When describing why beer or pizza tastes so good, a lot of people say it’s because of that certain place on a map where it’s made. The minerals in the water and the humidity in the air all add to the special flavor and unique characteristics. But, what about a place? Can a location also inspire people to do something different that just wouldn’t be born somewhere else? Well, we at Local Freshies® feel it’s true. On a side street in a non-descript building, a South Lake Tahoe company called Plus Skateboards is doing something you wouldn’t expect in a snowboard/ski destination… they’re making skateboards IN THE USA!
Two Minnesotans + a mountain town = passion
Sitting down with the owners of Plus Skateboards, Matt Cool & Adam Carlson, you can tell that this company isn’t just about making money but is for the love and culture of skateboarding. Originally from Minnesota, these two met in elementary school and moved out West to South Lake Tahoe, because like most of us that ended up in a ski-town, they first came for the snow. Even in Tahoe, their true passion of skateboarding has never waned. Frustrated with how the skateboard industry is going, they decided to take matters into their own hands and started a skate company of their own.
OK, I want to make skateboards, but how?
Like all great ideas, operations started small. It all began with them wanting to first understand the full design that goes into a deck. If you check out any skateboard website, most don’t really give you any information besides width and length. On the surface this sounds fine, but other dimensions such as concave and how much the nose/tail is bent can affect how the deck handles. Wanting to really understand the true geometry of a great skateboard, they both learned computer aided design (CAD) so that they could provide the EXACT dimensional designs to manufacture the best skateboard possible.
A Hobby becomes a Habit
Once they started designing their own decks they decided to take their company one step further and build their own skateboards… not a simple feat to say the least! Over the years, this evolved from learning basic wood-working, purchasing a 40 ton hydraulic press, building an ink screening operation and the list goes on. This evolutionary process happened across YEARS of time and this is what makes Plus Skateboards different than nearly any other brand out there. They HAND MAKE each skateboard in Lake Tahoe with as many materials as possible coming from the United States. Even their press was manufactured and assembled in Los Angeles. Talk about hands on!
Why is American Maple better?
It’s great to support American-made products, even just to reduce your carbon footprint but the materials Plus Skateboards use are far superior to imports. For example, American Sugar Maple, also known as “Hard Rock Maple”, is stronger than any other maple tree in the world. Why is it better? Well, when a sugar maple is grown in a colder climate, the trees have tighter growth rings leading to a stronger wood but still SUPER light in weight. Warm climates, such as China, also grow sugar maples but they will mature with large growth rings due to the weather, leading to a more brittle wood that breaks more easily. The verdict is clear – the best and strongest sugar maples in the world are grown in the Great Lakes region because of its cold climate. Talk about a Minnesota/Tahoe connection!
Besides making a deck with American-made products and designing the best board out there, Plus Skateboards is also about making skateboarding a place for everyone to be themselves. Many brands won’t sponsor skaters because they don’t fit their brand. That isn’t how these guys roll. As Matt said, “It’s all about self-expression. We want people to be themselves.” Jenkins and Tsikey love rails and stairs while Garren & Colton think outside the box on how they attack obstacles. The Plus team follows their mantra showing that exact type of ‘individuality’ thinking. Right now, you can only buy their gear online but they’re in the process of getting into a few small core skateshops across the US. Until then, if you want to encourage their positive message, support a company that LOVES the sport and most of all makes a GREAT product, check out the Plus Skateboards website.