Smokin’ Snowboards enters the lonboard market with new Street Slayers Skateboards.
After several rough winters, many snow-focused brands are looking at ways to expand outside of the winter market in channels where they have brand permission. Burton is growing its apparel line, snowboard factories are producing kite boards, and many are pushing snowboard technology into the expanding longboard category.
With this in mind, as well as expanding the stoke to four seasons, Smokin’ Snowboards has launched a new longboard brand and line dubbed Street Slayers.
“We started looking at this because we wanted to have year-round business and thought our composite construction would be a great addition to the longboard market,” says Smokin’ Founder Jay Quintin. “We all longboard and have been following what’s going on in that market and felt like the timing was right for us to launch the brand. We’ve been doing R & D for the last year and now we’ve got them in six countries and across North America. We launched them at SIA and ISPO and already some of the bigger companies have hit us up to do OEM boards.”
We caught up with Smokin’ North American Sales and Marketing Manager Ryan “RV” Van Duyn at Smokin’s Tahoe factory to learn more.
Last year was rough for snowboarding – was the weather part of the reason for launching Street Slayers?
We had been talking about making skateboards for a while. Last year at our second annual "The Gathering" some of our shops and reps on the East Coast expressed interest as well. Factor in the dry snow year and it became clear that it was time to take the next step.
You call these “snowboard emulation devices” – how are you bringing snow tech to your boards?
Besides ordering Canadian hard rock maple, we literally sourced every other material we use for skateboard construction from within our own raw materials stash at our factory. It is totally overkill for skateboards, but we use the same premium materials like aspen wood cores, Tri-Axial fiberglass, UHMW tip and tail protectors, and Epoxy in our Street Slayers skateboards that we use in our Smokin' Snowboards. We incorporated some of the rocker profiles from our snowboard tech into our skateboard designs as well and the principals translate perfectly in multiple ways.
In your catalog, you have a whole page of proprietary techs and constructions. Boil down what all this means to riders and retailers in a couple sentences.
The tech icons are there to put a face to the technology we put into the boards--I suppose to quantify the amount of effort put into the design. Give the tech page a read before you shop the boards and they tell a pretty clear story of what you can expect from each of our products.
What makes these boards different than others currently on the market?
We don't have a pin tail and probably never will. Our perspective on skateboarding is fresh. When we decided to make the Street Slayers, we didn't look to the traditional skateboard companies for inspiration in our design. We didn't research what was trending in longboards. Instead we focused entirely on what we would want to ride and then designed it. After a year of R & D and making small changes we had a functioning line that has definitely turned some heads.
Super fun. I have been riding skateboards for more of my life than not and I have never enjoyed pushing and turning as much as I do now. I can honestly say each board has a unique ride and all are equally fun in their own respects.
What kind of boards are you including in the line?
We currently have a directional hybrid board (Sledgehammer), a couple of twin free ride boards (Blackwood and Blackwood Lite) , a kick-tailed cruiser/pusher (Coughin'), and a short and quick bullet with kicked nose and tail (B.F.F.).. By the time this gets printed we will have started cutting out the molds for a dual kicked, twin drop down, freeride deck and a few more dual kicked directional street shapes.
What are you personally skating?
I am torn between our two directional boards. The Sledgehammer turns like crazy and has a huge deck which is fun for pushing but the B.F.F. has been under my feet since the first one popped out of the mold. I am always impatiently waiting for the new shapes to be done so I can skate them however.
Who’s making your wheels and trucks?
We are super stoked to be using Bear Trucks and Hawgs Wheels currently. Their products, service, and shipping are amazing and they have been very supportive of our growth. With our sales and interest growing the way that it is, the next step for us considering our DIY spirit is to tackle creating a broader offering of our brands. We have already begun the initial wheel manufacturing research to create our own brand, Square Wheel Co. We have a few sizes and durometers in mind that will be perfect for our launch later this summer and as our tastes evolve our wheel offering will increase to match.
You guys rolled these out at SIA and it sounds like the response is strong. Who’s bringing them in this summer?
The response has been great so far, SIA and ISPO went bananas! I don't want to be too specific, but we have a great group of retailers in the States that have already received our first shipments and some pretty sizeable shipments headed overseas to our distribution partners.
You guys are also looking at an OEM model for other brands. Are you guys building boards for anyone else at this point?
There have been some inquires from a few major longboard brands about doing OEM composite boards. After the initial hiccups of starting production from scratch, we were able to refine our process and now we have the capabilities and the consistency dialed in to the point that we can take on other selectively chosen production projects. We are happy to announce that we have developed a couple "blanks" that use our construction and materials in proprietary shapes we can offer to our OEM partners. We made a small run of decks for AXS and Concrete Wave Magazine for their Longboarding For Peace cause.
What are your production goals and capabilities right now? Where would you like to see things in a couple years?
We are comfortably taking on the additional work load of skateboard design and production and have no limit to our goals. As the Street Slayers brand has grown it has done so independently from Smokin' Snowboards so it's potential is entirely up to the brands own performance. With our snowboard numbers growing consistently and the skateboard business already off to a strong start we have happily adapted by seeking to streamline our in house production we have also added additional production staff at the factory. Already the skateboard side of our business has created a whole new set of demands and responsibilities. Smokin’ Street Slayers has created a new kind of vision for us in the future. We have certainly begun to consider increasing our facilities to accommodate the additional growth in the coming years.
How does this help you diversify against the weather?
Smokin' as a brand is no longer restricted to the winter active sport market. Shops that invest in the brand can now generate income on Smokin' goods year round in multiple board sports markets. Fans of our snowboards that never longboarded are now riding the Street Slayers and getting stoked which has introduced new customers to the skate market. At our third annual "The Gathering" we had snowboarders that hadn't ridden a skateboard in a decade bombing hills and having the time of their lives.
What have been the biggest lessons of launching into this category?
Building Smokin' Snowboards as a brand over the last 19 years has taught us a lot about creating a brand. Those lessons unconsciously helped us create the Street Slayers brand way faster. The learning curve for Skateboard manufacturing was super quick since we have a "from scratch" experience making the snowboards and handle all our own troubleshooting. It has been fun kind of challenge to learn the process and refine the designs in skateboard manufacturing. The last year of R & D has resulted in our new boards going from concept to finished product in a very short timeframe.
We started out toying with the idea of making the Street Slayers as a personal challenge. To try and make something new and fun. As snowboarders and skateboarders it makes sense to want to be able to create both products. All we want to do is have fun and make products that other people have fun on, or because of. The ability to produce and create is at our finger tips here at our factory but the reason we want to is to be a part of what we love. Smokin' and our brands simply seek to be an addition not a subtraction to boardsports. Our intention is to give a fresh vision and innovation to snowboarding and skateboarding, get involved in events, support riders and inject some personality into the boardsports market.