About the Entrepreneur
Craig Sugihara founded Town & Country Surf Shop in 1971 in an old barbershop in Pearl City Hawaii. Fueled by a passion for surfing and initial start-up capital of $3,000, T&C Surf has evolved into a multifaceted lifestyle brand and has established its place as a worldwide industry icon. Despite their global success, Craig and his son Ryan have never forgotten their roots and are fiercely proud to still be one of the only locally owned and operated surf companies.
More with Craig & Ryan
What do you think makes T&C Surf different from other companies out there?
Craig: I think we’re a true surf company. We live to surf and surf to live. We actually live the lifestyle. When I first started out, trying to balance surfing and working was hard. (chuckles)
Ryan: The biggest thing that differentiates us is we care about our customers. We’re a locally based company, locally owned still, and customers are important for us.
How have you evolved over the years?
Craig: Everything just came slowly, growing from one store to two stores to three stores. Today I look back and it’s kind of a blur. Once you have kids, you realize that time goes by all too quickly. Everything fell into place and I just managed to survive.
How do you feel about Ryan taking over the company you started?
Craig: It feels really good to see my son take over. Being the person that he is, he’s really self-conscious of what he’s doing. He’s a hard worker and you have to be a hard worker to succeed. As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing work so many long, thankless hours. You never realize how much work it is to start something.
Ryan, how did you start working for T&C Surf?
Ryan: I started off working for T&C as soon as I was born. (laughs) I grew up in the surf industry, in our stores running around making trouble. I’ve touched a lot of aspects in the company – the stores, the warehouse, swept the factory floor, management, buying, marketing. For me, it wasn’t a planned thing; it was something that just kind of happened. Truthfully, it’s benefited me, especially now, to know different areas in the company.
What do you love about working with Hawaii National Bank?
Craig: I like their good people and good customer service. They have helped our business with the grand openings of all our stores, inventory needs, and other financing.
“I think the secret to T&C’s success is our people. That’s number one in our company, whether they’re involved in the background or on the front end.”