Powell Wood

By: | Monday, July 25, 2005 //

Grab your extra pair of socks and your brown bag lunch, it is time to board the Skateboarder short bus for a field trip.

We all know that field trips are always better than sitting behind the same old desk but four years of touring the same old apple juice factory can get kind of lame. That is why this Skateboarder field trip is taking you behind the ultra-secret doors of SkateOne Distribution. No Golden Ticket needed here. Everyone is invited to see these skateboard scientists from Santa Barbara hard at work making wood and urethane turn into instruments of imagination, skill, and most of all – fun.

Our tour starts with the helm of the operation. This upstairs office space is where the accountants, sales people, and the team/marketing gurus take care of business.


Lisa Streett, Juli Powel, Lisa Stankowicz, Michael Furukawa

Now that you have seen the faces of the people who you send your sponsor me tapes to, or the person who sells decks to the shop you work at, let’s get to the heart of the operation – the woodshop.

Hard Rock maple from the US is stored at specific temperature and humidity so it does not warp or crack before production. Each sheet is inspected before going to the next step. All sheets with knots in them are discarded and the quality sheets are put into batches.

A top-secret glue formula is applied to hold the seven layers together. The sheets are pressed together and sent to the molds where the decks take on concaves and kick.

The next step is to cut the wood into the desired shape.

The edges are then rounded and smoothed out.

The decks are later screened with the graphics we thrive for to keep our imaginations going.

You may have noticed in the previous pics that all the machinery has vacuums hoses on them. This keeps the sawdust to a minimum and ensures a quality-manufacturing environment. The sawdust and wood scrap is sent to large bins outside where it is later reused as fuel for other industries.

The finely tuned production methods are not the end. Random tests of decks within a batch are conducted with the guillotine to see where boards break and how much impact they can handle. This research is also done to the competitor’s boards to stay in tuned with what the rest of the market is putting out.

Board Breaker


Skateboarding is a sport of progression. We see this everyday in the magazines we read and the DVD’s we play. Do you think that Mike Smith ever imagined that future skaters would be doing his namesake grind down twenty stair handrails?


This unfettered dissatisfaction is why skateboarding is at the point it’s at today, and SkateOne distribution is a case in point to the manufacturing and technology aspect of this. Skateboarding wouldn’t be where it is at today if George Powell didn’t take his engineering degree from Stanford and ask himself if he could make better skateboards and wheels. He knew that the Bones Brigade would take his products beyond their limits and it was his job to stay a step ahead.


Skate One Corp is a big dysfunctional/functional family of friends and co-workers. A relaxed atmosphere with open offices and constant chatter. Manufacturing takes up the bulk of the facility and it is a quick walk to the upstairs offices.

Q and A with Michael Furukawa – Promotions

Q: What does the staff do in their spare time?

A: Leisure time includes skateboarding, ping-pong, basketball, surfing, biking, swimming, hiking, walking…

Q: How much product created in a day?
A: More than a single person can carry.

Q: How many orders sent out in a day?
A: More than 1

Q: How much money is spent everyday?
A: Including the lunch wagon, employees
buying lunch and gasoline, $1000′s

Q: What is the size of your operation?
A: Bigger than a wrestling ring

Q: How many people work at Skate One?
A: Everyone when the boss is looking.

Q: How many departments are there?
A: 10-15 depending on who you ask

Q: How long has SkateOne been in business?
A: 29 years this year.

Q: One major obstacle you typically encounter?
A: Bad weather.

Q: What percentage of stuff is given away?
A: Less than we make.

Q: What makes your product unique?
A: Highest quality, guaranteed.

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