It all started from his mom’s garage about 38 years ago. Doug Otto was a surfer with a dream — to make a living in surfing.
“He really invented the modern flip-flop we know today, the neoprene rubber with parachute webbing. They were called Deckers. He had a little factory in Carpinteria but worked originally out of his mom’s garage in 1973.”
From its humble beginnings in the early 1970s, Deckers is now expanding into the Cabrillo Business Park in Goleta, where Martinez, fellow executives, community leaders and Goleta officials broke ground Wednesday afternoon.
Deckers purchased the Ugg brand in 1995, when it recorded $13 million in annual sales, Martinez said. This year, Ugg is expected to surpass $1 billion.
The 13.8-acre Goleta site will include three buildings totaling 150,000 square feet and an additional fourth building that may be developed later. The headquarters is projected to house more than 400 employees, and will include a gym, a cafeteria, a 4,000-square-foot retail store and a multiuse rotunda. Deckers plans to move in by mid-2013.
“I have to say it was Goleta that truly expressed the desire and shared vision for Deckers being here for the long run,” Martinez said. “It isn’t just the economic impact of Deckers; it’s the quality of life for all the people who work at Deckers as well as the benefits the city will derive from a global headquarters.
“It’s an opportunity for a young city like Goleta to establish itself as a pragmatic business-friendly steward of the future.”
Steve Fedde of Sares-Regis Group, the Cabrillo Business Park developer, said it’s not often a community has the opportunity to keep a locally founded, growing company local.
“What’s more important than anything is the city’s flexibility in helping Deckers help us work through the process to make those changes to get them the campus they really needed,” he said.
Los Carneros Road and Hollister Avenue will be improved with new medians, landscape sidewalks, bike paths and public transportation infrastructure. The construction will work around the protected wetlands.
“Being an environmentalist, to be celebrating a development as the first day as mayor feels a little funny, but as a development it’s so right that I can do it with clear conscience and warm heart,” said Ed Easton, who was appointed mayor of Goleta at a meeting Tuesday night.
Pacifica Commercial Realty vice president Mark Mattingly called it a development that will spark the Cabrillo Business Park and, hopefully, attract other businesses to the area.
“This company is committed to this area, to quality jobs and to the future,” Martinez said. “We want to see this area grow to be a big source of business and productivity in the Central Coast. We hope this will be a magnet.”
In terms of Deckers’ local roots, quality employers and sustainable practices, Goleta couldn’t have asked for a better fit, said Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s symbolic in the change in the relationship with the city of Goleta between the chamber and the businesses, and a clear herald from them that they want to work with us and be problem-solvers,” said Amyx, adding that this development couldn’t have happened 10 years ago.
“They’re forward-thinking, and that’s huge for those looking to come here or grow here.”
For Deckers, Santa Barbara County is where it all began. Now, it’s somewhat hard for Martinez to believe.
“I can’t believe this day is actually here,” he said. “These projects start as dreams end up in too many cases as nightmares. But not in this case. This has been a pleasure.”