Ron DiMenna

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When Ron DiMenna told his father that he had outgrown his homemade fiberglass surfboards and wanted a custom board from California, his dad offered this advice: “Buy three, sell two at a profit, then yours will be free.” DiMenna took the early economics lesson to heart. In 1961, he opened his first surf shop on Long Beach Island, New Jersey: Ron Jon Surf Shop was born.  

Over the next six decades, DiMenna transformed Ron Jon into a world-famous surfing mecca. The original shop on Long Beach Island is now a four-story surf emporium filled with a colossal selection of active lifestyle apparel and accessories, boardsports equipment and diving gear. It also features one of the world’s largest surfboards: stretching 24 feet, it towers over the sales floor. 

DiMenna’s second oldest shop, located in Florida’s Cocoa Beach, is now the company’s flagship store — and it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations along Central Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The company has seven other locations spread across the Eastern Seaboard, as well as licensing agreements with stores in Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. 

Ron Jon is now the world’s largest surf retailer by an order of magnitude. DiMenna’s efforts have not only led to his own business evolving into an empire, but they were also instrumental in turning surfing into a multibillion-dollar industry. Early on in his career, DiMenna recognized the broad appeal of the sport and made the then-unorthodox decision to sell products geared not only toward surfers, but also toward non-surfers who were drawn to the counterculture lifestyle.

DiMenna operates his business — alongside his wife Lynne and their two Australian Blue Heeler herding dogs — out of a luxury motorhome, custom painted to look like a 1940s-style woody station wagon. They’ve affectionately named this 42-foot-long behemoth “the world’s largest woody.”

Photos courtesy Ron DiMenna