Employee Spotlight - Josh Ornelaz
After Sales Manager, FlowRider®, Inc.
We’re lucky to have employees at FlowRider who have spent so much time in the stationary wave industry, on both the operations and manufacturing sides. Josh recently hit the ten-year mark at FlowRider, with expertise as a wave operator, installer, and now after sales manager.
We tapped into Josh’s wealth of knowledge on the stationary wave industry and learned more about how everything he has done in the past 10 years has allowed him to share the ins-and-outs of operating a successful FlowRider venue. Check out the interview below for great wave operations tips and to learn more about one of our incredible after sales managers:
What was your background before you got involved with FlowRider?
I’ve always been drawn to the water, so a lot of my background is in lifeguarding, water safety, and emergency care. While I was in getting my bachelor’s degree in economics at San Diego State University, I worked as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, and I managed a surf camp in Del Mar.
Then right before graduation, I got a job as a wave operator at WaveHouse San Diego. That’s where I got my first taste of the FlowRider and fell in love with the barrel, and the rest is history.
We definitely see your venue operations expertise around the office. What did you learn by being on the operations side?
Ever since I started working at the WaveHouse, I’ve loved the sport of flowboarding. When I was on the wave every day, I just made it my goal to spread the love of the sport. My background running surf camps really helped me engage kids in the area with flowboarding, and that made a huge difference for WaveHouse, too.
Before I got there, WaveHouse was doing summer camps with just 10-15 kids per session. I transitioned the camps to accommodate 60 kids per session and made sure every session was sold out, with over 400 kids enrolled in summer camps each year after I got involved with the program while it was running.
I also started the Young Guns program, where we offered $10 lessons every Sunday morning, specifically targeted to kids under 17 throughout Southern California who were NSSA and SSS ocean surfers. Most of the kids who participated were from San Clemente or Orange County, so since it was a long drive, they’d almost always buy the $60 day pass along with the $10. This was great for return ridership, but it also kept them and their parents in the venue all day which was great for retail and F&B.
This stuff really made a huge difference when it came to pulling in extra revenue.
So how did all of this lead to working at FlowRider?
While I was working at the WaveHouse, FlowRider’s fearless leader, Marshall Myrman, gave me the opportunity to set up the FlowRider Mobile at the Canadian National Expo in Toronto. This was in August 2012, and my first installation job came a few weeks later when I got to build a FlowRider Single at Makadi Palace in Hurghada, Egypt.
Then I spent nine years travelling and building projects for FlowRider globally. I managed prototype installations for the first WaveOz, FlowRider Triple, FlowRider Edge, and a few more, and in total I worked on 94 FlowRider projects globally.
And now you are FlowRider’s After Sales Manager. How does that compare to working as an installer?
For nine years, I saw first-hand that FlowRider is the industry leader when it comes to craftmanship. I manage our entire installation team now, so I hold them to the highest standard to make sure we exceed client expectations.
Now instead of completely focusing on installing waves, I’m able to work with our clients more strategically to help their venues be successful. Sometimes that’s by hosting competitions to help them build their community, and sometimes it’s by completely revamping their wave to make sure it always looks and feels amazing.
My end goal in both positions has stayed the same: smiles. Smiles from venue owners who are stoked to see their new or improved wave, smiles from installers who have spent weeks working hard, and smiles from kids who are some of the first to ride the wave.
You’ve also taken on the project of revamping FlowRider’s safety trainings. What does that do for venues?
I want to be there for anything FlowRider venues need, not just installations and refurbishments. Making sure wave operators are properly trained and enthusiastic is just as important for success.
We really care about venues having properly trained staff on their waves, so we’ll volunteer our time to do these trainings.
So, when venues sign up, the first portion is always in the classroom. I take their whole staff through the operations and procedures manual. Then regardless of their experience on the wave, I walk the staff through every part of the wave, so they can make sure the wave is ready to go before it ever turns on.
It’s also important for staff to know that as wave operators, they need to wear multiple hats for customers to have a good experience. They need to be instructors, have customer service skills, and, for many venues, have lifeguard or first aid training. By wearing all those hats, that’s what creates the best rider experience to get the return riders for the venues, and that’s what worked so well when I was at WaveHouse San Diego.
What do you like most about your job at FlowRider?
So many things. I love to travel, and early in my career, FlowRider gave me a one-way ticket to travel the world by installing waves. That was a huge gift.
I’ve always been passionate about riding any wave, whether it’s ocean surfing, wake surfing, or flowboarding. The fact that I get to share that experience, especially with parts of the world that would never normally see a wave, is incredible. That’s what gets me excited to go to work every morning.
And we feel lucky to have you, Josh! If you want to know more about safety trainings, FlowRider refurbishments, or the flowboarding community, Josh is your guy. Give him a shout at email@example.com