Apr 10, 2009

Panel Bios - April 15, 2009

Don Brown
Senior Vice President, Sole Technology

Born and raised in Brighton, England, Don Brown has been skateboarding for over thirty years. He came to the United States in 1984, where he was sponsored by Vision skateboards and shortly thereafter skated the world as a professional skateboarder. He was the first U.K. skateboarder to get a pro model skateboard from a U.S. company. In 1989 Don won the World Championships for freestyle skating in Munster, Germany. Soon after he helped long time friend and fellow skateboarder Pierre André develop etnies by running sales and marketing, he helped design best-selling shoes and brought some of the top skaters in the history of skateboarding to the brand. Today, Don Brown is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Sole Technology, which designs, manufactures, and distributes five brands for the action sports market: etnies, Emerica, éS, Altamont Apparel, and Thirty Two snowboard boots.

Todd Roberts
Owner, ZJ Boarding House and Chairman, Board Retailers Association

Todd Roberts has been involved with the action sports industry since 1983. First as a competitive surfer, then as a shop-employee-turned-sales-rep, and finally opening his own shop in 1988. He co-owns ZJ Boarding House, a surf, snow and skate shop in Santa Monica, CA with partner Mikke Pierson. This past December, ZJ Boarding House celebrated their 20th anniversary. Todd is regarded as a pioneer of snowboard retailing in Los Angeles and has served on retail advisory boards for over 15 years. Currently he is Chairman of the board of BRA (Board Retailers Assocition) and is Retail Advisor to SIMA, ASR, and Surf Expo.


Chris Stiepock
Vice President & General Manager, X Games Franchise

Chris Stiepock was named vice president & general manager X Games franchise in June 2008, responsible for growing the X franchise both domestically and globally. He manages the organization and execution of ESPN's owned, organized and televised events, including the X Games, Winter X Games, all International X Games events, and multiple platform extensions. Stiepock also oversees action sports programming on ESPN's networks, including ESPN’s 24/7 action sports website ESPN.com/Action.

Prior to his current position, since January 2005 Stiepock served as General Manager of the X Games. In that role, Stiepock led the development, organization and operations for all aspects of the two U.S. based X Games events, multiple X Games events held in international markets, and all brand initiatives.

Stiepock has worked for ESPN since October 1994, when he was hired as the director of marketing and communications for what was then called the Extreme Games. He continued in this capacity, adding the Winter X Games and several auxiliary events to his responsibilities until being promoted to general manager of the ESPN Original Entertainment Events department in January 2001.

In 2006, Sports Business Journal named Stiepock the fifth most influential person in the action sports industry. And he is largely credited for helping to make the X Games one of the most recognized action sports brands in the world.

Prior to his work at ESPN, Stiepock was a freelance journalist, an advertising account executive, a marketing and communications director for the World Scholar-Athlete Games, and a marketing consultant to the Irish Basketball Association in Dublin, Ireland.

Stiepock has a master’s degree in buisiness administration in International Sports Management from the University of Rhode Island, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Wesleyan University, where he was the captain of the men's basketball team.

Per Welinder
President, Blitz Distribution and Chairman of the Board, IASC

Google Per Welinder, and your internet search will reveal the history of a pro skater; a legend who performed the stunts in the cult film Back to the Future, and a two-time World Champion Freestyle Skateboarder.

Today, Welinder is an entrepreneur in the business world. He earned his MBA from the Anderson School of Business at UCLA. Welinder is the President of Blitz Distribution. Blitz is a brand incubator for skate- and California lifestyle brands and has contributed and effectively built brands like Baker Skateboards, Birdhouse, Hook-Ups, Flip, and Howe Denim. The company was founded in 1992 and is based in the Los Angeles area and focuses on brand building through design, marketing and distribution.

Welinder also serves as the Chairman of the Board for IASC, the International Association of Skateboard Companies, with the mission to promote the growth of skateboarding worldwide.

Born in Sweden, Welinder now resides in Huntington Beach with his wife Elaine and their two boys, Lukas, 14 and Benjamin, 11.


Angelo Ponzi, Moderator
Senior Marketing Executive and co-founder of Board-Trac, Inc.

Angelo is a Senior Marketing Executive and co-founder of Board-Trac, Inc. and Craft Brand Support, LLC, with extensive experience in the field of marketing, developing and directing comprehensive market/product, research and communications plans for a variety of package goods, retail, consumer, food/beverage, business-to-business, high-tech, medical and financial clients. As a proactive, out-of-the-box thinker, Angelo has demonstrated his ability to research and identify company issues and problems and strategize solutions. His key strengths include understanding the consumer/end user by utilizing both primary and secondary information and filtering through it to identify the essence of a strategy. Angelo has led both small and large teams and has worked with global, national, regional and start-up companies with very large to small budgets. He has worked with products in all stages of their lifecycle from inception to implementation. Angelo’s focus is on the brand and how it relates to the consumer/user, a consumer-centric approach. He is an active public speaker on general marketing communications and youth research and has been an instructor of marketing and advertising at the University of California, Irvine for several years.


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