As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact economies across the globe on and off, we caught up with some of the windsurfing brands to speak about their actual situation. We also caught up with Aurelio Verdi, who founded AV Boards. The young Italian windsurfing board company faces a difficult situation as they were working hard towards 2020 by developing a full production board range and signing team riders.
Alex Mussolini & Aurelio Verdi
Continentseven: Aurelio, how did/does the Coronovirus impact AV Boards?
Aurelio Verdi: We closed the factory like many other brands did. From the beginning on this virus has been a real problem to our company. The production factory based in Vietnam had less capacity and had to cut orders in January. Then after 40 days they came back to full production and opened the factory again. Even in China many factories are still working with less capacities.
What are the main difficulties for a young windsurfing business?
After a first stop in parts of the far eastern Asian countries and the lockdown in all the other countries, the transport became 8 times more expensive and this is absolutely insane for our market. We work every day with many shipping companies for find a better solution, but actually everything is complicated and super expensive! So it’s easy to understand which effects this situation will have for our business.
We have a small custom factory in Italy. So we can produce some boards, but they will not be enough to supply all the request. We are not just a young company: this is our real first year in the market. We invested a lot to start the board production and we had high hopes for this season. And we still have, especially after the Boot show in Düsseldorf, where we received a great feedback from the visitors and we received also many orders.
AV Boards in the making by Aurelio Verdi
How will you make it through the crisis?
We paid the production of the new boards and the new boards are waiting to be delivered to Italy, but the virus also messed up all the transports, making everything crazy expensive, complicated and slower than before. But I think we still can face this situation. We have time to wait for the incoming new stock and our agents are still working.
This year we only produce what the shops and our agents ask for, which helps to optimize our investment, even if this means to bet a lot of money. I mean that even if we are producing only the boards that were asked by our agents and shops, means some hundreds of boards that have to be paid upfront, then produce them and then sell them. This means to put a lot of money on the plate and we only will know if we will get our reward at the end of the year. We will sell all the boards that we’ve produced, and we’ll earn enough to justify all this work and devotion. This to me sounds like a bet. And especially in a time like this I’m pretty sure that I’ll win my bet, because I’m doing everything step by step and in the right way, but you never know…
How do you see the chances to re-gain the loss of now later in the season?
For us June is the start. So hopefully one step after the other the life will come back. This summer season, I think, the people will stay around their local spots and they will have more time to practice sport. We just need to see how their budget will be to buy new windsurfing toys. I can tell you we’ll use this moment for work on a new web page, and to consolidate our distribution chain and stay safe, in good shape to come back soon to our life.
Thanks for the interview and good luck for the rest of the year!