Close to twenty skateboard manufacturers from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are joining efforts for the first time in skateboarding’s history in establishing the American Skateboard Manufacturers Association (ASBMA).

The group strives to establish and enforce a code of ethics among the brands in skateboarding-their primary focus is for all skateboard companies (and manufacturers) to label their boards with the point of origin in order to inform the buyers and customers where the boards are manufactured and allow for retailers and end consumers (the customers at skate shops) to make informed decisions about what they’re buying.

Gray presented the organization’s mission statement as ultimately being a unified front “against deceptive, mislabeled, or unmarked skate products.”There is an existing law under the United States Federal Trade Commission requiring that all imported goods be labeled with their country of origin. Due to a growing awareness of the issues surrounding domestic versus offshore manufacturing rising, retailers are slowly starting to see the first of labeled boards arrive in their shops.

On December 9, 2003, an informal ASBMA meeting was held in Costa, Mesa, California at the offices of Jim Gray and ABC Board Supply. At the meeting, Gray introduced ASBMA as a new committee made up entirely of North American board manufacturers-but with the intention of adding additional manufacturers of items such as wheels and trucks. The list of board manufacturers involved so far includes close to twenty American board manufacturers as well as Max Dufour, who owns Woodchuk Laminates in Montreal, Canada; and Dolph Raasch, who runs Cinco Maderas in Tijuana, Mexico.

Of all the manufacturers present, George Powell of Skate One has been manufacturing boards in China for some time now, and Paul Schmitt, through his PS Stix factory will begin manufacturing at a newly constructed Chinese facility in the New Year. However, Schmitt and Powell are both in agreement on the need to label boards with their country of origin. Both Schmitt and Powell have already begun the process of labeling their product.

Schmitt expressed his view that although he has opened a manufacturing facility in China, he continues to believe that American-designed and produced skateboards are of superior quality and ultimately better for the progression of skateboarding. He expressed that if offshore manufacturing continues: “Without American designed products there will be no progression. Skateboarding is about excitement. If we turn into a product category, there won’t be any margin to support things that create excitement such as tours, videos, and contests.”

“We’re here to level the playing field. It’s been made unfair to us,” said Gray. “There are lots of fence-sitters (marketing brands) waiting to see how this plays out. Most of us are here because of our passion.”

“Skateboarders are 100-times more passionate than snowboarders or surfers,” added Gray. “Much more passionate means we have a much better chance of surviving. We need to work to promote our passion.”

An opinion expressed by several of those present at the meeting was that some American brands are “shuffling” Chinese boards in with U.S. ones. Another opinion presented is that if manufacturing moves to China, it potentially poses a greater challenge for smaller companies.

“There are Chinese manufacturers contacting shops directly, offering blanks for ten bucks,” said Brent Callahan of System Skateboard Manufacturing.

“We’ve all admitted that George (Powell) and Paul (Schmitt) are smart for being on both sides of the market, but the reason the other people are going is greed,” said Gray. “We want all skate products to be labeled with country of origin.”

“As long as it’s labeled, I don’t care,” added S.O.P. Distribution’s John Falahee.

Check out asbma.com and asbma.org.

Sidebar:

Here are some of the individuals and companies involved in the beginning stages of foorming the ASBMA. (Source: Jim Gray, ABC Board Supply)

o Brad Dorfman-Select Distribution

o Brent Callahan-Systems Skateboard Distribution

o Bud Smith-Jessup Griptape

o Charlie Watson-Watson Laminates

o Chris Atchison-South Central Skateboard Manufacturing

o Dolph Raasch-Master Core, Cinco Maderas

o Gayle Magnuson-Kolorz Screenprinting

o George Powell-Skate One

o Grant Burns-BBS Manufacturing

o Greg Chapman-Chapman Manufacturing

o Henry Clemes-Systems Skateboard Distribution

o Jeff Madrid-California Skate Factory

o Jerry Madrid-Madrid Pro Designs

o Jim Gray-ABC Board Supply

o John Falahee-SOP

o Karl Spaeth-Geometric

o Kelly Bellmahr-Screaming Squeequees

o Marc Pelland-Woodchuck Laminates

o Mark Schmid/Syndrome Distribution-Pro Skate Laminants

o Max Dufour-Woodchuk Laminates

o Milton-Sierra Nevada Skateboards

o Paige Hearn-Skateboard Plus

o Paul Schmitt-P.S. Stix

o Phil Prime-Prime

o Reggie Church-California Skate Factory

o Rene Morales-Sacrifice Skateboards

o Rob Dykema-Dykema Manufacturing

o Tim Birt-Five Points Skates