* This story ran in the May issue of Transworld Business. The headline has been changed for clarity. Baker skateboards remains at Blitz distribution, and Deathwish skateboards and Brigada eyewear are distributed through Baker Boys Distribution. Deathwish's Jim Greco and Erik Ellington co-own Baker Boys Distribution with Baker's Andrew Reynolds. We apologize for any confusion.—Ed.
Their crew has had a few different names throughout the years—Warner Mob, Piss Drunx—but the Baker Boys, as they may be known now, are expanding.
Come May, products will be available from Deathwish Skateboards—a board brand distributed through Baker Boys Distribution, which is owned by Andrew Reynolds, Erik Ellington, and Jim Greco. Reynolds, who currently remains on Baker, explains that the catalyst for the new brand came from its flagship pros Greco and Ellington, but everyone involved quickly became excited about the idea. "[Teamrider] Lizard went out and got a Deathwish tattoo, first thing," says Reynolds.
Rumors of the new brand had been circulating for months, and the June issue of Transworld SKATEboarding showed the world the first Deathwish ad, which was little more than a logo. Another tease. News travels fast, and the Internet has only made it travel faster. "Hype," as a concept, can be a useful tool when you've got a hot brand that everyone wants to know about. On the other hand, leaking the news could make your eventual announcement an anticlimactic dud. Fortunately, Deathwish has had skaters salivating for months.
Ellington explains the catalyst for creating a new brand and distribution was the growth Baker had been experiencing. "With Baker getting to be such a big team, it was the next step for us to start another company." Baker Boys will distribute Deathwish and also Brigada, their eyewear company that has experienced its own growth spurt recently. "We've just started shipping and we've sold most of our stuff, placed a reorder, and are in the process of planning a couple of Brigada tours," he says. They also recently enlisted Paul Rodriguez onto the Brigada team, as well.
While Blitz Distribution will continue to distribute Baker products, Deathwish will be offered exclusively through Baker Boys. Blitz President Per Welinder explains: "Blitz has the worldwide rights to the Baker brand through a long-term licensing deal. Blitz co-founded Baker in 1999, but is no longer an equity owner of the brand. Andrew is an amazing skater and person and Baker is a very cool brand, and I believe Blitz's relationship with Baker will continue for a very long time in one form or another."
Welinder goes on to explain that, because of the relationship established by Reynolds' tenure at Blitz and Baker's successful track record, Blitz would be open to becoming a distribution channel for Deathwish."Blitz offers a plug-in-and-play distribution solution for a skate brand like theirs, and the doors at Blitz are always open for those guys—now or in the future."
We've seen this kind of thing before. In 1996, Jamie Thomas launched Zero through Tum Yeto Distribution. It began as an apparel brand, but even when they started doing boards, Thomas remained on the Toy Machine roster. But eventually Zero took off, and we all know where the story goes from there. Whether Deathwish will follow suit remains to be seen, but Ellington seems open to more expansion in the future. "If we can handle it, I can't imagine why we wouldn't," he says.