Employee of the Month: Paul Francisco of SkudinSurf American Dream

New Jersey stand out Paul Francisco has found a way to keep wet during the East Coast’s notorious flat spells. It’s simple, he clocks in at one of America’s largest shopping malls where he helps run the show at SkudinSurf. Along with Alyssa Malliae, Greg Kaasmann and a host of others, Paul keeps the wave pool’s presence felt on social media while also doing whatever is necessary to keep the stoke level high. During a visit to SkudinSurfAD we found Paul, doing everything from helping first-timers, to moving deck chairs to selecting tunes for the next session. In short, it’s typical surf park work – a little bit of everything.

What is your job title here?

I have a few, but primarily right now I’m doing all the marketing and social media management. I’m also on site a few times a week too. I’m the wave operator and occasionally I’ll be a surf instructor as well.

Okay, So you wear a few hats? So why do you think that is the case at a wave pool? Is it because it’s such a new field?

Yeah, I think so. And like, everyone brings different things to the table, so it’s about how you utilize your team to make it all come together. Everyone has different values. Like, I’m really good with social media. It just comes naturally to me. And for the wave operators, we mostly want people who understand what the wave looks like and how it works here. Someone who is knowledgeable about that stuff.

As with so many jobs in the wave pool space, Paul wears a few different hats, helping out the team with everything from playlists, to customer care to moving deck chairs. Photo by Justin Mault

And what’s the your favorite part of the job?

My favorite aspect of the job is simply getting people excited, regardless of their surfing level, whether they are beginners, intermediates, or advanced experts. It’s truly amazing to witness the passion people have for surfing here. Personally, I always feel exhilarated when I surf in this location, so it brings me immense joy to see others experience the same feeling.

And what is the most challenging aspect?

The most challenging part, I would say, is our limited hours. It would be incredible if we could surf all day long. However, due to our current setup, we operate in the mornings and evenings. Our schedule is from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then from 7 p.m. to midnight. So, it would be ideal to have surfing sessions during the midday. 

Can you share a story that resonated with you? An instance that made you realize this is the perfect job for you?

Definitely, just spending time and hanging out with Will Skudin is truly special. He is not only a skilled businessman but also a fearless big wave charger, making him an incredible inspiration. Witnessing his drive and determination everyday is truly rewarding. Working alongside him and sharing these experiences is an absolute privilege.

And that kind of fires you up.

Yeah, Yeah, that gets me going, definitely.

Okay. And then what’s your personal history? Your background?

I’ve been surfing for approximately 14 years. I began surfing at the age of ten in the vicinity of the Jersey Shore, which is about an hour away from here. However, my father was the one who taught me how to surf when I was younger. It’s a common story for many people, I suppose. Nonetheless, I developed a passion for it at a young age and have stuck with it ever since.

Employee hours can get pretty creative in New Jersey’s largest shopping mall. Photo by Justin Mault

I noticed that people in New Jersey often complain about traffic.

Yes, traffic can be quite a hassle.

And considering you come from the Jersey Shore, how does that work for you?

It depends. During rush hour, it can be quite problematic. Without any traffic, it usually takes around 45 minutes. However, if there’s heavy traffic, it could take up to an hour and a half. So it really just comes down to timing. Luckily, the timing of our surfing sessions usually allows us to avoid most of the traffic. That’s a positive aspect of it. But there’s definitely a lot of traffic in New Jersey.

So what aspect of being in New Jersey makes you the most proud?

I suppose it’s the dedication and commitment. Many people aren’t even aware that surfing is possible in New Jersey. So it’s really cool when people are surprised and impressed by the fact that you can catch great waves in Jersey. Additionally, I enjoy surfing throughout the winter, regardless of the conditions: whether it’s knee-high and choppy or head-high and firing. It provides a varied and exciting experience.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’d just like to mention that if you ever happen to visit New York City, make sure to squeeze in a surf session here. It’s absolutely fantastic. You’ll catch a ton of waves, as we offer two-hour sessions to the public. You’ll leave the place having caught around 40 waves, completely satisfied with your surfing experience.