World Industries Rules

Steve Rocco has built an empire from recycled rubbish.

When Steve Rocco founded World Industries in 1988, he had no idea what he was doing. He also had no idea what he was doing meant. In the corporate-dominated environment of the late-80s skateboard marketplace, a seemingly insignificant start-up with an unfittingly bold name seemed destined for the dust bin. But World Industries’ incredibly industrious and unflinching leader, former pro freestyler Steve Rocco, charted a course that no company had ever tried. He offered something new, and he attracted a lot of attention.

Some would argue that World Industries attracted too much attention. The original name, SMA Rocco Division, was in part–like many of the company’s early board graphics–borrowed but not lent. Other boards, some of them under the Blind and 101 brand names, served as canvases for the most offensive and controversial graphics ever conceived; nudity, blatant satanism, and racist stereotypes were all depicted. While shops worldwide couldn’t keep the boards in stock–or just refused to stock them in the first place–World Industries and its sister brands were earning a reputation as troublemakers. They were stirring up the industry. They were challenging the status quo.

Steve Rocco challenged, adjusted, and has now become the status quo. World Industries is on top of the game, but if there’s anything consistent in skateboarding, it’s change. You can’t hope to stay on top without reinventing yourself every so often.

Steve Rocco is a master at creating new brands, frequently in conjunction with some of skateboarding’s most creative individuals, and the World Industries stable continues in that vein with its flagship brand, Blind, A-Team, All City, and the new Shaolin Wood Company. Rocco reinvents himself by creating new brands.

He continues to work with a creative and talented group of partners and employees to push the company further. It’s been said that when you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. But what about when you’re at the top? Where do you go from there?

World Industries has come a long way. The fact that you’re still here ten years later is one thing. But when you started the company did you imagine you’d be in your present position?

Steve Rocco:

We never thought we’d get past the first year–that was amazing. Even just getting into the early 90s.

In the late 80s the skateboard industry was dominated by the big five, and you were working with Vision at the time. What made you want to start your own company?

Rocco:

We just wanted to do stuff and have fun with it. It was never a goal to be number one, to be the biggest distributor–to be anything. We wanted to do graphics nobody else had done, ads nobody else would do–just things that you accumulate from years of being a pro skater. You always just walk around going, “Man, if I had a company, I would do that.” A lot of people always say that, but very few people actually follow through with it and actually do the stuff they said they would do if they had a chance.

Or sometimes they try, but they just don’t know how to get it done. That seems like the real trick.

Rodney Mullen:

Even the name itself, was sarcasm–World Industries sounded so big. It was a joke.

Rocco:

It was a total joke. We were so small. At the time, you gotta remember, we were about a million-dollar company and Vision was a 60-million-dollar company. At that time it was inconceivable that anything we did would amount to any significance at all. So we could just joke about everything. I don’t think there was much forethought to anything.

How very uncorporate. It’s interesting, though, because it seems the only constant in skateboarding is change–what’s in is out, what’s up is down.

Rocco:

Right.

What do you attribute your company’s long-lasting dominance in this fickle market to?

Rocco:

It comes down to one very simple thing–we do more smart things than dumb things. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Everybody who runs a company every day is faced with a lot of decisions. I hear the top managers in America only make the right decision 60 percent of the time. That’s like a grade D. We have an incredible group of people here. Everybody here, right down the list from Rodney Mullen, Frank Messman, Scott Drouillard, Vince Krause, J.T. John Thomas, Marc McKee–these guys are all geniuses. Everybody has an IQ of at least a 140. It’s just amazing when you work with a bunch of talented people like that, you don’t do too many stupid things.

As big as World Industries is, you still contract your board manufacturing through a separate woodshop. Some people in the industry say, “You need to have your own woodshop to really be a legitimate company.” Other people say, “We don’t need the headache.”

Rocco:

The funny thing is that the second and third biggest companies–Foundation and Birdhouse–don’t have their own woodshops. That theory is a little invalid.

It just backs up the idea that skateboarding is 90-percent marketing.

Rocco:

Well, as long as the woodshop does what you tell them to do, then you’re fine.

In the 80s you were pro for a while, then you evolved into the team manager at Vision. At what point did you decide you were going to break free and do something on your own?

Rocco:

I think pretty much when Brad Dorfman fired me from my job and kicked me off the team, and I was out in the streets. I figured that was a good chance to break free laughter.

Mullen:

After that it was crazy. I remember being on Powell; I would come out, and Steve was living on Natas’ Kaupas floor. He didn’t have money to eat. He would go into Vons and eat out of the bulk bin food section–he’d call it grazing for a meal. That was meal to meal.

At that time you invited friends and talented people with positions at other companies to come and join you?

Rocco:

It wasn’t so much that. That would almost imply it was planned, and it wasn’t. There was no premeditation to anything we did. Like I said, a lot of it just came to be. When I started with Jesse Martinez, he went and got Jeff Hartsel. Then Rodney came with Mike Vallely. At the time, these guys, I think more than anything, just wanted freedom. They wanted freedom to do whatever they wanted to do. Then Mark Gonzales came to me, then Natas, then Mike Ternasky, even Tod Swank. Tod was with us for quite a while, then Rodney kicked his ass out. But I’m stoked, Tod is doing really well. I’m totally proud of him. I knew he always had it, and I knew he would pull through eventually. He’s done an incredible job.

Mullen:

I remember when Mike Vallely and I made the decision to join World Industries. Steve was in another room, he came in, and we were just sitting there straight-faced. We told him it was going to happen, and he got more scared than anything.

Rocco:

Yeah, I was like, “Oh man, now we have responsibility.”

Mullen:

I remember the look on his face. I thought he would be overjoyed, jumping around, and it was almost like …

Rocco:

“Oh shit. Now we gotta go borrow more money.” That was the second year, 1989.

It seems like at the time all the big companies had fairly rigid systems, and you offered a sort of freedom to these guys, and that’s what attracted them.

Rocco:

Mike just wanted to put a damn elephant on his skateboard, and we let him do it. It was as simple as that. I said, “You want an elephant? We can do that.”

Was your philosophy at the time to pretty much let them do what they wanted to do?

Rocco:

Absolutely. Like you were saying earlier: What are you willing to do when you enter the skateboarding industry? What’s going to make you different? Well, at the time skaters were not allowed to have any input whatsoever, so the basis of our company was, “Let the skaters have input on what’s
going to be on their boards.” That was that.

That was the crack that broke everything open.

Scott Drouillard:

And you paid them, too.

Rocco:

Oh yeah, we doubled it. A lot of people don’t realize that, but we were the first company to pay two-dollars-a-board royalty.

Were you able to afford that because it was a small operation?

Rocco:

No. It was just because we were stupid. We didn’t know any better.

There are all kinds of theories about where you borrowed the money to start the company. One story goes that you basically put your life on the line for this company to succeed.

Drouillard:

At least his legs. Probably his fingers.

Rocco:

We borrowed money from someone who wouldn’t look upon it very kindly if we didn’t pay him back.

Short-term/high interest?

Rocco:

I borrowed 20,000 dollars, and I had to pay back 30,000 the first year.

That’s short-term/high interest.

Rocco:

Whatever kind of interest that is, it was paid in a paper bag–cash every month. Usually by Rodney.

Mullen:

He’d the loan guy come in the same day every month, and when we didn’t have it, Steve would take off and leave me. For the first couple of months I didn’t quite catch on.

Rocco:

The funny thing is, the guy that we’re talking about actually became a good friend, and now he’s a partner in our hat factory.

He’s gone legit?

Rocco:

Oh, he’s totally legit–now.

Yeah, thanks to you guys. Well, I think I would be your friend if you gave me 10,000-dollars interest in a year.

Rocco:

I think you have to charge a lot of interest just to make up for all the people who don’t pay you back. I mean, breakin’ legs is fun, but it doesn’t put money in the bank. At one point I had to borrow more money just to make the payments on the money I borrowed. I think I had to do that three times. My first business venture was to take a 6,000-dollar cash advance–that’s all the cash advance I had on my credit card. I bought all these skateboards, and Skip Engblom showed me where I could sell them all. So I was stoked, I had 6,000 dollars, and I turned it into 10,000 dollars almost instantly–within two weeks. I’d never seen that much money in my life, I grew up pretty poor.

So being the incredible, super-genius businessman that I was, I took my 10,000 dollars and spent it all on T-shirts. Because I figured, “Boy, we’ve gotta get some T-shirts to go with these boards.” I called up the people who bought the boards, and they go, “Oh no, we don’t want any T-shirts.” All of a sudden I was broke again. That’s why we never had distributors when we started. I was so pissed off that all these guys wanted boards, but when it came to T-shirts or stickers or whatever else I made, they just told me no. I pretty much told them all to drop dead, and that’s when we started our own distribution.

Which was a new idea at the time.

Rocco:

Oh, totally new.

You were really painting yourself into a corner back then.

Rocco:

That’s when I had to go out and borrow money. Rodney loaned me a hundred bucks, and it wasn’t enough.

Tell me about your association with Skip Engblom–at first I guess he gave you some advice.

Rocco:

Skip drove me right to the woodshop. He goes, “This is where you get boards.” He drove me to the screeners and said, “This is how you get them screened.” He drove me to the distributor and goes, “This is where you sell ’em.” That was it. It was a simple three-step plan to being in business. I was going, “God, this is pretty easy.”

So it seemed.

Rocco:

So it seemed at the time, until you start making incredibly dumb mistakes. The first boards we made almost all came back. Almost every one of them delaminated. Jesse Martinez was ready to kill me. That’s a pretty scary thing, too. I had a guy who, if I didn’t pay him back, would kill me. And I had a rider who would …

Would kill you if his boards delaminated.

Rocco:

Yeah, but he didn’t need a good reason.

When you hooked up with Skip Engblom, he gave you some advice, and you also borrowed the Santa Monica Airlines name at first, correct?

Rocco:

He told me I could use it.

So it was like a handshake deal, and you just made your boards under the SMA name?

Rocco:

Oh, totally.

But NHS was manufacturing SMA boards at the time.

Rocco:

I think Skip forgot to tell NHS owner Rich Novak he did that. Actually, I think at the time Skip didn’t even have the right to do that, since Novak held the license on the name.

So at first it was SMA, but you only used that for a short time, right?

Rocco:

No. It was Santa Monica Airlines Rocco Division. Then it was SMA World Industries. Then it was World Industries.

So the evolution of the name was the result of a conflict of interest?

Rocco:

Oh yeah, Novak was gonna shut our ass down. He had mercy on us.

One of your biggest legacies is your early ad campaign. Like you were saying, at first you just did whatever came to mind. Were all the ads those first couple of years that way, or did you eventually develop a strategy or a plan?

Rocco:

I think in our early ads we just wanted to say what needed to be said. It goes back to what you were saying, “What are you willing to do differently? What makes your company so different?” I just don’t think like Brad Dorfman or George Powell, so even if I tried I couldn’t do an ad like them. My ads–being that I wasn’t a businessman and I had no background in anything–were so completely different, they just came straight from my brain, right to the paper, and right into the magazine. That was it. Most people do ads when they want to try to sell a product. We did ads just to make statements, I think.

Public service announcements.

Rocco:

Exactly. Yeah, public service announcements–that’s all they were.

Eventually they started addressing not just topics or ideas, but other companies. There was the Dear George letter, and when Mike Vallely left the company there was an ad about him. Was that something that seemed to get a good response as far as sales went? Or was that just a reaction?

Rocco:

The George thing was a phenomenal sales success. I don’t think we ever sold boards faster than those three boards when they came out. But you gotta understand that everyone just sees the ad, but we never did anything unprovoked. George also did an ad that ran before where he made fun of small companies. We were the only small skater-owned company, and it was aimed so blatantly at us that I just got pissed.

I went into this business completely naive, “We could all be friends, it’s cool, no big thing.” But when George started doing stuff like that, I just went, “Okay, you want war? That’s fine. What do I have to lose? I’m already poor. I can’t get any poorer. You’ve got more to lose than me.”

On the surface it seems like some of your early ads were attack ads. Then recently there was the Woodstock ad that featured a likeness of you, and you went after Simon Woodstock and Rich Metiver for that. Again, on the surface it seems kind of hypocritical, like, “Wait, didn’t he do all that stuff to these other people?” But when someone does it to you, you go after them.

Rocco:

We never did anything making fun of Woodstock or Metiver in ads–we never did anything. I mean, the only thing we did to them was sue the shit out of them and take more money than they probably had. That was that. To me, there was no reason for them to do that. They did an ad, and it wasn’t even aimed at World. Simon goes, “Well, you used to do that kind of stuff.” But we had reason, we were provoked. I hate to come down on somebody like that and ruin their whole lives, but I’ve got a responsibility here not only to myself, but to the people who work here. We just couldn’t allow that to happen. Like I said, it goes down to making the right de
cisions. There’re all these decisions that you can make–either someone puts you forward, or someone puts you behind.

Frank Messman:

Well, there was also another difference between the Woodstock thing and the Powell thing. The Powell thing was all about trademarks and things like that. The Woodstock thing goes into personal injury. It was so bad that it didn’t even take Metiver 30 minutes to settle, because he knew that if it went to court he would just get ruined. It was at a whole different level. Hypocrisy or not, you almost can’t weigh the two out against each other. In a way it was even more grotesque because we had a responsibility to distribute Big Brother, where the Woodstock ad ran, throughout the world. That took it to another level.

A lot of your early boards were borrowed graphics from Disney or wherever. Did you have a concern at that time about using those images?

Rocco:

We didn’t have any concerns at all.

Messman:

He does now.

Rocco:

Yeah, we do now. We’ve been spanked hard on that kind of stuff. But at the time we did those things, we didn’t do them with the idea, “Oh, if we put this on our board, it will sell ten times better.” We just thought it would be fun. These were our favorite characters. Winnie the Pooh–he’s my favorite character. We loved that. Jeremy Klein wanted the little Nintendo cannon ball. And it just went from there.

Mullen:

It was also in rebellion to the skeletons and all the gnarly things going on at the time. It was just the utter contrast.

Rocco:

That’s totally true, Rodney brings up an incredibly good point. At the time we started our company, it was all skulls. George was all skulls, Zorlac, Pushead–the whole thing. I’m just not really into that, so we started doing stuff that was completely anti.

But obviously that was a legacy that continues today with this whole cartoon-graphic trend, which you’re continuing with your own trademarked characters.

Rocco:

Yeah, we have to do our own characters now. At the time we were doing it, we heard all these things like, “As long as you change it ten percent, everything is fine.” We found out otherwise from a federal judge who laughed at us. We said, “Oh, we changed it ten percent, your honor.” He was just like, “Bailiff, escort these guys to jail.”

Who was that suit with?

Rocco:

Disney.

Sounds pretty serious.

Drouillard:

Pretty serious and funny.

Rocco:

Well, here’s what makes it bad–that was the fourth time we’d done a Disney graphic. The first one I did had Winnie the Pooh, and we got a letter for that. I wrote them back going, “Sorry, we didn’t know any better.” Then we did a board with Dumbo on it, got a letter for that, and wrote back.

What year was this?

Rocco:

Eighty-nine. But then Plan B’s Mike Ternasky became involved, and he did the Jungle Book board, which is also Disney, and we got a letter for that. Finally, they came to me and said, “That’s it. We’re pissed.” So I wrote them a letter saying, “I promise I will never ever use any of the Disney characters again … blah, blah, blah.” I sent it off to them and forgot about it. When we got to court, it was like, “Hey, I’m sorry, man, we won’t do it anymore.” Then they pull out the letter–they had the actual letter that I wrote! I just wanted to jump out the window.

Messman:

Actually, the Disney attorneys were laughing at that one.

Rocco:

You know what’s funny? They had the same kind of laugh that I had when I saw the Simon Woodstock ad. You just go, “Man, that’s bad, but boy, we’re going to cash in on this one.”

The last lawsuit was over a Beauty And The Beast graphic?

Rocco:

No, the last one was Winnie the Pooh burning in hell on a snowboard.

Messman:

Actually the suit came from Disney Japan.

Rocco:

Our Japanese distributor put it on the back cover of one of the biggest magazines there. They wrote “Winnie The Pooh” on the board. We just used to call it “The Devil Bear” or something like that. I’m surprised they didn’t put “trademark” or whatever.

I heard once that there was also a snowboard with a Hells Angels graphic that was causing you some trouble? Is that true?

Drouillard:

No comment. Actually, we’re working through that right now. It was totally unintentional.

Rocco:

Actually, to tell you the truth, now that we’ve done a little research on it, it doesn’t look like the Hells Angels have any right to that. They copied it from a bomber from World War II, which is where we copied it.

Which is U.S. government property, and therefore public domain.

Messman:

Well, it’s a bomber plane that has the name on the side. It says “Hells Angels”–that was the name of the bomb squadron at the time. But Hells Angels has trademarked the name since then.

Drouillard:

I mean, the whole thing was so truly innocent. What value does that add when we have Devil Man, Flame Boy, and She Devil?

Rocco:

It’s verging on a frivolous lawsuit on their part.

Drouillard:

Yeah, we’ve even offered to donate to their charity or whatever.

Mullen:

The Hells Angels charity?

They do a teddy-bear drive every year.

Rocco:

What do they do? Put a bunch of teddy bears down on the road and drive over them? Oh, I’m sorry. The Hells Angels is a very fine and reputable organization, and I would love to come to some kind of amicable agreement with them.

Messman:

It’s pretty funny, though, going from dealing with Disney to Hells Angels. It’s on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Yeah, that’s quite a spectrum. In the 90s you did a lot more experiments with graphics other than just the rip-off ones. You pushed the boundaries with the Satan board, the porno board, you did the velvet board. Any concerns when you did those that it was going to cause any trouble? I mean, most of your graphics were sort of against the grain at the time, but was it your idea that the more shit you can stir, the more people will talk about you?

Rocco:

No, it wasn’t that at all. The Satan board was pretty much a reply to the skulls–all these companies had skulls, and they had sort of implied devil worship, but it was very subtle. They never actually came out and said what it was about. So we go, “You guys want devil worship, you want skulls, you want gnarly? We’re gonna make a board that’s so gnarly you won’t even know what to do with it.” That was pretty much it. That board had the Pope burning, babies decapitated …

Mullen:

The Randy Colvin girl, the naked lady, was a reaction to all these women that started showing up on the bottom of boards. It was an ante up.

Rocco:

We just took things to another level. They thought they were all gnarly because they showed some girl in a bikini bending over. We’re going, “If you want to see gnarly, that’s nothing.” The other reason we did it was just because we could. We were just pushing the boundaries of things that hadn’t been done before. And why not do it? Actually, I felt like we almost had an obligation to do it.

Drouillard:

All right, Larry Flynt.

Rocco:

No, seriously. I watched Nightline last night with Jeremy Irons. There’s a movie he just made called Lolita. You know, the Russian novelist Nabokov who wrote that story about this guy who becomes obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl. It’s basically about pedophilia, so they go about promoting this movie.

But the guy Irons’ character dies at the end, so you see it’s all bad. Anyway, they asked him, “Look, this is a huge controversy, would you do it again if you had to?” He goes, “I feel like it’s almost my obligation as an actor.” And it was almost like the guy’s obligation who wrote the book to do that. If you just bury your head in the sand every time someth
ing controversial comes up, no one’s ever going to talk about it, and the problem will even get bigger. I think there’s a lot worse problems in America than naked ladies. That wasn’t even bad. Want to hear about some bad boards? We did a board with a crack pipe on it. Did you know about that one?

No. Now, were all these pretty big runs of boards?

Rocco:

Oh yeah, these were thousands. We did a board that came with a cigarette and a match–that was a Cigarette Starter Kit for kids.

Drouillard:

Not politically correct in today’s environment.

Rocco:

It wasn’t politically correct back then, either, but we were just showing how stupid smoking is by putting Mr. Butts on a board.

Mullen:

And we had Mr. J.

Rocco:

Mr. J, that’s right! What were some of the other gnarly ones that we did? The space shuttle blowing up, and it just said, “Oops.” I think Natas did that in 1990.

Messman:

Touching on the heart of the American soul right there.

Rocco:

Then we did the board with the cigarettes, the beer, the Bible, and the TV–The Official Dope of America.

I thought I’d seen most of them, but apparently not.

Mullen:

Well, there was a lot going on.

Rocco:

I don’t think anyone will ever do some of the things that we did. No one will ever push it that far. We did a board with a lynch mob. It had the white guy, the Asian guy, and the Jewish guy–they’re all hanging. A better one than that was Jovontae Turner’s board. It had a black guy in a watermelon patch with a half-eaten watermelon, falling asleep and dreaming about fried chicken. And it came with wheels called Pickaninnies. A pickaninny is a Southern derogatory term for a small black child. Rodney knows.

I guess the only consolation is that your African-American team riders actually put their names on the boards. It’s like, “If it’s cool with them … “

Rocco:

No, they were down for it. They liked it, seriously.

It sounds like when the company first started you were just going off the top of your head–everything was fun and games. At what point do you think it became serious?

When it got so big and it got to the point where there was so much you had to do inside the company to just get boards made, schedule production, write checks, do bookkeeping. It was just overwhelming for me. I couldn’t do it anymore.

So you started bringing in people who were organized and knew all this stuff.

Rocco:

The reason we’re doing so well, and we definitely had a good start, but the second wind of this company has been brought on by the team here. I mentioned all the guys before: Frank Messman, Scott Drouillard, Vince Krause, and Rodney Mullen was here from the start, obviously, but even he’s kicked in to another level with production.

Messman:

Rodney used to be the accountant.

Rocco:

Oh, we all took our turns being the accountant. Rodney and I have no accounting background at all, and we tried to do accounting. It was hysterical. It was so bad. We would be reversing journal entries to try to cover our mistakes.

Mullen:

We had official slush funds all over the place. Whenever something couldn’t rectify, we’d just go into it.

Rocco:

Yeah, we actually put “Slush Fund” on there, and stuff like that. Then we got audited by the IRS, and they didn’t think it was funny. We were just joking.

You put “Slush Fund” on your books?

Rocco:

Oh absolutely.

Mullen:

It was terrible.

Drouillard:

Real accountants put things like “Other Current Assets,” and just stick everything in there until they figure it out.

This isn’t the sort of evolution you would expect of the dominant company.

Rocco:

Well, basically it’s all brought around by irreverence, I think. There are all these sacred values and things that people impose upon you from birth. Our society tells us these things are not to be messed with: religion, the IRS, U.S.A., and don’t mess with skull graphics–they’re what sells, so that’s what you’ve got to do. We didn’t have that much respect for any of that stuff. Basically we didn’t have much respect for people telling us, “You can’t do this.”

It seems like at first when you were building the company, you were bringing in all the creative people like Natas, Mark Gonzales, and Rodney. Most of them have come and gone. It’s almost like you guys sort of had this amazing creative hive going, and then they went off and did whatever. Then you sort of supplanted them with more specialized, organized people who have been able to hold it together and continue it.

Rocco:

Well, their roles in the company were never like that anyway. You can’t compare them to the people we have here now. It’s just completely different. Mark’s role in the company was huge in one aspect and irrelevant in another. As for day-to-day operations, Mark had no part in the success of Blind. But just being Mark Gonzales himself, he had everything to do with the success of Blind.

His marketability.

Rocco:

Well, his marketability, his ideas, attracting riders, and being an incredible skater all had a lot to do with the company being a success. But there’s also behind the scenes, just like right now there’s behind the scenes. People think, “Oh my god, World Industries is an incredible success–Rocco’s a fuckin’ genius.” But I have a team behind me that is just unparalleled. Just like Mark had me behind him. It’s as simple as that.

At what point did you decide that it wasn’t enough to be a manufacturer, that you had to be a publisher as well?

Rocco:

Oh that was an easy one. There was a two-page ad we were going to run in TransWorld. On the left-hand page was a bunch of sequences of Gabriel Rodriguez trying to do a pretty hard trick, and he just kept eating shit every time he tried it. The next page was a picture of him curled up next to a toilet with a gun to his head. They TransWorld called up and go, “We can’t run that.” And I go, “Why?” They go, “Because Larry had a friend who killed himself in high school.” I’m just going, “And? Do you have any good reasons why you can’t run it, or is that the only one?” They go, “No, that’s the one.” I go, “Do me a favor. Send me a list of all the bad things that happened to Larry so I can know not to do those ads.”

I got so mad over that I started a magazine. I started a hat factory because the guy told me he couldn’t ship me hats in eight weeks. I bet the guy on the phone, I go, “Look, I’ll bet you I can start a factory and make hats before your hats even get here.”

Messman:

We still make hats today.

I think the ad was rejected because suicide and handguns don’t have a lot to do with skateboarding. Do you think you’re a spiteful person, and do you attribute your success to that?

Rocco:

Yeah, I guess I am. I don’t know if it’s spite. I just have a hard time letting other people’s misfortunes or life circumstances dictate how I do things. It’s just beyond me. Why aren’t they dictated by all the bad things that happened to me? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a one-way street. The people in power control everything else.

It’s always been that way, and it always ends up that way–regardless of the intention. Which is interesting because when you started World Industries, you became the prototypical skater-owned company, and many have followed since. But in the last few years I began hearing team riders say, “This is too corporate,” and they’re riding for companies that are of this generation of former pros who have stepped up.

Rocco:

Well, that’s because they’re coming from an era when companies like us and Foundation were just so completely carefree that a business couldn’t function