February 13, 2017
The flow and feeling of surfing is only a Hamboard® away…
Hamboards® is a street-ready skateboard that captures the essence of surfing – the skateboards that really feel like surfing. Their motto is “Ride the Pave.”
Each Hamboard model is known for its high quality, handcrafted style and a surfboard-like feel and look. In the surfing community they are known as the closest thing to surfing on land.
Hamboards was founded in 2003 and is operated by the Hamborg family in Huntington Beach, Calif. Pete, 52, the patriarch of this surfing family, is helped by his five lifeguard sons: Gus, Anders, Chapman, Jachin, and Moses. Their mother, Kathy, keeps everyone in line and surfs as well. Holding true to a family style business, cousin Don Sandusky manages the business from the East Coast office, while family friend Basil Krikelis keeps them all legal. Whenever possible, the East Coast team sneaks out to the West Coast for a surfer’s version of a “board meeting.”
Hamboards were initially designed around the Hamborg’s kitchen table and inside their garage. And truth be told, for a long time it was just an overgrown hobby until early 2012 when the transition to being a true business started to occur (surfers take note: this transition stuff is not a totally “stokable” process).
Currently this little family-run company that grew out of a garage down near the beach is selling Hamboards worldwide. The Hamborgs have stayed true to their roots and Hamboards are a fresh and authentic surf/skate brand.
Never designing a “product” but always making a board that they wanted to ride themselves, the Hamboard clan refused to compromise on quality and craftsmanship in every detail. Not realizing “you shouldn’t” design a skateboard the way they have…they went ahead and did it anyway…and came up with something ground breaking.
The result? No matter where you are – the flow and feeling of surfing is only a Hamboard away. There is a little bit of surfer in almost all of us, and everyone has a “California Dream” of one sort or another. When you ride a Hamboard suddenly your body takes your mind to that place in your imagination where you are cruising down the face of a glassy peeling sun-kissed wave in front of a white sand beach thick with palm trees. We know of nothing else that has this magic. Hamboards has the “lightning in a bottle” when it comes to capturing the surfing experience.
To get the biggest selection of Hamboards for purchase you can go to www.hamboards.com. You can also visit upscale surf lifestyle retailers like Huntington Surf and Sport, Ron Jons, Maui and Sons, Aqua East, East of Maui, PB Boys Club, Trident Surf, Maui Nix, and Surf Station – they all carry Hamboards.
For Hamboards rental opportunities check out Jacks on the Beach in Huntington Beach, and Sailing Crazy in New Caney, Texas.
Hamboard riders are already planning something new. With the new Hamboard designed land-paddle, called the Streetsweeper®, the connection with Stand Up Paddleboarding is locked in tight. Suddenly the flow and feel of Stand Up Paddleboarding, plus the excellent workout and fitness challenge, is now as accessible and convenient as grabbing your Hamboard and Streetweeper and hopping on.
The original HAMBOARDS®… Ride The Pave was posted on InventionsStories.com back in November, 2013. We contacted Don Sandusky, Principle at Hamboards and asked him to answer the following questions:
If you had the idea for Hamboards today, what would you have done different?
“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”, Alexander Pope, 1711. So many layers to that great quote… Hamboards started as a garage hobby about 10 years ago, but the Hamboards company just turned 5. Since we decided to be a company, my single biggest regret is wasting so much time admiring our own beautiful navels and expecting our popularity to motivate the institutional USA retail sales channels to breath our business to life! Yes, we hit the Shark Tank jackpot and we continue to enjoy an outsized, active and engaged social media platform, but being authentic and popular is only a part of business success. If I could roll back the clock to 2012, we could have saved a lot of blood sweat and tears with an immediate and relentless focus deriving a viable/scalable supply chain, engaging a reliable fulfillment center and building a viable direct to consumer “e-commerce machine”. I wouldn’t have wasted nearly so much time, talents and treasure trying to force small-scale manufacturing and pursuing the institutionalized USA Sports Retail sales channel… But then again, we didn’t know what we didn’t know back then.
In what stores and websites can they be found in and how did you make it happen?
In the USA, our primary direct sales channel is our online marketplace, www.hamboards.com and our own Amazon marketplace. Direct sales require intensive focus on product quality, customer service, inventory management and in order to manage it all… a fully synchronized information Technology is critical here. Pioneering through direct sales ain’t easy, but at least we have an opportunity for direct dialog with our own enthusiasts. Our retail shop in Huntington Beach has been great for sinking local roots, but everything in Southern California is administratively cumbersome and very expensive, so the HamShop is far from a financial success. As for the wholesale route, the USA Sports Retail marketplace has been a train-wreck for ~3 years running and the USA Distribution and Specialty Shop approach have been similarly dubious… From our perspective, there’s only consolidation and more pain ahead.
Outside the USA, our primary sales have been through pioneering… what we call Official Brand Importers, who represent our brand online and sell direct to consumers via web and through their own retail shops. We are starting to find success with a handful of traditional territory distributors as well. Our best markets have been Iberia, UK, Scandinavia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Outside the USA, we sell EXW, which is great business if you can get it. We’ll be at ISPO Munich February 4-8, 2017. Come see us at B6.424 in the surf skate longboard embassy.! (https://www.facebook.com/LongboardEmbassy/)
What is the most challenging obstacle you face today and what is your approach to overcoming it?
No revelation in the fact that the top handful board sports equipment distributors command the majority of revenue and profits, so long as their institutions are aligned and disciplined. In that steady-state, start-up’s, like Hamboards, are worthy of investment because strategic partnerships are reasonably common and additive… But when the industry Commanders fail, the pioneers suffer even worse.
The traditional USA Retail sales channel has been in absolute shambles while it restructures and reacts to e-commerce. The little guys get hurt the worst… and here’s how… The small brands are often consigned at these large retailers. Bankrupt retailers are liquidating consigned sporting goods in their shops (e.g., 50%-40% discount) and the Courts are agreeing to Terms of Settlement such that the Retailer pays the manufacturers 60% of the proceeds… So: 50% of retail price * 60% = 30%, which probably is below the innovative manufacturers costs of goods sold. The small branded innovators can’t even claw-back their own consigned inventory to sell themselves. (http://www.kccllc.net/sportsauthority/document/1610527160401000000000029, pages 5 to 8). These innovators are at the end of the line and hardly stand a chance. That math inverts most of the small and innovative equipment manufacturers that relied upon these Retailers. The board sports industry, by its very design, is thriving with innovation, competition and freshness. Leadership has failed the industry when innovation is ignored and pioneers are discouraged.
It’s still problematic. Now,.. the primary board sports manufacturers and distributors have full warehouses, so they’re cramming inventory down through all manner of discounted sales channels. The current cadre of industry leaders seem to be desperately groping between each other for bigger slices of a shrinking pie. I think of it like they stuck big straw inside a blueberry pie and sucked half the insides out and now they’re fighting over the slices. None of this is because of a lack of innovation or consumer demand… but because that’s how the industry has been managed. Distributors are competing against Retailers while Manufacturers are attempting to go direct in effort to end-run the entire mess. Amazing… These circumstances are debilitating the start-ups and sports equipment innovators. Specialty retailers who operate with limited cash flow anyway, are flooded with copy-cat product lines and liquidation promotions… All of this may seem necessary to CFO’s and bankers but, but these tactics are damaging to the entire industry. Over the last two years there have been myriad restructuring (bankruptcies) of sports equipment retailers, and some of the admirable few of the better managed retailers, like Big 5 (https://sgbonline.com/big-5-sees-q4-earnings-reaching-high-end-of-guidance/) have captured value.
Hamboards approach to avoiding the herd mentality has been what I call the “prairie dog approach”… We keep working on authentic innovation and direct sales. We pop-up opportunistically when it’s clear and keep our heads down otherwise. We actually have a working company so Hamboards continues to focus on innovative product and communication with our enthusiasts. We are fortunate to connect with an admittedly small group of enthusiastic customers, but they are worldwide and we benefit by a highly relevant and engaged direct dialog. It’s way more work, and much smaller-scale than we would like, but at least we’re not charging off a financial cliff.
If your readers know of or have a niche surf/skate/board sports product, and a brand that fits with the HAMBOARDS lifestyle… and you would like to explore a fit with us to reach direct to consumer marketplaces, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We think that an authentic, niche business doesn’t necessarily need to be limited to location, but you must face facts: the USA Retail channel is in shambles and AMAZON has already established the consumer expectation standard for direct to consumer e-sales. So, if you’re going to step-up to running a worldwide, direct to consumer niche marketplace, you better 1) have a scalable and reliable supply solution, 2) have a reliable fulfilment and customer service solution, 3) master synchronized information technology and 4) embrace the fact that the world is truly flat! At Hamboards, purely by necessity, we’ve mastered this approach (in a very small but scalable way) and we’re looking forward to adding more innovative niche brands to our rapidly expanding marketplaces.