Markus Bohi '85, Technology & Operations Management
Co-Founder & CEO, C1RCA
|C1RCA CEO Markus Bohi says his worldwide skateboard apparel enterprise “started off as a really simple company.”
Markus Bohi ‘85 completed his bachelor's degree at Cal Poly Pomona and his MBA from USC in as much time as a typical skateboarder perfects variations of the ollie.
That work ethic and dedication may be how he co-founded and developed one of the top skateboard apparel companies in the United States and abroad.
After graduating with a degree in agriculture in his native Switzerland and serving a short mandatory stint in the Swiss military in the mid-1980s, Bohi spent nine months with a buddy exploring North America.
Near the end of the trip, Bohi visited California. The Golden State clicked with the Swiss, so he decided to return.
With a student visa in hand, Bohi earned his degree in technology & operations management in about two years at Cal Poly Pomona. After also receiving an MBA in record time, he could have settled into a nice banking job in Switzerland, but he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, and he also met his future wife.
In 1991, Bohi and Paul Reis Jr. co-founded Four Star Distribution and developed Special Blend, a snowboard outerwear brand.
“Snowboarders were still wearing ski clothes when we starting making really baggy clothes and water resistant pants,” the CEO says. “It started off as a really simple company.”
As snowboarding exploded in popularity during the next few years, so did Four Star Distribution. The company moved from San Dimas to Rancho Cucamonga and finally to San Clemente, developing more brands and products along the way.
In 1999, Bohi and Reis developed C1RCA, a skateboard apparel brand. In order to elevate C1RCA's profile and success, in 2004, Bohi and Reis sold their snowboard brands Forum, Jeenyus, Foursquare and Special Blend to Burton, a Vermont-based snowboard company.
“Every brand has its own direction. It's almost like running a different company for each brand,” Bohi says. “We wanted to focus on C1RCA.”
Today, Four Star Distribution has locations in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Canada, and its creative headquarters in South Orange County, delivering C1RCA worldwide.
Bohi's work requires him to travel all over the world a few times a year. But the globetrotter doesn't mind, in fact, he relishes leaving sunny California from time to time.
While C1RCA is ever expanding to include more apparel for young women, children and toddlers, the focus of the brand is strictly dedicated to skateboarding culture and style.
The company has several lines designed around a team of pro skaters and some amateurs. Each skater brings a unique style that is carried through the palette and graphic elements of the clothes, shoes and accessories.
Bohi is both forward thinking about his company and loyal to the mom-and-pop board shops that initially sold his apparel while he built up his company.
“We have made several major improvements to the brand,” Bohi says. “But we stay committed to skateboarding, and we never want to lose sight of the shops that have done business with us since day one.
”During his college years, Bohi didn't see himself as a leading entrepreneur in the international skateboard apparel industry. However, he took the skateboard by the wheels and went for it.