Why we started SUPSKATE
by Don Sandusky (Head "gear guy" at Hamboards and SUPSKATE)
We do it for us because it's fun, makes us feel alive and we need to share it.
We do it for athletes because they deserve purpose-built gear that gives them every advantage to achieve.
We do it for everyone else because it gets 'em on boards, spreading the stoke, with every stroke.
My personal connection:
I need to play. It's not a want, it's a core desire. For as long as I can remember, I could skate on anything and ride most any kind of board, and I intend to keep doing it all. I love to ride skateboards, especially deep lean carving skateboards.
Engineers like to solve problems. I have a personal connection to the task at hand. At my age, what’s hard about longboard cruising is foot pushing. Stepping down off the board, to push myself along is getting awkward for me. I need to bend and drop down in order to to foot push off the ground, while my other foot is connected to “greased lightning”. I'm also not getting the upper body workout I feel like I need. I do play ice hockey regularly, but that doesn't give me much shoulder and upper body work. Weight lifting isn't "play" for me, so I need something fun that's going to force me to develop stronger upper body muscles.
By adding the pole, I can start-off with a couple easy pushes, then get both feet on the board, and start paddling. It's comfortable and feels safe to me. The pole makes it all work. There’s no need to push with my feet when I can paddle/pole with my arms, back and core. It was far easier to pick up than I expected. Once I got the hang of it, there were all kinds of disciplines to explore. I could carve and freestyle in small spaces or I could charge off on distance excursions. Either way, it’s been a great arm/shoulder workout without feeling like work. It’s super fun and keeps my balance tuned-up too.
In full disclosure, currently I can't skateboard without the pole, cause due to a recent ice hockey injury, my ACL (knee) is gone till I get a new one installed. At the moment, I can barely push off on a skateboard. But, even at 55 years old, without an ACL, I can actually skate with my pole for about two hours without stopping, ~20 miles. Might not be "wicked smaht", but I'm still getting my play time!
If feels like we're the right group of people, at the right time, because we are already in the skateboard business, and have the skills and specific experience to create poles and skateboard gear that's purpose-built for this sport. Recent developments in our HST 2.0 truck system (new pivot axes and hanger widths) is enabling specialized skateboards that flat-out swim when you pump them. Further, and more importantly, this seems to be trending into a competitive sport. There's actually a 24 hour endurance competition at a NASCAR track every year in Miami. People are putting up hundreds of miles at a time. That's a huge motivator... I mean, in the course of human history, how many people actually get to play significant roles building a new competitive sport? Far as I know, most of us will only live one earthly life, so we just can't pass this up. It is a huge challenge because in addition to superb gear, it takes community groups, multiple activations, locations, competitive events and most importantly, athletes. What a worthy purpose!
As for me I'm hopeless tinkerer and sports equipment gear guy. After studying Mechanical Engineering and Polymer Science, I was a research fellow at NASA. What followed was a very rewarding decade career in corporate life. They sold my business to another huge company, and I realized that I was an "asset to be traded". That's when I hung-up my pleated khakis and started doing my own thing. Within five years, I invented four new "things" and sold my sports gear company to one of the major sports equipment/footwear companies. They also hired me as head of product where I had an absolute blast for a couple years. But... I had already tasted independence. I had enough treasure to take care of my family and a little left over, so I left a "dream job" to follow my own curiosity. I'm only going to live once, and I would rather regret taking chances than not. Sometimes, to build beautiful things it takes all of what a creator has. I decided to go full-time. It's taken grit, time, talent and treasure to arrive here, and it's finally getting good...
Why the SUPSKATE® brand?
So after 10 years of gear development, and acknowledging the obvious trend, the Hamboards team has realized that SUPSKATE is its "own thing".
SUPSKATE® is Hamboards® prodigy, benefiting from the security of a doting Hamboards business team that wants to help it achieve its full potential.
This new brand needs to be resourced for success, and supported by Hamboards. The two brands clients do overlap, but each brand deserves its own voice. Hamboards® are bitchin' deep-lean longboard surf trainers and surfskates. SUPSKATE® is performance skate poling gear, that enables athletes to compete and makes skateboarding more accessible.
How did we learn about this and decide to get involved?
When we founded Hamboards in 2012, I actually had no idea how to ride those huge skateboards. Pushing off on those big heavy boards and loose trucks was terrifying. Happily, my cousin Pete had a couple 7 foot long bamboo sticks with a T-handle on one end and a rubber dog toy jammed onto the lower end. That changed everything for me. All of the sudden, I could actually ride Hamboards, or any skateboard, and it was really fun. It made me feel like a kid and I smiled for days.
I have fond memories of early mornings when Pete and I would meet at the shop, grab our Hammy's and sticks, then casually cruise north along the Huntington Beach boardwalk toward the pier. Those sticks were heavy and stiff, but they totally stoked our flow, like riding a REALLY long wave. Yes, it's just like you might imagine; two middle-aged kooks carving up the boardwalk, chatting and laughing about nothing at all. We'd land at Starbucks, lean the boards up against the window and waddle in. Pete gnawed a scone and steeped his tea bag, while I waited for a vanilla chai latte. Just in the nick of time, with one hand on the pole and the other hand gripping hot drinks, we'd roll down Main St onto the pier and gaze back at the sunrise, just peeping over the mountains. The ride back to Hamilton Avenue was invigorating as we picked-up the pace, with purpose, eventually spilling into the shop to start the workday. Those were good times... but now with MUCH better gear!
In the early days, we knew that we were skateboard business and we had to focus and get that right. Supply chain, webstores, marketing and customer service are hard enough, but we really needed to develop durable and reliable truck system that made our Hamboard skateboards ride the way we want them to ride. The trucks have been our main focus for years, and with our brand new HST 2.0 system, we've finally got that one nailed. But all along the journey, I really wanted to upgrade that bamboo stick into a real piece of performance sports equipment. Pete used to say that he never "designed" a Hamboard, he just built skateboards that he and his sons liked to ride. I was (and am) an engineering counterweight to that view... I absolutely design purpose-built sports gear with athletes top-of-mind in the context of a reliable supply chain, cost effective manufacturing, industrial design and material science. If I'm being totally honest, especially in those early days, I was far more interested in the sticks than the skateboards, but my first priority was to help Pete evolve his garage hobby into a viable skateboard business.
The stick development became my own garage hobby. Since I had experience in carbon fiber reinforced composites and I had been the head of product at a world-leading sports equipment company, I knew a few things about ice hockey sticks. I have played ice hockey my entire life (and still do), so I appreciated weight, balance and strength, but I also understood "whip", which allows the athlete to store potential energy by bending the shaft, and then facilitates a comfortable release of all that energy into the puck. The big difference between a hockey stick and a skate pole is "grip", necessary to propel the athlete forward. My good friend (and partner) Abraham Paskowitz calls it the "art of propulsion". Whenever I could steal some free time, I forgot about skateboards and tinkered with poles and tip prototypes in my workshop.