Since standing at the helm of Surfing Australia, Andrew Stark has helped the business to ride a wave of success, growing revenue threefold and increasing staff from seven to more than 25.
Stark, who took on the role in 2009, has helped transform what was once traditionally referred to as an ‘organisation’ into a dynamic and sustainable business that boasts economic pillars built on successful national sporting initiatives.
Stark tells More Gold Coast (MGC) that Surfing Australia’s corporate charter is to act like a business while creating a healthier and happier Australia through the growth and promotion of surfing.
“We’ve put 50,000 five-to-twelve year old kids through our Surfgroms program, we’ve pumped half a million dollars into grassroots clubs around Australia through the Australian Boardriders Battle national club series and we’ve trained present and future surfing champions at the High Performance Centre.”
Surfing Australia has also paddled into the media and digital sphere with the launch of its hugely popular mySurf.TV – a comprehensive digital-content channel that showcases surfing’s diverse lifestyle, history and culture.
Stark says the sport of surfing in Australia isn’t exclusive to those who are passionate about the sport.
“Surf tourism is a key economic driver on the Gold Coast,” he says.
“The fiscal impact is in the hundreds of millions in part to major events occurring in the city such as the annual Quiksilver and Roxy Pro held at Coolangatta’s Snapper Rocks.
“What’s far more powerful than the event itself is the surf tourism that happens for months throughout the year.
“The event is broadcast to millions of people around the world who are exposed to the Gold Coast’s perfect sunshine, pristine beaches and picture-perfect waves and that attracts a lot of people to the city.”
Stark tells MGC there are currently 2.5 million recreational surfers in Australia – a number which is now set to increase after the International Olympic Committee recently voted to add surfing to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games sports program.
“It’s a game changer for sport in Australia, globally and for our organisation,” he says.
Surfing Australia is located in Coolangatta, but it’s not just the Gold Coast’s iconic waves that lured the business to the city.
Stark says the region is a prime destination to run a national organisation.
“There is a lot more here from a perspective of infrastructure, investment and B2B opportunities,” he says.
“It’s also extremely easy to fly in and out of the Gold Coast. If you’re running a national business, which we are, and you need to be in Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra, and have a lot of staff moving around the place, then the Gold Coast Airport is fantastic to get in and out of. It’s really easy and that’s really attractive.”
Since taking on the role at Surfing Australia, Stark has seen revenue for the business increase threefold.
Prior to accepting the role at Surfing Australia, Stark was the CEO of Surfing Queensland for nine years. His experience also includes staging more than 200 events throughout eight countries over the past 15 years.
Stark has been awarded the Queensland Sport Administrator of the Year at the Queensland Sport Awards and also awarded an Australian Surfing Hall of Fame Award for excellence in administration.