Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John the Rippa

Matt McKeen - Heelwhip Boardslide 

Inspired by my cat (Little John) who we believe to be a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, here's a new ad for shred's sake.  Big thanks to Rudy Garcia for taking this photo & bringing me to this spot.  Always wanted to hit this rail.  Check out his other flicks on instagram @rudygarciaphotography !!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Matt Thom Interview! By Travis House

We all heard of this man, one of the geniuses behind the good ol rider owned company TSI but not much to know about him other then his radd nickname Thomcat. Travis Recently moved over to work beside him for TSI, we were shooting the shit and travis told me how much crazy stuff he see's and heres from thomcat. I couldnt just keep it for myself so i had to ask travis to get a interview for us and kill er. So here it is! The thomcat interview with geust interviewer Travis House.

Matt Thom aka Thom Cat is one of the most youthful almost-50-year-olds that has ever existed. His energy mixed with his passion to create make up for one colorful character to be around. When I ride with him it’s not uncommon to hear him bellow “Yesssssss” across the skate park because he landed something new, or hard for him. He gets what it means to love to ride and progress and the man is now a Grandfather. When we come across a problem in the shop as I’m talking about the issue he has already thought up something he can make to solve the problem, it’s unreal. Thom Cat truly is one of scooter riding’s key figures and this is his story. 

So I know you got started in extreme sports early on, you skated right? When was that?

   When the big skateboarding boom in the 70’s… 1976 I was 12 years old and I just got back to school in September and every kid had a skateboard, those banana boards… all plastic banana boards like GT’s, Continental’s… Things like that. A friend of mine had a Skateboarder Magazine on the bus and I never seen anything like that before. I looked though the magazine and saw Bonsai’s and G&S Fiber Flex… Some of the early boards in the middle of the development that industry. I saw things like Bennett and Tracker Trucks… Gull wings, you know. I subscribed to Skateboarder Magazine right away…me and my brother would get that Skateboarder Magazine and my brother was a better skater than I was…

You were the underdog?

   Yeah I mean he was older than I was and he also had more balls. We built a quarterpipe in the front yard and that’s all we did I mean, I went to school and than I skated. I’d skate to school sometimes… We lived on a mountain and I would sit down on my board and pretty much Luge down the hill, 40mph using my army boots to slow me down.

   Skateboarder magazine, it was all about Dogtown and the development of the skateboard and everything back then because it wasn’t all wooden skateboards… It was fiberglass, it was aluminum, it was plastic, it was wood… It was all those elements and nobody really knew what the skateboard was going to turn into… And it all turned into plywood pretty much (laughing) you know as a standard. Which is basically what I’m trying to do with scooters, I’m trying to come up with the standard that everything is based off of. No gimmicks or any kind of “special features” other than what the standard is set to be, like the early skateboards trying to guess what it’s going to be.

And now you ride a scooter/what do you get from riding?

    In the beginning what I got from it was fear, straight fear (laughing) I got a scooter and the first thing I did was fall down… I went over a hip and I fell down, broke my thumb, injured my knee and the next day we were at CooterCon 7 limping around, I couldn’t even walk… I mean after a while I started to develop more confidence and KC would make me ride every day and I developed a rider mentality that I think is necessary to run a scooter company. We would go to different parks all the time, every day we would ride something. In the winter we would snow scooter, we would always ride. Now I’m getting older and it’s not as easy to do…

But you’re still progressing! You’re still learning shit!

    I can still do it but riding 3 different parks in a day… I don’t know. One day me and KC ended up in Tualatin skatepark, it’s like a baby park. I had the time of my life there though. Some kid comes up to me and asks me if he could ride my scoter and I say “sure can I ride your skateboard?” and I got on his skateboard and I realized right then and there that it was just awful. It felt terrible to me, I mean after all these years I’ve worshiped skateboarding… it wasn’t what it was suppose to be… I mean it’s not like flowing the parks on a scooter. It really isn’t. You can flow the parks way faster from bowl to bowl, you’re flying… I don’t know, I get high on it, I really do. (laughter) Some days are better than others, someday I’m not feeling it and I have no balls…

And some days you do the back D!

   (laugher) yeah some days I feel like I’m 30 again!

I’ve heard you say this before in describing TSI, what does it mean to have “respect” for the rider?

     Well it’s about the “Razor” image you know. Razor, Micro over in Europe… The image that scooters were just a toy. I mean it just like skateboards. Skateboard were just a toy when I first started skating, all plastic, all toys. The image evolved to a real hardcore sport, it wasn’t a toy anymore. For scooters I wanted to portray the same thing. The seriousness that this is real, this is a sport, this is to be taken seriously. The exact opposite of a little kid riding around the park being called “gay” and I’ve heard it. You ride by them and they yell out “Scooters are gay!” I don’t know if it’s to get attention or whatever but it was my objective to change that opinion. You can only do that with high quality products that people like and that’s what I wanted to make, the scooters the professionals would ride. I mean KC was a pro at the time going to Planet X games in Australia, Japan and all over the US and there was competitions like CooterCon going on and it was time to make a product that Professionals would ride.

How far does it go when you say Handmade? I know the FlowMasters had to be.

    Yeah right here in my garage, on my table saw. I made thousands of them, all hand cut right here and I sent them over to a guy who welds in his garage and he would weld them as fast as I would cut ‘em. We had my whole family in the garage… My daughter, my wife, my daughters friends were all drilling holes and putting in pop nuts and sanding decks. I mean it was all hand made, everything was… Well minus the headtube itself obviously, got that done at a local machine shop

You make profit at that point, did you pay yourself?

   (laughter) no I was just trying to build capital, the first year was great. I was basically turning around the money and putting it in to doing larger production runs, I was trying to satisfy the need for an aftermarket deck… but the second year after all the competition came on the market sales started to drop and by the end of the second years our sales didn’t exist anymore and we had to do something to save the company. The FlowMaster wasn’t it anymore, the Scepter bar wasn’t taking off and Thom Cat forks never really was a big seller.

So in comes the flight deck?

   Yeah it was the deck that KC had designed back in the very beginning, before I ever met him he has this design for a really curvy deck, I mean it had concave on the top, concave on the side, concave on the bottom and it was like there wasn’t one straight line involved with the deck… That was something I had to hand draw with paper and pencil and work out all the angles and everything.  I mean it drove my Engineer crazy when he was trying to design the CAD program for the extrusion because it wasn’t something you would normally do on a CAD program… But we did, we designed that crazy wild deck and I know I was trying to guessimate what the weight was and I kinda wanted it to be a little lighter than the FlowMaster but not too light and that was my big mistake back then, I made it too thick and when it come out I was kinda disappointed

The walls too thick?

  Yeah the walls, I made it all 1/8th” thick ‘cause that’s what the flowmaster was 1/8th Aluminum tubing with an 1/8th deck plate so the Flight was 1/8th also. I did it although I didn’t have the money at the time to invest into the Flight, we were pretty much flat broke at the time. I went to the machine shop that I was going to for the headtubes because I was going to do a couple of Thom Cat forks and I wanted to see if he had any parts left over. He asked how business was and I told him it really sucked at the time and he wanted to know what the problem was and I told him it was competition, everyone has extruded decks now and our product wasn’t desirable anymore and we needed an extrusion die which I told him costs $5000.

    He volunteered to loan us the $5000 but he would need to hold the title to our vehicles. So I signed over the TSI van and KC signed over his Nissan 240 and we borrowed the 5 grand for the flight deck. I have to just say this and I haven’t said to anyone before but I guess I just wanna go on record on saying I’m really sorry about the Flight deck. Sometimes things turn out and sometimes things don’t… I mean it was enough to keep us going but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be and anyone who bought it I mean I’m sorry how heavy it was or if the concave was too much… I take things personally when it comes to a product being released and I’m not happy with it. I had to pay back that $5000 and it ended up with me being $2500 in the hole. I had used the credit I had with our extrusion guys to establish a Net30 program where basically they’ll run the extrusions and I have 30 days to pay them back and that’s when I ordered the Threshold Extrusion in hopes the Threshold would pay off the Flight deck and that’s what ended up happening.

   That’s what a lot of people don’t know about TSI, we never really did make any money, I mean not until just recently have we been able to actually start growing because of the hardships we had. We don’t have a bank behind us, We’ve never got a business loan, I don’t have credit cards… I did it all with my own money and my own hands cause I knew there was no way I was gonna give up.

Lets talk about the creation of the Threshold cause it’s no secret that it’s got a foothold now

   Well when we were doing the FlowMaster Hep sent me a drawing that he did in SketchUp, it was basically a FlowMaster but with wide dropouts, wide rails. Rectangles instead of squares and I thought to myself “well that’s gonna be too heavy” ya know? The FlowMaster was too heavy already. Besides that I didn’t have a way to do it at the time, I didn’t have a way to make that deck. I always thought about that drawing and I was into the Flight deck like 2 months when I realized there was no way I could make money with that deck so I drew two rectangles with concave and I said, that’s it. That’s what I want to go get. I got an estimate on it but through advise from other people they said ‘you’ve got to really give the flight a chance’ ya know? You gotta try to make that money back on the excursion to pay back that loan. So we ran the flight deck for a full year and I knew after that I was done.

  I needed to get the Threshold released. I flew Hep Greg out to SD6 and he came back up Oregon after the competition and we sat down and I showed him the design and we said okay ‘lets do it.’ This is what we have to do, this is the only thing that we can do to save the company. If we didn’t we would have been out of business. It was January when I made the 5” wide threshold Prototype in my garage and I sent that over to Hep and he finally got to test it out, he thought it was amazing and it was something we really needed to do so I ordered the excursion for the Thresholds.

4.5” wide right?

      Yeah because 4.5 was the most common size at the time. When we were doing the FlowMasters the 4.5 deck plate was the most common, plus 5” on a fully boxed extrusion can scrape on turns with 110mm wheels. It might be fine with 125mm though. It would still probably be too heavy, a 5” Thresh would probably be a 4lb deck and there isn’t much you can do to lighten it up without reducing the strength.

  So when we finally got it released we used the T plates from our original FlowMasters. I had a box of those still left over, we used the headtubes from the Flight decks and some leftover downtube material so all I needed to do was to replace the deck extrusion itself and use the old stock from the garage. I was so excited leading up to the Threshold because it was actually something I wanted to ride. I stepped on a district deck and I liked the way it felt, I mean to be honest. It had a good feel to it… but I wanted to come up with something just a little better than the district.

Alright Matt, we’ll finish it off here with the big one, whats your dream for TSI?

  Growth. One word right now is growth. When your building a company you have to build a strong foundation before you can build up. That’s what I like to tell myself is what I’ve been doing this whole time is building a foundation and now I can start growing up. A company is people, it’s all about finding the right people, right now, growing at the right pace and making the right decisions to sustain our own company like a family. That’s it, I wanna make enough to sustain us to supply the sport but I’m not out to take over the world. I don’t want 100% of all the sales ya know? I just want to have the best product that I can and people can realized that TSI is the company that provides that. This sport could blow up and become huge or it can die away but either way I want to have a sustainable company that will survive it because I am here to do this for the rest of my life… Or til I retire… In which case you’ll have to take over (laughter).

Which brings me to giving back to riders, I know that means a lot to you

   That’s the part that hurts me the most, because I can’t take care of my riders like the big companies can. I can’t send people to France, I can’t send people to Australia ya know? I don’t have the funding, I don’t have the volume or money it takes to take care of riders like the big companies can and that’s what saddens me is that I can’t do that. It’s really a goal with all this because I feel so guilty, really guilty about running this company and sponsoring riders and kinda stringing them along and say in’ “hey follow us we’re gonna get somewhere” and ya know, it’s taken a long time just to get where we’re at right now but now the threshold is taking off, I’m able to take care of riders a little more. I offered to fly guys to CooterCon and I’m hoping by the SD comp I can fly some riders out there and get our team together. I mean that’s my ultimate goal when we talk about growing the company, It’s growing the company enough to where I can take care of my riders because they have been reppin’ us for so long. They deserve it, they’ve been working their ass off

Blood Sweat and Tears…

  Yeah exactly and it’s not like their getting a pay cheque. for saying the things that they say like the other companies, ya know? They just believe in what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. That’s all! I donno, sometimes I feel like there's not enough companies doing what we’re doing. It’s about taking care of the riders, employees, people who have believed in me this whole time, that’s what keeps me going because I owe it to ‘em, I owe it to everybody… and then after everybody’s taken care of , then I’m gonna take care of myself.

Thanks Matt
-Travis House

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Philly Files Teaser

Parrish nailed this one : "Documentations of further studies in the field of scooter riding and related activities centered around the eastern coast of the United States of America. To be released more likely in the future than the past." 

Get hyped!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Green Lab Bowl Jam

We're fixing to have ourselves a nice shred sesh with some Hootigh riders on Columbus day!  If you're on the east coast, don't fake. Come drink & ride with us. See you there.. 

(Props to Hep Greg for making this sick flyer)

- McKeen

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"This or Dat" with Cameron Poe

Caught up with Cam Poe after he let us edit a part for Proto Scooters, here's what we asked him

Steep rail or Mellow rail : Mellow Rail

Round or Square : Square

Kickless rewind or Normal rewind : Normal rewind, kicklesses are wack.

East coast or West coast : West Coast

Death by hill bomb or Death by mega ramp : Death by hill bomb

Short bars or Tall bars : Tall bars

Tame Impala or The Beatles : Tame Impala

HD or VX : Proper HD

Ass or Tits : Asssss

Del Taco or In n' Out : In n' Out

Sliders or Grippers : Sliders

Corporate business or Rider owned : Rider Owned

Up in the Mountains or On the Beach : On the Beach

Peep the edit if you haven't taken a gander yet!

- McKeen