Michael Tomson dead at 66
Michael Tomson, the pioneering pro surfer and co-founder of Gotcha clothing, passed away in Southern California overnight. Tomson's death followed a long battle with throat cancer. He was 66 years old.
During the formative years of pro surfing, Tomson played a supporting role to cousin Shaun Tomson, particularly when the South Africans and Australians stormed Hawaii's North Shore. However, the roles were later reversed when Gotcha, with Michael Tomson at the helm, broke new ground in the American surf industry.
With brash, bright, and obnoxious marketing campaigns, Gotcha was the US-equivalent of Australia's Quiksilver, albeit in a larger surf market. In hindsight the strategy seems less a business decision and more the personification of commerce; MT appeared in many Gotcha ads and his excesses were an advertisement to lifestyle.
Beginning in 1978, by 1985 Gotcha were making US$120 million in revenue, eventually peaking at $150 million before losing its way due to recession and outside investors taking control.
For a while, Tomson led MCD - More Core Division, or Michael's Core Division - presented as the inversion of Gotcha: dark and brooding, but in time Tomson settled into the more natural role of unconstrained industry elder who'd supply bon mots for anyone who came calling.
The Gotcha experience led Tomson to coin the phrase "size is the enemy of cool", a tension-laden maxim that every surf company since has had to address - including surf media companies.
Michael is survived by his wife, Kimberly, and his son Oliver.