Boris Antoniuk Of California Distribuidora

How have sales grown in the last few years?
When I started, the market didn’t exist yet. It started to grow as the years passed by, and it’s getting better and better following a market revolution with simultaneous growth in sales to men and the general public.

What are the most common problems facing distributors in Brazil?
For me, as an importer, the bigger problem is the taxes, which are very high. The fluctuating dollar value, which is now very high, is a problem as more people try to buy directly from the U.S.

What are the products that sell the most?
Aside from the price difficulties, shoes do because the products of Sole Technology are of very high quality and are made for the sport.

How many pairs of shoes are sold?
Fifteen-thousand pairs a year. This number used to be higher, and it dropped with the high price of the dollar. But we have an agreement with the company so that this number can double for next year.

What type of competition do you face in Brazil?
Our preoccupation is never competition, because our products are of different quality and style, we just worry about attending to our clients well.

What criteria do you use in deciding what brands to carry?
Market demand and product quality¿that is, a product made for skaters.

What do you think about the Brazilian skate shops that buy direct from U.S. distributors?
That’s a serious problem that has been happening the last few years. It isn’t only my brands, but others too. It circumvents the market, and they are naturally hurting themselves.

What do you think about bootlegging products?
Bootlegging is one of the most serious problems in Brazil, not only with shoes, but falsified clothes and caps are also of low quality, and that messes up the market. Not only I, but Bob Burnquist is always trying to alert people that when they buy a falsified product, they are hurting the skate market.

How is California Distribuidora seen by Sole Technology?
Like a company that not only defends its interest against bootlegging, it also supports athletes, promotes skateboarding, and isn’t only focused on the present market, but is working for the future.

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Sergio Bellinetti Of Crail Trucks

When and why did you start Crail?
I started Crail in 1989 after leaving another truck company I had since 1986. My involvement with truck production began because I believed it was necessary to use quality materials at a time when it was really hard to get anything.

What is your sales volume?
We make trucks for four domestic brands besides Crail. Crail represents 75 percent of production, and the other four divide the remaining 25 percent. In 1999 we made a total of 130,000 trucks, and in 2000 we produced 112,000 by August.

What are the difficulties of exporting?
The difficulties are the same as when you start a new business¿finding trustworthy partners who believe in you. Our trucks meet all the technological standards to compete worldwide with any brand. The problem is that buyers in the world skate market are attracted by marketing to the American brands, and they don’t consider our product. People like to buy images.

What countries do you currently export to?
We sell to the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, England, Czech Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Spain, and to whomever wants us.

What are the principal internal problems?
Here, just like anywhere else, there are various types of business problems: unfair competition, bootlegging, unstable economy, opportunists, social discrimination against skaters, and many more. Company owners have to deal with all these adversities. They take your focus off important projects, and things take longer to happen.

What do you think about bootlegging?
Why do you think Brazil has so many good athletes?
I think this is a talent that comes with each person, though the Brazilians have a thing with sports in a general way, so they learn really easily. In the case of skateboarding, the Brazilian industry had a very important part in the creation of good athletes, certainly; if there wasn’t a local market developed by skaters of my generation, some of the great skaters now would be doing other activities. Ten years ago, Brazil was Utopia for most people. Now, a sixteen-year-old boy with a sponsor gets more money than a banker.

What are your objectives for the future?
Expand the brand in the international scene, identify other brands that want to form mutual partnerships, and build a skatepark in São Paulo with a big snake run so I can have fun, too.

What influence does the country’s economy have on your business?
There is an exchange difference that favors us a lot for exporting, and disfavors us in importing. That is a complex problem because we work in both importing and exporting. We import bushings and nuts for our trucks, and we have problems when prices for those go up. Another important factor is that to get credit lines from the government to invest in technology or machinery, the process goes very slow. So we have to use our own capital to buy all these things.

Crail Ind. & Com Ltd.
Rua Fernando Lafemina, 30
São Paulo-SP, Brazil
Phone/FAX: 11-217-2673 or 11-294-7913

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Marcos “Maguila” Imaguile Of Maha Skateboard Co.

When did Maha start?
Maha started in 1977, so the brand has been on the Brazilian skate market for about 23 years.

How was the brand created and why?
Skateboard products didn’t exist then, so we started making boards. We started with hardgoods, and in 1993 we began producing softgoods. We opened our first store when the skatewear fever started in the 90s.

What difficulties do you face in the Brazilian market?
Raw materials are very hard to get. Technology isn’t at the level of the U.S., but we’ve really progressed with clothing.

Have you ever had any of your products or brands bootlegged?
Yes, we’ve already had many problems since we’re a well-known brand. And in Brazil there are many sub-brands and many people who just don’t care, so they work with the bootleg brands.

What age groups do you cater to?
Our customers traditionally range from ten to 24 years, but now six- and seven-year-olds are getting into it. Basically 80 percent of our customers are male. At twenty percent, females are our fastest-growing customer group this year.

Have you had any problems because of the currency exchange rate?
The current exchange rate between the Brazilian real and the U.S. dollar is a very serious matter. It makes quality raw materials too expensive. So brands that sell low-quality products have an advantage, while the ones that work with good-quality products, almost always imported, suffer the consequences.

How are Brazilian skateboard products influenced by the U.S.?
The U.S. is where the skateboard was born. From the U.S. come the ideas that influence not only Brazilians, but the whole world. But Brazil has its own identity, and our skatewear is already different from American skatewear because the people here are also influenced by the country’s condition, climate, fashions, and many other things.

Do you have any type of interest in exporting your products?
For now the brand is a Brazilian industry, and we don’t have any intentions to export it. Our goal is Latin America and the countries of the Mercosul Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay.

How many stores do you have?
We have ten stores spread out throughout the south of Brazil, for now.

Why there are so many talented skaters in Brazil?
There are many factors. Skaters here have to be good¿they have to give all they can because the equipment’s not as good as in America. Also, the infrastructure is not as good, so if they manage to get good, it’s because they really want to succeed. They train, they go to events, and they get sponsored. And in Brazil there are many competitions¿so nonprofessional skaters who can do well in those can go to foreign countries with sponsors to demonstrate what they learned in Brazil.

Why has skateboarding grown so much in Brazil?
Because some brands in Brazil did a very good job of building a contest circuit. Contests with good obstacles, well-designed skateparks, and public skateboarding events have generated athletes like Rodil de Araujo, Carlos de Andrade, Rodrigo Teixeira¿they’re always present at competitions. Daniel Vieira is the current Brazilian champion, and southern Brazil has generated most of the athletes now known worldwide.

Skateboarding is a very solid sport in Brazil, but it needs a little more support from brands that are using it to compare themselves to U.S. brands. If we can do that, more of our athletes will reach the same levels as American athletes.

Is the product-bootlegging situation in Brazil getting better?
I think we still lack some distinction between brands. Companies need to invest more in their brand names so that the public recognizes them and can be sure they’re not buying inferior bootleg product. It’s sad to see brands copying and bootlegging other brands. They show that they don’t have any creativity or identity.

What is the basic philosophy at Maha?
We always try to make original products, we try to help our athletes, organize amateur contests, and we partner with the skateboard magazines to promote skateboarding.

What do you think about the future of skating in Brazil?
Skateboarding is heading toward a great evolution, and we’re very optimistic about its promising future.

Maha Skateboards
Rua José de Alencar, 60¿Cristo Rei
80.050-240¿Curitiba¿PR, Brazil
Phone: 41-362-0015
E-mail: maha@maha.com.br

Click here to see “Brazil’s New Way,” a story on the Brazilian skate market.

P>Why there are so many talented skaters in Brazil?
There are many factors. Skaters here have to be good¿they have to give all they can because the equipment’s not as good as in America. Also, the infrastructure is not as good, so if they manage to get good, it’s because they really want to succeed. They train, they go to events, and they get sponsored. And in Brazil there are many competitions¿so nonprofessional skaters who can do well in those can go to foreign countries with sponsors to demonstrate what they learned in Brazil.

Why has skateboarding grown so much in Brazil?
Because some brands in Brazil did a very good job of building a contest circuit. Contests with good obstacles, well-designed skateparks, and public skateboarding events have generated athletes like Rodil de Araujo, Carlos de Andrade, Rodrigo Teixeira¿they’re always present at competitions. Daniel Vieira is the current Brazilian champion, and southern Brazil has generated most of the athletes now known worldwide.

Skateboarding is a very solid sport in Brazil, but it needs a little more support from brands that are using it to compare themselves to U.S. brands. If we can do that, more of our athletes will reach the same levels as American athletes.

Is the product-bootlegging situation in Brazil getting better?
I think we still lack some distinction between brands. Companies need to invest more in their brand names so that the public recognizes them and can be sure they’re not buying inferior bootleg product. It’s sad to see brands copying and bootlegging other brands. They show that they don’t have any creativity or identity.

What is the basic philosophy at Maha?
We always try to make original products, we try to help our athletes, organize amateur contests, and we partner with the skateboard magazines to promote skateboarding.

What do you think about the future of skating in Brazil?
Skateboarding is heading toward a great evolution, and we’re very optimistic about its promising future.

Maha Skateboards
Rua José de Alencar, 60¿Cristo Rei
80.050-240¿Curitiba¿PR, Brazil
Phone: 41-362-0015
E-mail: maha@maha.com.br

Click here to see “Brazil’s New Way,” a story on the Brazilian skate market.