Catching up with… Karl Meyer

Visit Us

Performance Designs recently announced the promotion of Karl Meyer to the coveted position of PD’s Marketing Manager. Karl is a 4-way, big-way & fun-way enthusiast who’s been jumping for over 22 years...

Karl Meyer, photo by Zach Lewis

Karl, congratulations on the new appointment! What do you think were the deciding factors in PD’s choice?

Dashing good looks?! In all honesty, I’m sure that with what I have brought to PD over the years in the various positions and marketing knowledge it felt the right move for the company. 

What positions have you held with PD? 

I first joined PD in late 2008 as their US based European Tour Rep, the plan was for me to travel to Europe a few times a year and supplement the current EU Tour. Outside of that primary role, I also helped from time on the US tour events, and was part of a strong marketing team during my time at PD. I left PD in 2011 to go run Marketing at Skydive Arizona.

2016 saw me return to PD to take up the role of Sponsorship Coordinator. Having spent over a decade working in and around the sport and my vast connections with both US and EU based athletes, the transition to this role was easy.

You’ve been a driving force in the PD sponsorship program – for all those Wannabe-PD-Sponsored-Athletes out there, any advice on what you’re looking for in a sponsored athlete?

The million-dollar question … I did a seminar at PIA about sponsorship, and my focus was on how we as skydivers can build our own brand (who you are) within the community, with social media and quick access to people. Being a strong part of the community, educating, teaching, inspiring, mentoring and having a great attitude will in time be recognized by those around you. And that’s what brands want to be aligned to, your journey in the sport. 

Ready to take the marketing reins at PD

I’m intrigued by life on the road with the PD European demo tour, what sort of education does that give you about the different DZs? 

Oh, life on the road. As a native English-speaking person, travel around Europe was at times challenging. It however gave me so much in terms of understanding the sport and customer base in Europe, and how diverse it is from country to country, and DZ to DZ. There are many similarities amongst skydivers around the world. The passion, excitement and love we share not only for the sport, but towards each other. 

I’ve been blessed with those opportunities over the years and it has helped shape me as a skydiver and also as a member of the PD marketing team, be it a sponsorship coordinator or team leader. I hope to be as inspiring to the team here as others have been to me. 

When and where did you start jumping?

I was born in Namibia and raised in South Africa where I started my skydiving career in 1998 out of a Cessna 206 on a static line jump. I went back up the same day and did jump number 2. I moved to the US in June 2006.

Jumping over The Palm at Skydive Dubai during the Dubai Cup
Photo by Naomi Kotzee

You competed for over a decade in 4-way, tell us about that. 

I had about 77 jumps and started to find skydiving a little boring. I felt that I was not progressing, and each jump just felt the same. I did not feel I was a competitive person in terms of sports, maybe other aspects of my life. One day I saw a 4-way team land and walk in with all the fancy matching gear, watched them dirt dive, debrief and I was, like, ‘WHAT IS THIS?!’. By jump 100 I was on a 4-way rookie team with Beavery Cosslett, Amy Kirkland and Vana Gulliver. Vana was our player coach and she has gone onto to achieve great things in the sport. So have Beverly and Amy.

Do you have a favourite 4-way competition? 

My favorite competition would be the year we won the Rookie class as it was 10 rounds of pure clarity with some of my favorite people in the world. The other would be the opportunity to represent South Africa in Dubai for the Dubai Cup, jumping over the Palm.

The Phoenix formation flying over Skydive Deland
Photo by Gustavo Cabana

You’ve done many complicated big-ways, what are the most memorable?

The most challenging was the Flight of the Phoenix event at Skydive Deland. We spent a few days struggling with getting the base to exit and then build the formation, and if I recall the jump was completed on the last jump on the last day.

Some of the Arizona Challenge jumps have been fun, tested my skills and made me thankful that I was entrusted to be a small part in the bigger picture.

My favorite would be the 4th July jumps, run by Doug Barron, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez out at SDC. The combination of close friends, good skydives, amazing facilities and world class coaches make each jump fun & stress-free. I’m excited to go back in 2021 and do it all again.

Do you have a motto, or favorite quotation?

Not so much a motto or quote, more an idea: be kind to others, it costs nothing. Know how your actions affect others.

What’s your pet hate? Inside and outside the sport

Toggle/brake fires and mass-produced beer.

Karl, getting his groove on, at Skydive Arizona
Photo by Bill Schmitz

Describe yourself in 5 words or less

Funny, Dedicated, Loyal, Passionate and Driven

You clearly love working for PD, why is that? 

Culture… PD has always had a great culture, how the treat their staff, to how we have been mentored by managers over the years. And the bonus is that it is within an industry that I am passionate about. Getting people to find the perfect wing for them, and hopefully it’s a PD wing.

What advice would you have about choosing the perfect wing?

Demo, Demo, Demo … take your time to find the right canopy for you. Don’t just accept what you’re told is the right one, try them all out and get canopy coaching. You’ll thank yourself later on as you progress.

I think it’s fair to say Performance Designs is the largest manufacturer in skydiving, how did PD become that? 

I think it can be attributed to the dream of flight that Bill [Coe] & John [leBlanc] have had over the decades of making parachutes. And staying true to some core values about designing parachutes.

Karl loves ‘a sneaky lunchtime jump with friends’
Photo by Alex Swindle

You have a background in marketing, tell us about that 

I worked in advertising for a decade, as an art director for a series of ad agencies in South Africa, before transitioning full time to working within the skydiving industry. 

Who works with you in PD’s marketing department? 

We have a young team right now, they are all eager and about as passionate as I am about the sport.

  • Kyle runs our in-house demo program
  • Rachel is the merchandise guru
  • Jess is our soon to-be-baptized US tour rep
  • Scott runs the graphics and web stuff
  • Dedric is our PD European rep
  • Hans heads up the European Tour
  • Hollie-Blue is our social media extraordinaire 
  • Zach Sabel is our newly appointed Sponsorship Coordinator

I’m excited about what we can do in the coming years, taking our passion and drive and molding it into awesome things. We have so much potential.

The Arizona Challenges are some of Karl’s favorite events
Photo, AZ Challenge 2011, by Juan Mayer

What do you want to achieve in the next 1-2 years in the role?

Continue to grow the PD brand, introduce new and old jumpers to our product line. And create a culture here that expands out of the office and onto the DZ and to our friends.

What’s the biggest challenge that lies ahead?

Today’s market is filled with quality skydiving gear, and the challenge is going to be to market your brand and products to a wider and more diverse audience than ever before. It’s ever-changing, so being adaptable is key.

It seems like Living the Dream to work in skydiving, but it can turn your sport into work. What do you do to keep your personal joy alive? 

Keep jumping, get out to the DZ and get on a load. It’s easy to be exhausted at the end of a 40hr+ week of talking skydiving… But that green light in the airplane kicks the motivation into high gear… and a sneaky lunchtime jump with friends helps break up the week

The Sabre3 canopy in action
Photo by Performance Designs

Tell us about the Sabre3 project

I was lucky to have been part of some of the test jumps so watching the Sanbre3 develop over time was rewarding. Seeing the passion in the project leads’ faces as they nerd out on all things canopies, is truly is a fun experience. Our team at PD sure has a great group of people, I’m excited at what lies ahead.

What would you say is the biggest misconception in canopy flight? 

Now, this could get messy. I think the concept of “ideal wingloading” or seeing newer jumps rush to a 1.0 Wing loading is scary when applied incorrectly. And that people think they need to be on a specific canopy to be cool or feel validated. Jump what you like in a size you feel safe on, and we should not judge anyone for that. Educate and ask questions, seek coaching. 

What’s our biggest safety problem? 

Complacency… you know it when you see it and you know when you are. 

And what can we do about it? 

Be honest with yourself and those around you.

Anything you would like to add?

I’m thankful for every teammate that trained and competed with me, all the DZOs who hired me to load organize and the friends I have made along the way. Our sport is amazing and so inclusive, and I cannot think of a community I would rather be surrounded by.

Karl, photo bomb king, during the US Nationals
Photo by Ron Shipp
Visit Us

Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

Contact Me

    Scroll to Top