Work AND play - Interview with Chad Mihalick


Let’s face it — we all have to work to make a living and support our vices. So why not make it fun and interesting too?

A good ol’ 8-4 desk job can kill anyone in the long run but if you combine the passion you have for “outside work” activities to “at work” activities your chances of surviving the race increase tremendously. Or how does being a Global Product Manager for Sole Technologies, DC Inventory Control Manager or perhaps a Web designer for Billabong sound? The action sports industry offers a vast pool of opportunities to work within the sport of your lust.

Chad Mihalick, the owner of Malakye.com action sports recruitment service, makes his living by helping the big and small industry players find and recruit the best candidates for the jobs on offer. Chad has been running his website since 2002 and now employs a few people with lots of people contributing on a regular basis. Chad is one of those people who grew up doing the sports and wanted to stay involved. He knew for certain being a pro-shred would absolutely never happen, so he had to come up with an alternative way to keep in the snow.

The website itself has loads of interesting industry profiles, interviews, forums, news — besides the obvious: available job opportunities. At the moment most of the positions are located in the US, but also Euro jobs have been appearing more increasingly. And even if you’re not looking for a job, it’s worth it to check the site out and read what the buzz in the industry is about.

Words & Interview by Pia KaipainenHi Chad and big thanks for showing some love to us here in Europe and sharing your expertise in the action sports biz. How’s your day kicking off in So Cal?
Today is a great day! Thanks for asking. We work half-day Fridays here so I’m headed to Mammoth for some riding. Not always we actually get out at noon and not always I’m able to get up there so I’m really psyched at this moment.

Your office is located at Manhattan Beach. The ocean must be close; you go surfing on lunch breaks?
I usually eat lunch at my desk. I get here at 8AM or earlier, and I’m usually here to about 19.00 as you would say in Europe.

What does a regular day in the office hold for you then?
It starts out with email, like it does for most everyone. See what happened overnight, take care of it, and then move on to whatever that day holds. Sometimes it’s working with developers on the website, sometimes it’s working with companies, sometimes it’s talking with people looking for work. Sometimes it’s working on advertising. Sometimes it’s working on events. My friend Karl Fuhre from IS Design created this amazing contest called ‘Office Booyz’ and we just brought it to southern California for the first time. He’s from Vancouver. It’s a contest for desk jockeys, like me. And you can win prizes for really funny things. If you go to Malakye.com/ob you can check it out. Hillarious.

Interpreting from all the new positions posted on Malakye.com daily, it seems that you are a matchmaker in great demand. How has the business grown from when you first put the website up?
Malakye has grown a ton over the past 5 years. We went from zero customers to about 1,400 customers today. Not all are posting jobs at the same time, but they all do come around when the time is right.

How hard/easy has been to get the big players like Burton, Quiksilver and Volcom to use your services? They probably employ you the most as their flow of people getting hired and fired must be more or less constant?
Their flow is somewhat constant. Between creating new jobs, growing the company, and people leaving there’s almost always something happening with the big guys. Was it hard to get them on board….yes, I’d say it was. What made it hard was to get them to give it a shot. Like with anything new it’s hard to get people to test it out.

Malakye also hosted job fair called “Shmoozapalooza” as a sidekick to the ASR trade show this September, in San Diego. Tell us something about it; how did the show go?
You know, the Shmooz was good. I think we’ll do it again. The way it worked was we invited about a dozen of the industry’s top employers, and then invited job seekers. Put them all in a room and let’em have at it. At one point in the day there were several lines that were more than 100 deep – that’s something we’re gonna fix this year. The Malakye ads I have seen in e.g. Transworld Business pretty much crystallize the image I was trying to convey in my intro. Meaning that there is pretty much two ways to tackle your work: the boring way and the fun way. I’m a firm believer that it’s vital your work has that “fun” element. Whether that comes from great co-workers or motivating tasks it doesn’t matter — the free booze at the yearly christmas party simply isn’t enough. The fun must be present in that every day butt busting. What are your thoughts?
I couldn’t agree more. And it doesn’t matter what industry. You can have fun and be serious at the same time. There are days where I’m so busy that I don’t have time to talk with the people I work with unless it’s work related, and sometimes those days turn in to weeks right now, but I love having fun and I think everyone should. There’s a time and place for everything. Fun has it’s place, for sure. By the way, you should see the newest ad campaign we have going. It will definitely put a smile on your face.

Do you get to travel a lot in your job and how many of your customers (meaning the employers) do you actually meet eye-to-eye?
I go through periods where I travel a lot, and then periods where I don’t. The last “travel period” I was in lasted almost two months. I don’t meet as many of my customers eye-to-eye as I’d like. I’d like to meet everyone that way. I’d say we are able to see a lot of them though at the tradeshows.

It’s a fact that the action sports industry is an attractive career option for someone who loves to e.g. snowboard. But it’s not enough to score a job in the industry. What would be the most crucial focus points for someone who hopes to work for an action sports employer one day?
Well, definitely picking something that you’re good at is very important. There are only so many Team Manager jobs to go around. So the first step is to pick something you’re good at or you could be good at. If it’s something like design, get a degree / training and get yourself interning or working as soon as possible. Same goes for any specialized profession. Every job that exists in mainstream corporations also exists in this industry. Get the right training, be serious about your work, and enjoy the success that will follow.

There has been more Euro jobs advertised on the site lately and that’s great news for us. But why has it taken so long? Is it because the volumes simply aren’t that big around here? A Euro snowboard clothing brand can hide a team of 4 people behind it — and that would be the whole company represented. Not much need for recruitment there, eh?
I don’t know why it’s taking so long. All of the European industry, please email me to voice your opinion: chad@malakye.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. It’s something I want to see happen. I think the industry in Europe, between all the segments, is large enough to support something like a Malakye.com. U.S. brands are also able to do the same thing – have very few people working for them but appear to be large.

And last but not least: what do you enjoy the most in YOUR job?
My job….to this day, and I think it will always be this way, the thing I like most is when I get word from someone looking for a job or from a company that a hire was made. And now that we have B2B it will be the same fundamentally, but a little different. It will be a company and a supplier saying thanks for connecting us. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the high in this business. Seeing it work. Thanks for inviting me to do this interview. I had fun. And to all in Europe, see you soon!

Chad — the pleasure was purely ours so thanks again. Interpreting only from the images you provided us, we can take a wild guess that there’s no need for “casual friday’s” in the Malakye office! We should all wear a sumo mask to work every now and then — respect!
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