Interview by: Troy Sanders
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO IN THE PAST YEAR?
I moved to Vermont in May of 2009. I’m working at the Rollerblade home offices in New Hampshire. Adjusting to a new home and friends. Did lots of skating at the local skatepark here in West Lebanon, NH. Also got into DH mountain biking. I live 25 minutes from the Killington ski resort, so biking and snowboarding are amazing up here.
WHAT EXACTLY INSPIRED THE CHANGE OF SCENERY?
RB wanted me to work in the home office. I was working out of my house in GA for a while, and it was time to get more involved. I had the opportunity to work under Jeremy Stonier (Co-President of RB). Jeremy is a smart guy and I figured I could progress my skills working under him. It also seemed like it was time for a change. I’m glad we did it.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A HUSBAND AND A FATHER OF TWO AND STILL BE HEAVILY INVOLVED WITH THE ROLLING INDUSTRY?
To be honest it’s really crazy some times. The skate life is all about dudes 12-25 years old. When you are that age, your priorities are totally different. In some respects it’s great, I feel like I’m much younger than other people my age because I’m exposed to the blade culture, music, art, etc. I’m 34, so going for a session at the skatepark can be strange at times. I could be the dad to the kid skating with me. LOL. Some times it’s tricky to snap out of skate mode after a long skate trip. I’ve got to bust out to dad mode, even if I’m tired from being in Europe for 3 weeks. Skate tours are rough, but fun. You skate all day, stay up for the after-party action, travel days, it’s crazy. I love being a dad, so it’s all worth it! Both my kids skate and love to go to the skatepark.
MANY KNOW YOU AS ONE OF THE CREATORS OF SKATEPILE; CAN YOU GIVE SOME INSIGHT INTO THE INCEPTION OF SKATEPILE, LIKE WHO WAS INVOLVED AND THE OVERALL HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS?
Skatepile was a reaction to getting laid off at K2 in 1998. The industry was slowing down and K2 started to cut back on spending on street-skating. All the companies at the time was doing the same thing. I always wanted to own a skate shop. I called my brother the day after I lost my job at K2 and we started to chat about what’s next. At the time, my brother was hyped on the idea and on-line stores. I went to my best friends with skills and we got going on skatepile.com. The founders were: Me (Co-president/Marketing Manager), Andy Kruse (Markting/Promotions/Team), Frankie Loscavio (Web Master/Graphic design), Steve Hyser (President), and Erin Hyser (Accounting/Customer Service). We had a bunch of different skaters work for SP; John Starr, Rob Guerrero, Tim Schmidt, etc. Skatepile was more than just a skate shop. We were also heavy on trying to grow the sport. I think we did a great job at that. We pumped the scene in the South East with the Superhick contest, skate camps, lessons, etc. We also scouted out some of the best skaters of all time: Walt Austin, Kevin Dowling, Kurt Newman, Gumby, Julian Bah, etc. It was a great time. Hard work, but fun too.
WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR POSITION AT ROLLERBLADE, AND WHAT DUTIES DOES THAT JOB ENTAIL?
My job at RB is comprised of many different things: product design of street-skates, marketing of street-skates, team management, customer service assistance (technical skate questions), warranty claims, product testing, new invention proposals and trade shows. I think that’s it?
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OF INCORPORATING YOUR PAST SKATE DESIGNS (LIKE FIZIKS OR EPOCH) INTO FUTURE ROLLERBLADE PRODUCTS?
I’ve got lots of ideas in my sketchbook, some are just not possible at the moment. For sure you will see influences from my past work. It’s not likely that a suspension frame or a frame protector type frame would do well right now. Kids are more interested in having the right colors on their skates. Hopefully street-skaters will progress in their thoughts about trying new progressive designs. There’s lots of new stuff that can be done to skates.
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS YOU HAVE TAKEN A SERIOUS ROLE IN FOSTERING FUTURE TALENTS IN ROLLERBLADING, I.E. – JULIAN BAH, DAVID SIZEMORE, AND A HUGE SELECTION OF THE ATLANTA SKATE SCENE. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO TAKE SUCH A SERIOUS FOSTERING ROLE?
I skated Pro in the early 90’s. So it’s always been fun to work with the younger skaters who are still skating at a top level. I try and give my bit of advice so they don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made or seen others make. I hate to see skaters screwing up their lives doing dumb stuff. I also feel like I have a good eye for talent. I knew J-Bah and Sizemore would be the best the first time I saw them skate at Rampage skatepark. They’re both still two of the best riders out there. It’s hard to get attached to riders you work with, they go through stages and some times those stages are not so sweet. Most Pro skaters are young guys trying to grow up with fame. There’s all kinds of factors to it. It’s really ugly when things don’t work out with skaters you’ve been working with. It’s the best to see guys you’ve helped go on to do big things. I like to work with guys I trust and get respect back from. If those two factors fall apart, it’s bad.
RECENTLY, ROLLERBLADE HAS BEEN THE TOPIC OF DEBATE CONCERNING ITS FORMER TEAM RIDERS – JULIAN BAH, RICHIE V., AND JEFF DALNAS. COULD YOU SHED SOME LIGHT AS TO WHY THERE HAS BEEN CONTROVERSY?
Rollerblade has been sponsoring skaters before any other skate company. There is a long history to that. With so many years in the game, there was bound to be issues at some point. Rollerblade has had a few different owners since it started. Basically, it’s completely different then it was back in the 90’s. There have been team managers before me and various team riders. Some of the riders were there when I got my job, others were not. When I got my job, I had to match the product and the vision I have for Rollerblade as a brand to the right skaters. My plan was to take care of a couple of riders properly. It was a real hard thing to work through. After the first year, I knew who I was communicating well with. In order to pay a few guys properly and cover their travel, I had to cut back and make some tough calls. The riders that got cut were all rippers. However, there was no point in paying a bunch of guys very little, when I could pay a few guys decently. To me it’s important to work with the guys you communicate well with. Skaters that have the same goal in mind. There’s lots of factors to choosing the right skaters. The ability to skate well is only part of it.
The thing with Julian fell apart due to his actions when we would go skate and travel. His actions were putting all of the team into situations we weren’t down with. It was a series of bad moves that lead his demise on RB. J-Bah is still one of the raddest skaters of all time. Julian was like a brother to me and it’s been really lame to deal with. I hope everything works out for the best for him. He’s a young guy going through the ups-and-downs of growing into a man.
WHAT FUTURE PLANS DO YOU HAVE IN STORE FOR ROLLERBLADE AND ITS RIDERS?
We plan on pushing new skate design and growing the sport. Showing the world how we do it. To us, it’s about having a good time with your hommies skating new spots. Not too complicated. We’re not trying too fake that we’re millionaires and acting like rappers or some kind of wanna-be rock stars. It’s all about the real skate lifestyle that most of us live in. We’re doing the same thing your skate crew does and the best part is sharing that with other skaters.