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AXS

PROFILE

By Bud Smith

MR. GRIPTAPE Meet the Man Who Helped Cover 30 Million Skateboards

I

skateboarded in the summer of 1964 with my brother, Jim. We each had a skateboard that our parents had bought for us. They were laminated oak planks about 17”-18” long and about 4 ½”-5” wide – hardly comparable to skateboards made today. The trucks and wheels were steel and were obviously taken from roller skates. Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun on those skateboards. But we lost interest, as we lived in a small town without sidewalks, with roads composed of tar with pea gravel. The hot summer weather would soften the tar and the constant traffic would drive the pea gravel into it. Little did I know that riding that skateboard back in 1964 would one day give me the opportunity to become a significant part of this incredible skateboard industry and culture. My reintroduction to skateboarding began innocently enough, back in the summer of 1984. At that time, I was working for a small manufacturing company located in McHenry, Illinois, that made and sold abrasive, nonskid tapes. I was selling tapes to Caterpillar, John Deere, J.I. Case, Komatsu, Toro, Boeing, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Universal Gym, as well as to manufacturers of running boards, fitness equipment and riding mowers. One day I came home from work one day to find my 10-yearold son, Tod, sitting on the front step of our home with his friend Jason, who was visiting from Florida. As I walked up to the steps, I noticed a skateboard lying upside down on the front sidewalk — a Vision deck with pink wheels. As soon as I turned the deck over, I noticed the incredible amount of grip tape on the top of the deck. I asked Jason about the skateboard, and he told me that skateboarding was really big in Florida and a lot of the kids were into it. “Where can I get more information on skateboarding?” I asked. This skateboard and grip tape was a whole new market, and they used a lot of grip tape! Jason told me that Thrasher magazine was the bible of skateboarding, so that’s where I started. Where could I find this Thrasher magazine, though? There was no Internet, so I looked at

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AXS LONGBOARD RETAILER | WINTER 2011

AXS Longboard Retailer  

for those who wish to learn about the business of selling and marketing longboards

AXS Longboard Retailer  

for those who wish to learn about the business of selling and marketing longboards