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?
The Guajataca Downhill in Puerto Rico has a rich history and is about to hits its tenth anniversary this January.
Concrete Wave is proud to be a media sponsor of this event and encourage you to head out to the sun of PR.
We will be featuring a story about the event in our November issue, but for a little more background, we reached out to Joel Cardona, one of the key organizers of the event.
What is the first thing people should know about this event?
Joel: First I would say is that this is one of the most attended Downhill events in the world. It is important to know that the GDH has grown and evolve into a skateboarding cultural celebration. Finally, we have great weather. No snow… just warm beaches nearby and beautiful nature.
How would you describe the culture of Puerto Rico…what if I don’t speak Spanish?
Puerto Ricans lovevisitors. They love to show off their culture along with their food and all the beautiful sites. If you don’t speak Spanish it’s ok because almost everyone knows English up… to a certain degree. Is not a big deal you will survive!
Is it expensive to attend the event?
This will depend on where are you coming from. But the area has inexpensive hotels that range from $50 to a $100 a night. Food is quite affordable in this area. There are lots oflittle paradores (luxury hotel) and guest houses that can make your stay really affordable and pleasant.
What is one highlight from the past decade – a great story you can share with our readers?
Well the event production is a BIG endeavor. It takes a full year of work to make ithappen, So each year brings different challenges. People don’t know but what happens backstage is good enough to have our own reality show. I mean just dealing with sponsors is quite dramatic, but I guess this is part of running a successful event. I believe that the greatest story is how this event grew into an international event and put a small town like Quebradillas on the world map of extreme sports. It is story of unexpected success and organic growth.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about Puerto Rico?
I would have to say that many people don’t even know where the island is located. Some people have asked me “in what part of Mexico is Puerto Rico found?”
A lot of people get surprised when they realize that PR is a Caribbean island and a United States territory. This means that if you are American, you don’t need a passport to travel. Some [people think that is not a safe place but I have to tell you is just like any city. I would say that is a pretty safe country and even more on the west area far away from the metropolitan area.
Thank you Joel. We wish you great success for the 2016 event!
Sector 9 put together some great highlights of the 2015 event. Have a peek here.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico is about 90 minutes away from Quebradillas.
- Flights from NYC are on sale right now for $304.
- Flights from LA to Puerto Rico are coming at $424.
- TripAdvisor – rental info