To those of you that don’t speak the skateboarding language, that basically means: they don’t wear out. They’re solid skateboarding wheels. Now, living in Los Angeles, I’m only a two-hour drive away from their headquarters in Santa Barbara. An even greater honor than having them as a sponsor was the recent opportunity to tour their manufacturing facility and offices.
The day started with the usual eggs and coffee. I went through the morning exercise regimen, had a hearty breakfast, and caught up on emails before packing the car for the day trip up the 101 to Santa Barbara, CA. The weather was beautiful, 70 and sunny; the type of Southern California day that people might imagine. The type that I always hope for. I filled up the road mug with piping hot black coffee and settled into the driver’s seat of the station wagon. I checked the traffic, set up the day’s podcast, and pulled out of the driveway. The element of excitement was definitely there, but the relaxing energy of the upcoming freeway drive was enough to mellow me out and feel calm about the day ahead.
Once out of the LA area and just past Oxnard, I found myself passing Ventura. That’s when the beauty of the drive really began to set in. People talk about the wonder of the California coast, and they’re correct in doing so. There’s the post card, and then there’s the real thing. I knew it would be pretty, but seeing it in person (up the coast from LA) for the first time really stoked me out. Further along, as I passed Dulah, Carpinteria, and then Summerland, the drive became more and more beautiful. On the 101-N, the winding Pacific coastline hugs your left side, and the layers of mountains tower over your right. As I came closer to Santa Barbara, the anticipation began to build, and I shortly found myself at the building. It’s not well-marked, so I looped around the back of the building. When I saw the manmade hubba (ledge down a set of stairs), I knew I’d reached SkateOne (the company that owns Bones Wheels).
I walked in and asked for Rob (who I had a meeting with). Minutes later, he greeted me and showed me around some of the administrative offices. Then, we proceeded downstairs to where the wheels are made.
The wheels get back “from the cleaners” and are prepped for printing. Most wheels have graphics that make the wheel look cool and can help in marketing them, especially if they have a pro skater’s name stamped on them. They do all the ink printing in house as well. A soft egg-shaped press dips onto the paint screen, where it picks up the graphic, color by color, and precisely places the paint on each wheel. The wheels sit out to dry and then are sent to packaging, where they are packaged in sets of four (of course) with a cardboard insert and moved along to shipping. SkateOne makes wheels, trucks, bearings, decks, and many other things, so the shipping warehouse is full of all of that product. They do all their own fulfillment and logistics in the warehouse, where trucks come to pick up the product and distribute it to skateshops and other distribution warehouses around the world. After studying supply chain management in college, this was even more interesting to me. After skateboarding my whole life, I was stoked to see all of it in person.
I let the guys get to the rest of their day at the office and headed to the skatepark. My friend, Steven from the neighborhood back in Highland Park, happened to be in Santa Barbara that day, helping his boss set up for a trade show there. An acquaintance, Robbie, who placed second in CST’s most recent contest at Transworld HQ, lives not too far from SB. I met up with both of them at the park to unwind over a session. The Santa Barbara Skatepark is SO rad. A park with solid transition, great flow, lots of technical trick options, and good vibes from all the locals, was about as picturesque as it gets. Right on the beach, where the shore meets the pier. The sun started to go down, and the sunset came from over the mountains to the west and through the many palm trees on the horizon. One of the most scenic sessions I’ve had in a while capped off an already great day. To make it even more interesting, I randomly came across Ryan at the park, a skater from Wilmington who now lives in SB. Such a random occurrence brought a feeling of serendipity that fit so well within that day.
Getting home felt nice. Like a long day at the office. Only way, way better.
Thanks Rob! Thanks Bones. Thank you, CA.
- 7Ply Epic