The Round Table, Ep. 5: The state of board sponsors & pro skaters

The Round Table, Episode 5 | What’s the Current State of Board Sponsorship, Pro Skaters, and Entrepreneurs

After a brief hiatus, The Round Table series is back with episode five. The crew talks about the evolution of sponsorship and touches on the entrepreneurial spirit of pro riders.

It’s no secret: the definition of a professional skateboarder has changed. With that evolution is a shift between rider and brand sponsorships. Some riders have left brands to proactively start their own company, while others have just simply said “sayonara,” and split. The most recent and notable example was late last year when Eric Koston and Guy Mariano parted ways with long-time board sponsor Girl, simply saying “Thanks for the memories,” with no further details of where they’ll go next–if anywhere.

This exodus amongst pro riders has unveiled a change in what we used to consider a professional skateboarder. “It used to be that skaters weren’t legitimate if they didn’t have a board sponsor,” points out Jeff Kendall of NHS. “[Skaters leaving sponsors to start their own thing] will continue to happen, which may not be a bad thing. It builds a new freshness to the industry.” Per Welinder of Blitz agreed, “When Eric and Guy left Girl last year, it made a statement to the industry that it’s not a ‘big deal’ that they didn’t go to another board brand or even start their own.” It begs the question: are board brands losing their importance as a definitive category within the industry, or are we just seeing a shift in pro-model boards losing their luster?

Don Brown of Sole Tech applauded the model Paul Rodriguez took with Primitive as an entrepreneur, pointing out the direct-to-market strategy used to channel P. Rod’s personal reach for the greater benefit of the company might just be the future business model. “Andy Schrock is another good example,” says Brown. Schrock’s YouTube presence has helped pave the way for the success of his two companies, ReVive Skateboards and Force Wheels.

Check out the rest of this conversation in episode five of The Round Table.

Chime into the conversation below. The Round Table is an 11-part series focused on The State of Skate. Transworld SKATEboarding's Mike Fitzgerald moderated the conversation with Don Brown, Sr. VP of Marketing for Sole Technology, Jeff Kendall, Vice President of NHS, Inc., and Per Welinder, President and CEO of Blitz Distribution.

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