The Drive Home With Grind Media’s Norb Garrett

by The Editors on May 20, 2013

GrindMedia masterminder Norb Garrett makes everything look so easy.Grind Media’s Senior Vice President and Group Publisher Norb Garrett is driving North on I-5 from Carlsbad back to the office in San Clemente, California. He’s riding in the passenger seat of a Honda that is nearly out of gas when we finally catch him on the phone.

We know the car is running on empty because twice during the call he interrupts to ask the driver if they are going to make it. Being stranded by the side of the road in Southern California’s last bit of undeveloped wilderness would be a crazy way to finish off what has likely been a long day for Garrett, but as usual, he doesn’t seem too worried.

Earlier today (May 20, 2013) Grind Media announced to employees and later to the press that they had purchased their number one long-time competitor Transworld Media (publisher of Transworld Skateboarding, Transworld Snowboarding, Transworld Surf, Transworld BMX, Transworld Motocross, and Transworld Business). The deal has made Grind the “largest action sports media company in the world.” This is obviously a big deal in our world, especially in an era when some (okay, us) would argue that investing in print media brands is a pretty bad idea. Garrett, however, is quick to correct us and state that today’s transaction was not a “magazine” purchase.

“We didn’t buy print assets,” he says. “We bought great brands. What we’re attempting to do is leverage these brands and the quality content that they produce to help us play a more important role in growing our markets, engaging our audience, helping our advertisers grow their businesses, and luring new advertising to take advantage of the scale.”

In the age of sales driven media companies, Garrett is a bit of an anomaly. He sees content as the ultimate driver of revenue regardless of the platform it is being consumed on. And while we’ve heard a similar story from many media executives who thought “content” was simply a box that had to be filled with something, Garrett’s track record at Grind would suggest that he means what he says. “We believe a collection of assets that produces proprietary, difficult-to-produce content has real value,” he says. “These brands, the content, and the relationships we have with our customers is what is going to make us more successful together than the brands would be if they were apart. . . I’m very bullish on the content story.”

Aside from what Garrett described as a “handful of staffing changes due to executive redundancies” Garrett says Grind Media has no plans to layoff employees, cut brands, or close Transworld’s Carlsbad, California offices. In other words, the Transworld Media and Grind Media titles will continue going head-to-head against each other, but now in new, more creative, less detrimental ways.

“Rather than competing with each other over ad sales, we can allow the brands to compete with each other on who is doing better content, more creative special events, and engaging with their audiences,” Garrett says. “That’s really where we need to be as a media company. That is one upside of being the operators of the largest action sports media company in the world. Together we have a better chance of being successful long term than we otherwise would have had if we were apart.”

Garrett pauses a moment to mention to the person driving the car that they have just passed the Las Pulgas exit and their last opportunity to turn back for gas. “Hey, do you have a motorcycle or something you can ride up here to bring us some gas if we run out,” he asks at the end of our call.

“Not a motorcycle or a gas jug,” we say. “But if you do run out call us back and we’ll come get you.” So far, we’ve gotten no calls. And that’s probably a good sign.


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