Surf simulation company rides wave of success
SURF'S way up for a small Hawaii company that's been in the surf simulator business for 12 years.
Surf Simulators of Hawaii LLC has been hired by Sony Pictures Entertainment as part of the national promotion team for the new animated movie, "Surf's Up," now in theaters.
Owner Paul Goo is, like, stoked, dude.
"They wanted to give people the experience of surfing," and found his company on the Internet.
Goo has about 20 surf simulators that are popular rentals for corporate, birthday and other parties, but this is project is akin to having his company's name up in lights.
"We have this whole schedule," he said of Sony Pictures' promotional plans.
He has taken a surf simulator to Manhattan where some Sony suits "got to try it and play with it."
People stand on a board they manipulate and see themselves surfing on a large screen. "Before you know it, people actually duck and move their arms as if they're really surfing," he said.
Goo's company dresses the area around the surf simulator to create a Hawaii-like environment and presents large trophies and oversized checks for winning surfers to pose with for keepsake photos.
The Manhattan event was to introduce the movie and specialty spinoffs such as the video game to distributors and retailers from around the world. "It's amazing how big Sony's reach is," Goo said.
Wal-Mart headquarters in Arkansas was another stop on the corporate promotion path. Costco will be another, where the simulator game screen likely will be customized with images and advertising messages.
Public promotions also are planned, but Goo has to keep those close to the vest.
Something he could leak to TheBuzz, is, "We're trying to integrate the surfboard to work with the actual "Surf's Up" game," he said.
"We're almost finished doing that and we are going to be able to use that locally as well."
Goo has sold simulators to U.S. Army and U.S. Navy facilities but has had less success making a foray into Hawaii's resort mecca.
"Why would people want to stand on a surf simulator when they could go do the real thing," businesspeople have told him. "Most tourists don't ever go surfing," Goo says.
He won't put a surf simulator in a bar. "We just promote good, clean fun," he said.
Heartwarming, tears-in-the-eyes-welling fun, too, sometimes.
"A bunch of us who developed this were kind of nerdy, and I'm still kind of a nerd, so we set up an override system," so everyone can leave successful.
The feature has been used at many a party where a child with a disability or lack of confidence gets on the board "and we can make it look like they're ripping on that wave," Goo said. "We love that part."
"We can make some of the kids, who would never have that experience, look like cool surfers."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org