bad combination, now to check out what I wrote on Facebook….

  • EAST Coast PRIME

    I laugh at the East Coast haters … ever hear of Kelly Slater? How about the Hobgood brothers? Between Kelly and CJ there are 12 world titles for this stretch of coast. That’s more than CA and HI combined, and about two less than the whole of Australia. Wake up ice heads!

  • thinkaboutit

    The first step of eliminating goofy-footers from the surfing world. Doesn’t anyone else see what is going on? the surfing Illuminati strike again.

  • Common Sense

    Here’s the truth people. How many of you commentating on here over the age of 25-30, who actually have the money to go out and buy a $100 pair of board shorts or $25 tee actually do so because Kelly, Dane, John John, Parko, taj or jordy wear them? Anyone run out to buy Nike 6.0 cause of Julian or Kolohe? Lol. Surfers are viewed as a source of VALIDATION nowadays. Older surfers are more concerned with trying to buy the coolest tees that shows that they AREN’T a surfer – Nirvana tees, John Deere shit, or basic plain white tees. Therefore pro surfers are now mostly paid so these sponsors can use them in ads, websites, hangtags, point-of-sale visuals and windows – to sell product to tourists, non-core surfers and kids in the Midwest. 99% of the pro surfers out there are paid to validate support of the lifestyle and NOT sell clothes. Non surf brands like Red Bull, Monster and Gatorade could care less if you’re a world champ or a free surfer. How they pay an athlete is based upon how many impressions they will get them in the media via editorial or social vehamount combined with the amount of impressions their advertising featuring the athlete will get. Conclusion: unless you’re winning contests, world titles, or catching bombs at jaws or mavericks on a REGULAR basis or have half a million followers on instagram because you surf in a thong, you are expendable.

    I personally do not care who my favorite surfers surf for. And IN RETURN, the surfers like Balaram should not care who they ride for either. They want to continue to live the dream. The smart part about BS is that he realizes that the dream does not last very long. So why not do to QUIK and the rest of the “core” industry exactly what they do to them? Just go for the money, wherever it comes from, that will allow him to get where he needs to go?

    My suggestion, Balaram, sage Erickson, fisher, Roy powers and anyone else who feels they should be sponsored by a major company, should band together and approach a MAJOR company. One bigger than almost all the major surf brands combined – HOLLISTER. offer their services as surfers, but more importantly models, and ambassadors of the lifestyle. Their pictures will be in every mall window, brochure catalog and website HOLLISTER has. Is there any difference? And to be completely honest, I’ve seen some cooler looking tees from Hollster than most of the major brands.

  • Uncommon Sense

    HOLLISTER? Bwahahahahah!

    http://instagram.com/p/X-qc5aRiaJ/