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Whatcom native and ‘Shark Tank’ veteran to appear on ‘20/20’

Stephan Aarstol of Tower Paddle Boards and his son, Alex. Aarstol’s company is scheduled to be in an ABC ‘20/20’ episode about ‘Shark Tank’ success stories.
Stephan Aarstol of Tower Paddle Boards and his son, Alex. Aarstol’s company is scheduled to be in an ABC ‘20/20’ episode about ‘Shark Tank’ success stories. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Whatcom County native and “Shark Tank” veteran is in an upcoming “20/20” television episode.

Last week, Stephan Aarstol, founder and CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, was interviewed by ABC’s news show for an episode titled “Shark Tank: The Road to $100 million.” The episode will focus on deals made over the years on the show, which has hit the $100 million mark in eight seasons, according to a news release from ABC. A spokeswoman for the show confirmed Tower Paddle Boards will be on.

The episode will feature Shark Tank’s greatest hits, biggest misses and behind-the-scenes moments, according to the news release. The “20/20” episode is scheduled to run at 10 p.m. Friday on the ABC channel. For those unfamiliar with “Shark Tank,” an episode will run at 9 p.m. Friday on ABC.

$7.5 millionTotal sales for Tower Paddle Boards in 2016

Aarstol, who was born in Bellingham, grew up in Whatcom County, went to Mount Baker High School and graduated from Western Washington University in 1996 with a degree in business administration. He is one the show’s success stories, appearing in 2012 – though he recently told Business Insider magazine “I’m known as the worst pitch on ‘Shark Tank’ who still landed a deal.”

He was able to convince billionaire Mark Cuban to invest $150,000 in the company. Since that time, Tower Paddle Boards, which is based in San Diego, has made more than $24 million in sales, including $7.5 million in 2016.

While paddle boards are still the main focus of the company, Tower Paddle Boards recently started getting into beach accessories. New products include snorkels, sunglasses and clothing. The company also has a beach lifestyle online publication, Tower Magazine. Aarstol also wrote a book, “The Five Hour Workday,” giving tips on working productively between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

While he still communicates regularly with Cuban by email, Aarstol said the company is moving beyond that pivotal Shark Tank moment and creating its own identity. One area of growth for the company is through licensing deals. Tower Paddle Boards has also experienced success on Amazon.com, at one point making $375,000 in sales in one day during a daily deal promotion.

The company is also looking to grow beyond the U.S. market. While about 90 percent of the company’s sales are in the United States, Aarstol said he is seeing growth in Europe. Particularly popular is the company’s inflatable paddle board, which is easier to store and transport than the regular paddle board.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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