You’ll often hear businesses spout cliches like “we go above and beyond” or “we go the extra mile.” For us, values like these are a little too bland, lacking any real personality or conviction. Our owner, Lance Foster, is a big surfing fan, and he wanted to define our mission for great service in the terms of one of the most remarkable figures in surfing history: Eddie Aikau. “We go where Eddie would go” is one of our nine core values at AZCOMP Technologies, and we define it as being “passionate and determined.” Eddie is the epitome of being passionate and determined in his pursuit of service. All of our employees know his story, and I want to share it here with you, too.
In the world of surfing, Eddie Aikau is more than just famous — he is a legend. When the popularity of surfing exploded during the late ’60s, Eddie was known as one of the best big-wave surfers in the world. A native Hawaiian, Eddie was at home on the waters of Oahu’s North Shore. He surfed there, he lived there, and he was connected to the place in spirit. On the waves, Eddie was a natural, tackling huge swells and making it look easy.
While Eddie’s surfing prowess is universally acknowledged, that’s only a small part of his story. As more and more people traveled to Hawaii in search of big waves, the waters also became the site of more and more accidents. Waimea Bay was a treacherous location for thrill-seekers. It became clear that Waimea needed a lifeguard capable of attempting precarious rescues, and Eddie filled this role. During his lifeguard career, he completed over 500 rescues. Astonishingly, no one died while he kept watchful eye over Waimea Bay. Eddie was so passionate and determined that he never failed to go where nobody else would dare to.
Eddie’s passion for serving others wasn’t limited to his role as a lifeguard. As hotels sprang up across the Hawaiian islands, many native people were displaced. Eddie’s brother, Clyde, remembers, “even as kids in the ’60s, we weren’t wanted on Waikiki.” Eddie used his visibility as a surfing star to be a community leader and an advocate for the rights of native Hawaiians. When the polynesian Voyaging Society requested volunteers for a trip mirroring the migration patterns of ancient Hawaiians, Eddie signed on as a crew member.
Tragically, this was Eddie’s last voyage. When the boat capsized on March 17, 1968, the ever-fearless Eddie paddled on his surfboard in an attempt to get help for the other people on board. He even took off his life jacket to travel faster. The other voyagers
were rescued by the Coast Guard, but sadly, Eddie was never seen again. To this day, he is honored annually at the Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay — his home. The phrase “Eddie would go” was actually coined during the first of these contests. After looking at the extreme conditions, the organizers debated whether to move forward. Fellow surfer Mark Foo looked at the waves and remarked that “Eddie would go.” The phrase took off from there and became part of the surfing lexicon.
We want to follow Eddie’s example in providing exceptional service. When we say “Eddie would go,” we mean that we need to harness his passion and determination to get the job done, even when the conditions might be the worst.