Over the past few months, the skateboard industry worldwide has been catapulted into confronting two major issues: the lowering of wholesale deck prices by Dwindle Distribution, and the issue of Chinese skateboard manufacturing.
Clearly what these two issues represent for the global skateboard industry is huge. Other brands are now being forced to compete with these lowered prices, and for most of them it’s impossible to compete without taking their own manufacturing overseas.
While some companies are addressing this changing environment in our industry by moving their deck manufacturing to China, others are resisting adamantly, taking great pride in maintaining their manufacturing of decks in the United States-the country where skateboarding originated and skateboards have traditionally been made.
One group of individuals who’ve been directly affected by the changes are the American skateboard manufacturers-some of them are long established, and some of them are new guys. All of them are a group of intelligent, talented, and passionate innovators without whom skateboarding as we know it today would not exist.
Indeed, manufacturing a skateboard deck is a labor-intensive process, and the reality of moving manufacturing to China is a bold one for many companies and individuals who’ve spent their lives developing the technology and innovation that makes the world of skateboarding go around in the way it does today. Clearly, the brash reality of business and capitalism alone can’t explain the logistics of why many companies feel compelled to move their manufacturing offshore.
The more we’ve learned about the issue here at SKATE Biz, the more we see both sides of the coin.
It’s interesting to see what a passionate group of American skateboard manufacturers-banded together for the first time in a unified cause-are doing. Together, they’re proactively forming the American Skateboard Manufacturers Association (ASBMA), which close to twenty manufacturers from all over the United States and Canada have joined in order to establish and enforce a code of ethics among skateboard brands. Motivated by the drive to maintain a full disclosure about where boards are manufactured, their primary goal is for all skateboard brands (and manufacturers) to properly label their boards with the point of origin, so that retailers and end consumers (skate-shop customers) will know where their boards are manufactured and make informed decisions about the boards they choose to buy.
In the meantime, shops and skaters may have to come up with a way to determine where a board unmarked with its point of origin was made, and moreover, skaters will have to decide whether or not they care about where their deck was manufactured.
Because at the end of the day, as long as the actual skateboarders are happy, that’s all that matters. -Saba Haider