The word CEO too often conveys the image of an uptight guy in a suit. In the case of Pierre-Andre Senizergues, CEO and Founder of Sole Technology, Inc. this could not be farther from that stereotype. As former world champion skateboarder PAS, as he is usually referred to, has instilled a certain coolness and upbeat energy to the job title. It is clear that he having the time of his life, something that struck me when I met him, roughly nine years ago, at the WSA show in Las Vegas during one of those generic award shows hosted by one of the sponsoring trade publications. (My fashion peeps will understand what I am talking about!!!). And how could he not when he manages to combine his two passions, skateboarding and the environment, into a hugely successful business. It all started with the first brand: Etnies. Created in 1986 it is the first skateboarder-owned and operated global action sports footwear and apparel company. Ten years later Sole Technology was born and became the parent company of the four brands that existed at the time: Etnies, éS Footwear, Emerica and Thirty Two. Today the company has a total of seven brands under its umbrella with the last two additions of Altamont and STI Lab. Not bad for a French kid from L’Hay Les Roses — a suburb of Paris — where he grew up skateboarding. As he continued to build his empire, PAS made sure that the company also implemented some serious environmental initiatives: from the usage of solar panels at its headquarters, cutting its water usage by 35%, aiming to be completely carbon free by 2020, to executive produce, back in 2007, the eye-opening documentary “The 11th Hour”. All these efforts have become an integral part of the DNA of the brand. The latest addition to the company’s environmental initiatives is the “Buy a Shoe – Plant a Tree” campaign. The project started almost two years ago in Costa Rica where the Etnies team planted 35,000 trees thanks to the sale of two styles made from recycled materials: the men’s and Kids Jameson 2 Eco and the women’s Caprice Eco. This year the project has expanded into Brazil where Etnies and its pro Surf Team partnered with Trees for the Future and planted 75,000 trees. Etnies surfers Matt Wilkinson, Brett Simpson, Benji Weatherly and Chris Del Moro spent some time together in Rio surfing, hang gliding and then traveling to Sao Paulo to visit etnies’ Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree (BASPAT) project. They got to see, first-hand, the work that etnies and Trees for the Future are doing to help replenish the forests and how the program is teaching Brazilian teenagers and children about sustainability and reforestation. I thought it would be fun to share the video of their trip so here you go: http://etni.es/brasileiro-baspat.
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1. What do you love most about your job?
That’s its not a job.
2. If you did not live in Lake Forest, California where would you live and why?
I actually live in Newport Beach and work in Lake Forest, CA. If I didn’t live in Newport, I would live in the rainforest because of the bio diversity, the excitement and variety of plants and animals that it brings. When I am in the rainforest, I feel exhilarated by the inspiring colors…it’s amazing to breathe such fresh air!
3. When not working what do you enjoy doing?
I never work, so I enjoy my days fully. But if I’m tired of being in the office, the first thing that I love to do is to go surfing or skating or chase my kids around.
4. What is your best memory from childhood?
My grandparents had a small house in the South of France and I loved spending time with them in the village. Playing in the village, knowing the people, going in the vineyards, jumping around, riding horses and just being a carefree kid. I loved being mischievous with my grandfather and we had fun driving my grandmother crazy with our antics.
5. What is your favorite holiday destination and why?
I love Malibu because it’s close by and relaxing so I go there frequently. It’s so beautiful to go hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains and go surfing at Point Dume.
6. Book or e-reader? Why and what are you currently reading?
I’m not a big reader. But I love to go online and check out what’s going on. I visit a lot of design and skate sites.
7. Which social media platform do you use and how did they impact your business?
For our brands we use the major ones with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’re trying out the others right now to see their impact, but we have a strong connection with our consumer with our social media programs utilizing the main networking site.
8. What is a true luxury for you today?
A true luxury is simply a moment of quiet and peace. I love when I have the time to walk through nature or go surfing. It’s about being close to nature whether it be being out on the water and seeing dolphins or watching a pelican take flight.
9. What is your biggest accomplishment to date? Why?
That I’m still able to get on a skateboard after all that I’ve been through!! I’ve taken risks, kept it pure and now over 25 years later, I’m still riding my board and loving every minute of life.
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