Matt McDonald: At DB Longboards I am currently the Marketing / Team / E-Commerce Manager and videographer/photographer. I am also occasionally referenced to as “Mountain Dad” due to the bear and “School Zone” because I don’t go very fast.
I am intrigued about DB’s 100% repurposing of scraps in your manufacturing process. Where does some of the stuff go?
Yep! We try to recycle everything we can. Everyone does seem to think we are all hippies up here living in the trees anyways. The scraps go to a wood recycler and they get turned into particle board and some of the scraps are turned into rock climbing holds made by our Sales Manager Nathan Pauli. We have lots of other ideas also.
What has been your favorite road trip story with the team? Can you share any highlights?
Favorite road trip this season is tough. Whistler was super fun, but I gotta go with our road trip to Santa Barbara with Garrett Creamer and Richard Docter to meet with Sean Woolery who lives down there. It was super fun to explore and capture photos with Garrett and Sean on some famous runs around Santa Barbara. It was also great to meet Tom Flichbaugh, of Santa Gnarbara, and sit in his car for some follow runs. Tom is easily one of the most talented people I have met in the industry. The only downfall was I may have eaten too many chesseburgers on that trip due to Sean introducing me to the Habit and I had to compare it to In N Out mulitple times. It was for science.
What has been the reception to DB outside the USA? Are there some places that we should know about where you are selling product?
Europe is a strong market for us and we distribute to countries all over the world. It’s also fun to connect with our European riders like, Toni Conte in Spain, to see how people receive our products across the pond and people really seem to enjoy all the boards.
What are some of your plans for Cloud Ride Wheels? Anything new coming in for 2016?
Ah yes, Cloud Ride Wheels does have some new things on the way. We are almost done perfecting our race formula in the new Storm Chasers and we also have two other new slide wheels on the way that are going through some heavy testing this week.
When you look back on 2015, is there anything you would have like to have done, but just didn’t get round to? Are you planning on doing it?
I just started this job a year ago and with everything I know now I would have liked to put on more local events and help support the event organizers. I plan on doing that much more in 2016.
Are you looking at bringing in any female riders to your team?
We are always looking for new female riders. We have Rosanne Steeneken in Europe already, but I would love to find a female-Seattle rider to join the team.
What is something that most people would find surprising about Atlas Trucks?
Atlas is about to launch a “Tinder Enabled Glove” and by that I mean the Atlas Touch Enabled Slide Gloves that I think people are really going to like. I refer to them as “Tinder Enabled Gloves” to all the single people out there, so they can work on there pick up game in-between runs (To my girlfiend and Jackson Wells girlfriend: We are not on Tinder. Don’t worry).
What upcoming skate event are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the Washington Triple Crown of Downhill on Nov. 21st. I worked as a photojournalist for a newspaper before I took this job and I really enjoy capturing events and candid moments. Should be a lot of fun. If you live anywhere near Seattle you should come. I will take your photo.
What’s the one place you’d like to take the DB team to visit?
Hawaii. I haven’t been there in several years and want to go back to do some serious longboard filming with the team.
Tonight daylight savings ends. This means more people are going to be using your lights earlier? What are your thoughts?
I, like most, have always dreaded the end of daylight savings. To get dark around 6pm is just too early to stop being able to see. But ever since creating Third Kind skate lights the setting of the sun can’t come soon enough; it means the hot sun of the day has retreated giving us bearable riding temperatures (in Florida) and less traffic. With Third Kind I know I’m lit and visible and I know everyone else riding my lights shares the same stoke. I have heard countless times from riders with my lights that they can’t wait for the sun to set so that they can go skate with their Third Kind lights. The end of daylight savings gives these riders that much more play time and that is a total stoke!
How did you come up with the idea of Third Kind?
The idea for Third Kind came from a culmination of a few sources but I can attribute the spark to a couple of friends; Ryan Stewart and Chelsea Brito. I had seen garage projects before on the internet, but after meeting them and seeing the rig in person we started thinking and designing mini assembly lines to “mass produce” the “garage model” which simply included a 9V battery, some wires, solder, glue and an over the counter LED strip.
I soon realized there had to be a better way. I had to design and create a product that would easily mount to any board and handle the riggers of skateboarding. To be a successful product and brand I had to produce a patentable product that could be mass produced and mass marketed.
How did you come up with the name?
The name was the hardest part, it came from my mom’s favorite movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind because of the out-of-this-world look the lights create. You truly look and feel as if you are riding a spaceship or a hoverboard.
What is one key thing you’d like to tell retailers who are out there and wondering if they should carry the lights in their shop?
One? Oh my, there are dozens. Oh, I know THEY SELL THEMSELVES! It is not like trying to push a board, wheels or bearings where there are hundreds of options and the ones that sell are backed by significant marketing budgets. Our product speaks for itself, just turn it on in your shop and watch your customers be drawn to them just like flies to a bug light. We have had shops sell over 100 of our lights in a single month! And that was just the original model that came in a ziploc plastic bag.
When people tell you the lights have save their life, how does that make you feel?
Proud and motivated. When creating the lights safety was not even a thought in my head; I did it because they look so darn cool. They are the closest thing to looking and feeling like Marty McFly on his hoverboard. It was not until a few months after receiving the first production model that I started receiving calls from riders that claimed my lights had saved their life.
From that moment I had an entirely new motivation; this is no longer just some rad looking gimmick, I have the ability to save fellow skater’s lives. I have to share this around the world! Our latest model received an endorsement for safety from a Sheriff’s office because a rider can be seen up to a mile away with Third Kind lights.
What has been the reaction from the longboard community? Many ride at night.
It’s a good blend of stoke and apprehension. They love the look and see the safety aspect, but they are very savvy consumers, without actually seeing and touching our kit the first thought is cheap tricks that won’t hold up to their riding or “I can make that myself”. As soon as they see our product and hear that it is skater designed, featherweight, bulletproof and very water-resistant that apprehension fades to total stoke and they quickly realize a lot of “board” meetings have gone into Third Kind Skateboard Lights. They love knowing they are seen by car drivin kooks, this allows them to relax and skate instead of constantly looking over their shoulder wondering if they are seen or they need to bail.
Is it difficult to capture the lights in photos?
No. Photographers rave about our lights because of how bright they are. They do not have to make them brighter in editing or adjust their shooting technique to capture them; we are using top of the line technologies you won’t see in other mainstream electronics for several years to come. One thing I will say though is that your simple camera or camera phones will capture them, but they will not do them justice as to how bright they truly are.
Have any skate companies contacted you to make the lights standard on their completes?
Not standard, but Local Skateboard Company, Beercan Boards, East Coast Customs CroozerBoards and STRGHT offer them as an upgrade item. We would love to have more board companies offer this because it is such a rad and potentially life saving accessory. It also really helps boost their sales because our lights bring so much attention and uniqueness to a board. A rider can instantly change and customize the look of their board with the touch of a button.
Can people outside of North America use Third Kind Lights?
Absolutely! Our latest model features USB recharging so it is completely universal. And last I checked the Sun sets to night worldwide so we don’t want to leave anyone in the dark.
Are the lights water-proof?
They are *very* water-resistant. Waterproof is a touchy word; I don’t want people to get the wrong idea and go diving with them, but if you get caught in the rain on your ride and go through some good puddles our lights are designed to handle that. We have made great improvements in this area because of our trip to the ISPO in Germany earlier this year where Europeans expressed water as a major concern for skaters due to the wetter climate. Here in Florida rain is more rare so we don’t ride in the rain; for us that is just a great way to ruin your board and bearings. As a skater though I want my lights not only to handle any riding style, but any riding climate.
What are some of your plans for 2016?
Road trips! We have a fantastic product and brand that we are constantly improving upon but most do not know that lights are available for their board and even less riders know that there is actually a kit worth a darn. Many riders hear about skateboard lights and think of the other junk available or the junk that was available in the past. Marketing our quality product is our biggest hurdle. As just a skater/surfer dude from Florida I don’t have a million dollar marketing budget (not even close) so we have to do it the old school way of road trippin to get our lights in front of as many fellow skaters as possible so that they can see it, ride it and experience it. For 2016 we want to travel and be at as many events as possible, especially longboard events. So if anyone has an event we would love to be apart of it!
Ryan Daughtridge runs Bustin Boards. It’s hard to believe that the company is about to hit its 15th anniversary next year. We featured Ryan way back in 2005 in Concrete Wave. We are pleased to feature this interview with Ryan from his top secret bunker.
When I first met you back in 2005 I seem to recall you already had some pretty amazing things cooking with the web – I know you were customizing board set ups before anyone. Where did that knowledge come from?
Founder of Bustin Ryan Daughtridge (left) with Jeff WalkerWhen I first started making boards back in 2001, my obsession was with developing better, more functional layups and shapes, but I was also interested with full aesthetic of the final product (board + graphic + trucks + wheels). Around the same Nike ID was just introduced, allowing people to customize their shoes online. As I was figuring out how to screen print the boards anyway, so I thought why not offer something different while I’m doing it. Learning to print the boards as one-offs took some time, but paled in comparison to learning how to program for the web (thanks lynda.com). Our customization process has gone through dozens of itterations since that time and we’ve just released our baddest version yet, a full HTML5 interface that works across mobile devices. We love evolving this part of our business and pushing the limits of what is possible online and in the print shop.
Bustin has come up with some fairly unique shapes – where does the inspiration for this come from?
Our initial inspiration was the city commuting. We developed designs that got us around the city faster, from point to point b. We developed forward-camber so that the most power from your push was focused on your front leg and it worked! From there several of our most popular early boards featured our forward “push” camber design and people loved them.
Of all the shapes you’ve created, which one are you the most proud of and why?
The Maestro probably takes the cake, but its success as our most popular board for 5 years straight speaks for itself. Of the other boards we’ve produced, I have a special place in my heart for the HollowCore EQ and the Sportster Mini. The EQ is just beautiful and all of our team riders love it, but it hasn’t sold as well as other boards. Its super light with an ultra comfy w-concave and has a very sexy layup harmony blending Black Limba, Maple and a our hollow-core Poplar. The Sportster Mini doesnt have the revolutionary materials or designs of other boards, but I think it is one of the most functional, most fun boards in the lineup; especially for ripping around the city. It’s small and agile, but fits a large enough wheelbase to really feel in control when you’re moving fast through traffic.
Bustin blends a variety of skateboarding into the mix. How have consumers reacted to this? A lot of longboarders are proficient at street and yet (shockingly enough) some street skaters aren’t so down with longboarding.
It’s a challenge dealing with humans, thats all. Skaters are passionate so it’s no surprise they have strong opinions about these things. Both the skate and longboard scene seem to be dominated by strong minds and strong opinions about what is what and what should be. I’ve always been pretty clear in my mind that longboarding is skateboarding. I dont like to argue about it, but I’ve always been passionate about making whatever boards our riders want to ride When the team said we want to develop good street decks, I said for sure. Breaking into skateboarding isnt easy, but we’re not really trying to. Over time, we’ve built an awesome little crew of street skaters, mostly in NYC, and they speak for themselves. We spent a long time develop our street decks and the riders were super picky. Chapman came through with the good wood and everyone was stoked. I’m really proud of our new street decks and I’m always waiting for the response of skaters who pick them up to try. “Wow, thats actually really sick” is the response I normally get after they shred it for a few minutes.
When you look back on this past year, is there anything you would change?
Yeah, there are always things, but you have to learn lessons. Overall, I’m bent on the idea of “focus” right now. We tried to do a lot of things during the last few years as the markets exploded. We mistakenly thought that we could be everything to everyone, and we ate it majorly on a few projects. Jack of all trades, master of none? Going forward we bleed Bustin and only Bustin; and we’re excited about all of the cool products and ideas that are in the hopper headed into next year. We’ll be focusing the products we love and selling them through the partners we like working with.
What does “For All Who Push” mean to you?
It means you go for it. Say what you think and do what you believe. I started this company because I had a vision and went for it. At every stage along the way, there has been that moment where you’re on the cliff and you realize its safer to step back and setup camp; but we always jump. The adventure works itself out when you believe in what you’re doing and you go for it. The term “For All Who Push” worked because our foundation is in the ‘push’ scene, but the brand statement is about confidence and determination no matter what we do. We want to inspire people and we built the campaign around that idea; hopefully it has.
What are some things you have planned for your shop in Brooklyn and the Longboard Loft in Manhattan for this holiday season?
First of all, we’re negotiating with God in hopes of receiving a less brutal winter than the last two years. Anyone in east coast skateboard retail is terrified heading into this winter and we’re trying to cover our basis to make sure we have proper inventory levels and staffing in place. Other than that, its business as usual for the most part. We’re discussing having a few parties, including a premier at the Brooklyn Shop of the LGC Open video.
Describe a typical day….do you get a chance to skate with the amount of things you are working on?
My days start early. I like sneaking out before the kids are up and getting into the office early before the phone starts ringing. After 9am, anything is possible and I’m a 50/50 split between a designer and a firefighter. On a perfect day I’ll be in creative mode as much as possible, coming up with marketing ideas, designing graphics or working with the team on product development. Sprinkled in I’m putting out fires, otherwise known as problem solving. Running a small business is no joke, you need to accept that you’re going get stressful things hurled out you out of nowhere all of the time. At the end of the day, I believe life is too short to get too stressed and I try to enjoy the challenges. Overall, I’m a pretty competitive chap so when there isn’t something challenging to tackle, then I’m looking for someone to play me in ping-pong. I’m currently ranked #2 in the company (f you Jeff).
As for skating, I get a lot in when I’m in New York, but its a struggle when I’m at the warehouse in Maryland. My kids are young and my life is insane here in the suburbs. Our office and warehouse arent situated in the most skate friendly area and suburban drivers are scary when you’re on a narrow shoulder (lots of texting). We’re working on adding a location in Baltimore and I’m excited about learning the skatescape of the city so I can get more pushing in during my work-week.
Do you receive a lot of sponsorship inquiries? What’s the best way to get sponsored by Bustin?
Yeah we do and its hard to give them all proper attention. To me the best way to get what you want is to be clever, not just talented. When some kid sends an email cc’ing every company in the industry with a generic statement saying “I really want to ride for your company, watch my video”, it usually goes like… DELETE. I like people who are more creative and more direct. When Bruno first showed up at Bustin he skated into the store and showed us a trick and then said, “lets go make a video”. We shot his first video that day.
I know that Mike Dallas has been a key member of the Bustin team. What are your thoughts about his contribution?
Mike has been key to the brand in several ways. First of all, he’s the connector of connectors. Most of our top-teir team riders have been carried in through the arms of Mike D. He’s also super OG when it comes to the NYC scene and has been very influencial. Our friends the Davenports won’t mind me saying that Mike was the one who coined the term “Push Culture” back around 2009. We actually trademarked the term, but gave it to those guys out of respect when they were getting their line of amazing apparel off the ground. Mike is like an oracle of skating and can rattle off an opinion about any aspect of it at a moments notice. Back around 2008, when he first started coming around the Bustin shop I used to pick his brain, asking him to just ramble on certain topics and I’d digest it and come up with ideas based on his insight. To this day, he’s still that guy and he’s an awesome partner to have as we tackle the next phase of the industry and our brand. If you’re down with Bustin, you’re probably closest with Mike D and I’m ok with that. He represents the heart and soul of the company and we wouldnt be where we are today with him.
Steve Douglas has an incredible skate history. He has been a major creative force with many different skate companies.
Currently he oversees some pretty big brands including Dusters and Kryptonics Wheels, Almost, Blind, Cliche, Darkstar , Dusters, Enjoi, Zero, Fallen Shoes, Tensor Trucks and Andale bearings. We had a chance to interview him from his home in Southern California.
For those younger skaters who might not know much about you, can you please give us some background?
I grew up in England skating pools and ramps. I moved to California at the age of 17 with one goal to turn pro. I turned pro for Schmitt Stix in 1987. In 1990, I co-founded New Deal with Andy Howell and Paul Schmitt and was a pro for them. I made the first 3 ND videos.
In 1992 I retired from being pro after a near fatal car crash where I went head on with a semi-truck and a Suburban. In that same year we started Underworld Element (later to become Element) then went on to start Mad Circle, Golden State Wheel Co, 411 video magazine, Destructo trucks and On video with many different partners. I left all that behind in 2002 and took a few years to be with my young family. I went back to Work at Dwindle in 2005 and been here ever since.
When the decision came to bring back to Kryptonics, who were some of the people you were aiming at?
It was really aimed all skateboarders but a focus on the older skaters that remembered what an impact they made to skateboarding. We also felt the current downhill, slalom and cruiser guys would be stoked when they tried a set out, and they were.
Yogi Berra famously said “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be” Do you feel that history and nostalgia is a key part in a skaters persona? Why is this?
Yes, I think so. It blows me away really. For example, I’ll put up a post of my daughter or my son I may get 5-10 likes or comments. When I put an old picture of me skating, I get a hundred or more. I think people like to connect back to a part of their lives that was carefree and some may say the most fun without the stresses of older more structured life.
What are some brands you’d like to revive from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s?
Good question. I grew up in England so I would have to say Benji boards from the 70’s For the 80’s, I would have to say Schmitt stix when Lucero took over the art direction and Grosso was on the team. For the 90’s, New Deal, as that was entrance to the business side and so much fun and I got to work with so many incredible skaters.
Dwindle has worldwide distribution. I am interested in some places where your skateboards wind up…any surprises or curious places?
Yes I love this too, nothing makes me happier than shipping to new countries some more stranger ones are Greenland, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania and UAE. We sell to over 60 countries worldwide.
The baby boomers grandchildren are still fairly young but they definitely will impact skateboarding…and yet there seems to a huge desire for scooters. What’s your take?
Regular Skateboarding is so hard; kids have a short attention span. I remember reading an old ad that P-Rod was talking about every day coming home from school and trying to learn a kick flip. Now you would think that he learnt it pretty quickly so I am so glad he did not stop. So many other kids I am sure have stopped and they take the easier road and that to me is a scooter. They can just get on and cruise without much effort. You could look it also as a training wheel that eventually leads to a skateboard and that’s what I like to think.
Of all the Kryptonics colors you came out with, which ones proved to be the most popular? I am guessing blue.
Reds are #1, they were back in the day and they are again now
You have some new wheels coming out…can you give us a little bit of info on them?
We are starting to introduce some limited edition colors/duros first up are the orange 84a and pinks in 80a, these will come out in March 2016 but again they will be limited edition and then later in the year some more…
You just celebrated a birthday – what ran through your mind as you realized you’ve probably spent more time riding skateboards, thinking about skateboards and working in the skate industry than pretty much anything else in your life?
I started skating when I was 9 years old I just turned 48 last weekend. It blows me away when I go to the trade shows and I say “wow I have been doing this since 1985!” I have some skate friends that I have known and are still skating that I met in 1977!
As part of the interview process, all subjects are allowed to ask me five questions. Below are Steve’s questions and my answers.
What was your first board? And where did you buy it from?
Believe it or not, my first board came from Woolco here in Canada. It must have been dead stock from the 1960’s. The reason being it had clay wheels.
When did you get your first set of Kryptonics? What size and color and what did you think of them?
My first set was 1979. It was set of Blue 65’s. I absolutely adored them – not too hard and not too soft.
What do you think of the trend in re-issuing iconic brands/products?
It bridges a few concepts. For older skaters, it’s a nice way of reliving the past. For younger skaters, it is a way to understand the history of skateboarding in very cool way.
Finally, for the brands that are forgotten, it is a way to reclaim their rightful place. I see it as a triple win.
What are your favorite 3 deck brands ever and why?
G&S FibreFlex. This was a very big deal in the 1970’s and the gold standard for many of those who rode in that era.
Dogtown. The graphics were insanely cool and the boards shapes were revolutionary.
I’ll pause here for a minute and sadly disclose the fact that I actually misplaced BOTH of these decks that I owned!
Finally, I am going to go with the Powell Peralta Kevin Harris model. I spent hours practicing on this board and thanks to Kevin, was able to do the research on my book Concrete Wave.
What has been your favorite skate trip and why?
I have had a number of great skate trips. The best ones have been with my two sons – among my favorite was visiting the coast of California and hitting Colorado and New Mexico. They were just a fantastic mix of bonding and spectacular skateparks.
Of the posts you put out on instagram in the past several months, which one got the biggest response?