Industry Insider: Skullcandy’s Rob Layer on making it happen
Most people would kill to have the chance sit in the same room as their favorite pro riders, nevermind be their boss. Skullcandy’s new skate and snow manager Rob Layer is not most people.
I have known Rob for a while now, and things have changed quite a bit for him lately. Several years ago, we, along with three others were sharing a crummy basement apartment in Park City and Rob had recently started a job in customer service at Skullcandy. Since then he’s worked his way up the ranks and shipped off to California. Rob now worries less about living in a dump and more about which surf spots to hit before work, and how best to keep up with the likes of Danny Kass and Devun Walsh.
Seeing a Cleveland kid, with a workhorse attitude and passion for the shred, work his way up the ranks of a company like Skullcandy is rad to see. And to see that same dude go from watching his favorite riders on videos, to working with them daily should be a lesson to us all.
Between meetings, photo-shoots and catching waves, Rob had just enough time to answer a few questions on how he made it happen.
You have been with Skullcandy for years, how did it start?
Yeah, I’ve been with the brand for a while now — over 5 years, which makes me a seasoned vet around these parts. I had just finished up an in-house gig with Lib and Rossignol when both of their sales departments were still based out of Park City and Skullcandy Headquarters were across the street. I started talking to them about some positions, had probably four to five different interviews and finally Jeremy (Andrus, Director of Operations at the time, now CEO) hired me, and wanted me to take over the Customer Service department.
What are some moments that made you initially realize that Skullcandy is the right fit for you?
It’s all about the people in our offices. I get to work everyday with my friends. When we’re not at work we’re still hanging out — skating, snowboarding, surfing, whatever. It’s a great group of people that share similar passions. This is the type of environment I’ve always wanted to be a part of.
Going from your first position to Global TM is a huge step. What happened between those two points that made it all come together?
So I started in customer service and managed that team for a while. Eventually that turned into an Interactive Marketing role in which rolled into Product and Retail Marketing for the Core channel. Now I’m running all global skate and snow initiatives. It’s been a wild ride to say the least, but I’m hyped on how it’s all come together. I’ve been able to learn every aspect of this brand from the ground up.
With your promotion came relocation. How has it been and what are your expectations?
Honestly I was a little hesitant at first to leave the mountains. I was in Utah for nine years and fell in love with that place. But now that we’ve settled in Southern California, I’m liking it more everyday. We can skate and surf everyday, which doesn’t suck — and the mountains are pretty close as well. Not to mention our Marketing and Creative crew in the San Clemente offices are amazing. So at the end of the day I’m feeling good about the decision.
Rob knows how to keep it classy on his way to work.
Being the Global TM, you are now responsible for keeping some of the biggest names in Snowboarding and Skateboarding in line. What is that like?
You always hear the horror stories from some of the Team Managers out there, but so far it’s been pretty mellow on my end. I inherited a pretty special group of people. Our skate and snow teams are some of the most talented people out there, and know how to get to work when needed. They make my job easy.
Are there any riders that are making your life/job difficult?
Right now it’s smooth sailing. Ask me this again in a year and I’ll probably have a few stories for you [laughs].
Ok, I’ll check in later for that. Overall, who’s rad to work with?
The ones that have been around a bit – guys like Eric Koston, Devun Walsh, and Danny Kass. Those dudes know what to do and show up ready to get shit done.
So what exactly is the Global Marketing Manager in charge of doing?
I’m not just the team babysitter, I also drive all other initiatives in skate and snow like events, campaigns, partnerships, et cetera. We’ve done a great job in the U.S. so far, but we’re really starting to focus on the international market. We’ve been working with our international offices to come up with a solid strategy that can speak to various regions around the globe.
Kicking it with Shooter McGavin.
Want to take us through the daily grind?
Wake up around 6, slam some coffee, maybe go on a skate, surf, or run depending on what sort of mood I’m in. Jump on the Harley for a quick little commute to the office. Try to dig out of email hell, have some meetings, talk to some athletes, throw some “shakas”, more meetings, lunch, play some ping pong or try to sneak in a skate. Then some afternoon coffee or green tea from the Bucks, probably another meeting, a high five or two, then home to be with the lady friend.
How much are you travelling and where?
I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately for events, photo-shoots, all that good stuff. I have a few trips to Colorado for snow team stuff coming up, and will hopefully get up to BC for another content trip. This summer we have some rad stuff planned for the skate team all over the U.S., and most likely Copenhagen for the CPH Pro.
What are some long-term goals that the marketing team wants to accomplish?
Right now we want to be the premier performance lifestyle audio brand in the industry. We’ve always brought new colors and materials to the table. Now we want everyone to know about the new tech and audio quality that we’re bringing to the table.
What are the Skullcandy scientists up to that will get us stoked?
A few new products will be dropping soon along with a few of our current models that we’ve re-designed. People will be hyped, stay tuned for those.
Casual drinks with Eero Ettala.
Are there any riders/athletes/models that Skullcandy has set their sites on acquiring?
We’ll be adding the skate team a bit. You’ll have to wait until Spring to see who though. The snow team is going to stay pretty locked. We don’t want to have so many athletes where people start to feel lost in the mix ya know?
What about this job gets your head off your pillow everyday?
I get paid to work on snow and skate projects. It’s pretty ridiculous — still not sure this is real life.