“I had given my heart and soul to the company for 20 years,” Jamie McMahon, 43 from Kingscliff told Tracks. “I thought it was a job for life, and now the rug has been pulled from under my feet.
Speaking from his three-story holiday house at Byron Bay where he has been holed out since the sacking, McMahon said he was more surprised than anyone about his sudden unemployment status.
“I mean we had a massive mainstream company behind us who said surfing was a key strategic pillar of their future growth yield,” he said. “And even when the hedge fund guys took over after the sale, I was certain they’d put surfing first. I can understand getting rid of the athletes and the factory workers, but it’s us marketeers who hold the whole thing together.”
McMahon has had to face up to new, everyday hardships after his sudden change in employment. He says it is the little things, rather than the cancelled Sales Meeting at Tavarua that has been the most difficult so far.
“I mean initially even clothes shopping was really hard,” the mid-length surfboard proponent said. “I had been grabbing samples and freshly boxed clothes for two decades and then was suddenly faced with this array of different brands and clothes. Woolworths blew my brain apart.”
That was just the start though as his life unravelled. “I had to get my own phone contract. Do you know how much they cost?” Asked McMahon, clearly shocked. “And the amount of paperwork was incredible. It took me a whole week to sort that out, and even now, I’m worried about my data limit. It often cuts out streaming when I’m researching the girl’s youth market.”
McMahon has been forced to rent out the Byron pad for the Easter holidays and while he is mortgage free and the redundancy package was considerable, he says it’s more the loss of self-worth that is the most traumatic.
“You know I had a pretty emotional day yesterday. I had to go and peel off all the sponsor stickers off the 15 boards on my quiver,” he said clearly distraught. “To me, that was more emotionally draining than letting go off my shares. To not have a visible sign of my status and success when I surfed, a little logo that showcased who I was and what I stood for, was devastating.”
McMahon though said he was trying to look for the positives. “Look I had a good run and made a lot of friends, although to be fair I’ve lost touch since the sacking. And during the 1990s some of the budgets I spent were out of this world. I remember once booking the Indies Trader IV, just for a weekend!” he laughs. “But just the other day my wife asked me whether I would consider going to labour in the mines and I almost had a heart attack. All I can do is move numbers around a spreadsheet, hassle surf shops and collect expense receipts. For me, it’s the surf industry or nothing.”