IASC Update

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I haven’t been counting the steps since 1995 when several skateboard companies reached the decision to incorporate their own trade association and formally establish the International Association of Skateboard Companies. Those first steps featured meetings and gatherings where several voiced their opinions and sometimes their emotions, while seeking a clear-cut purpose for an organization whose mission statement would declare its purpose was to promote the sport and businesses of skateboarding.

IASC stepped into the future when its first board of directors meeting was held at Jim Gray’s Acme headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. That organizational meeting formally introduced the first IASC board-Jim Gray, Reggie Barnes, Chris Carter, Rick Howard, Chris Miller, Bob Denike, and Paul Schmitt-one of the board’s first steps was to select IASC’s executive director. As I recall, I wasn’t even asked to step out of the room, the selection process was simple and straightforward, and IASC was off and stepping.

IASC’s development has recently been undergoing a transformation. Meetings at each of the past two ASR Trade Expos have extended invitations to all major skateboard company representatives (IASC members and non-members) in order to examine the value of the ASR experience in today’s business environment. Inadvertently, these meetings have also prompted an assessment of IASC, its purpose, its leadership, and its direction in today’s skateboard marketplace.

In fact, a few skateboard company representatives (all IASC members) took the initiative to meet independently with ASR representatives in an effort to establish a more formal relationship between the two organizations. These discussions were an important step toward creating greater support for all IASC member companies-support that would be more in line with the recent announcements of VNU/ASR’s support for SIMA member companies.

IASC’s past successes, especially in the area of lobbying effectively for changes in skateboard liability laws and in providing guidelines for the development of well-designed public skateparks, have not been easily achieved. Nor have its successes been unanimously supported by its member companies or the rest of the skateboard “industry.” IASC’s efforts to unite behind common goals, to create “one voice” for the industry, have been an ongoing challenge. Nonetheless, IASC has succeeded in effectively changing the world of skateboarding, and its future contributions will be determined by those who actively participate in its programs, projects, and services, while reaping the benefits it can provide its member companies.

Thus, as of this past ASR Trade Expo (the last in Long Beach-haven’t we said that before?) IASC now steps in a new direction. In early January, on the brink of negotiating a new form of support from ASR, all discussions were put on hold until IASC member companies had the opportunity to meet at the “show” and decide what new steps to take. The decision was early and decisive. Originally scheduled as a midday event, the meeting was switched to an early 7:00 a.m. time slot to allow participants to concentrate on the meeting’s agenda.

Following a presentation scripted by Jeff Harbaugh (with the determined assistance of Paul Schmitt) and an informative talk by SIMA’s Executive Director Terry McCann, several decisions were reached. IASC needs to be overhauled in the same manner that its member companies have recreated themselves over the past six years. The skateboard marketplace is not what it was, the skateboard companies are not what they were, and IASC needs to reflect these changes.

It was agreed by those in the IASC Hospitality Suite meeting room (representing approximately twenty different brands/companies) to immediately elect a new board of directors. Twelve active member-company representatives were nominated, and it was agreed, with some discussion, the seven receiving the most votes would comprise the new IASC Board of Directors.

It was SIMA’s McCann who pointed out SIMA’s current reorganization began some eighteen months ago, and the structure for their reorganization was provided by the association’s bylaws. IASC’s first steps toward reorganization included a reference to its bylaws in order to determine who was eligible to vote for the new board of directors. This particular detail emerges from the membership criteria-only representatives from member companies can vote, thus, if a skateboard “company” is actually comprised of several different companies (brands) and has active memberships for all those companies, then each of those “companies” can vote.

Finally, from the twelve on the slate, the seven voted onto the board include Tod Swank, Steve Van Doren, Jeff Kendall, Don Brown, Rob Valerio, Per Welinder, and Bod Boyle. The new board met immediately for a few minutes, scheduled its first formal meeting for the following day, and now leads IASC into its immediate future-stepping eagerly forward. The next several weeks will include the development of specific goals and projects dedicated to overhauling IASC-dedicated, as in the past, to the sport and the businesses of skateboarding.