CEO of Lost International and Co-founder of Gotcha Sportswear
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After graduating as a CPA in Durban, South Africa, Mr. Cooper went to work with his father who owned a clothing factory. He started in the cutting room and made his way through each department, learning the manufacturing process from start to finish. In 1997 his best friend and professional surfer, Michael Tomson, approached him with the idea to start a surf company. At that stage, Ocean Pacific were the giants that owned the market that had been built both in the USA and throughout the world. The market needed something new. They saw this as an opportunity. Joel had the production capabilities to produce the goods through his father’s factory, and Michael, being a world-famous surfer, were able to create Gotcha which was launched in South Africa in 1978. Their dream was always to come to the U.S. which they did one year later, moving the headquarters to Laguna Beach in November 1979. The rest is now history.
Gotcha grew to a $200 million dollar company which they eventually sold many years later. Having no desire to exit the industry, Joel joined his two partners Matt Biolis and Mike Reola, who had just started the brand LOST and needed both finance and experience, both of which he could provide. Together they formed Lost International which manufactures and sells clothing, surfboards, snowboards, skateboards, and related accessories. This was like restarting his career, which he has done now for the past 20 plus years. Matt, Mike and Joel are still partners, and together they continue to chase their dreams.
Joel Cooper has been involved in the surf industry for over 40 years and has not lost the passion and drive that motivated him since he was first introduced into the industry by lifelong friend and partner Michael Tomson.