The 80s Geeks Who Run Skateboarding
These skaters stayed true to what they believed and became Skate Mega Stars
[part title="Per Welinder"]
Per Welinder was a Swedish freestyle skateboarder, who picked up a board aged 15. He was incredibly progressive and was the only person to ever succesfully beat freestyle king Rodney Mullen in competiton. Welinder was also the son of an advertising and marketing guru which rubbed off on him immensely.
In an interview Welinder says he "reached out to Swatch Watch and inquired with them to see what their interest level was to get into sponsoring skateboarding in a big way." His initiative was correctly timed with Swatch and he opened the door to a new type of commercial development in skating. Swatch then put together a successful skate team, which also sponsored freestyle legends Mullen and Pierre Andre.
Pierre later took his focus and dedication to skateboarding to the design world and set up shoe company Etnies. He innovated the style of the shoes whilst making them as durable for skateboarding as possible.
Interview with Pierre Andre:
Pierre's vision has now extended far beyond Etnies, his company is now known as STI Technologies. STI is the worlds first biomechanical research organisation with a dedication to improving skate technology.
He founded a new company called World Industries with Rodney Mullen in 1989 which helped to popularise street skateboarding. His advertising style was particularly popular. World Industries weren't afraid to belittle and ridicule their competition but they proved extremely successful with customers. In just a few years Rocco and Mullen had built the most successful skateboarding company of the 21st century.
Rocco's story is told best in the documentary The Man Who Souled the World which tells his journey from up and coming amateur skater to becoming the co-owner of one the biggest skate companies ever. Rocco has been retired from the skate industry for a few years having sold World Industries and although he was considered a geek by his peers in the 80s, Rocco went on to define skateboarding for the next 20 years.
[part title="Rodney Mullen"]
Rodney Mullen revolutionised skateboarding. He was a geeky teenager who was obsessed with maths and engineering and applied it to skating before become one of the most important - and successful - people to have picked up a board.
Rodney was the sole inventor of the majority of modern skateboard tricks, he invented the flatground ollie, the kickflip and the 360 kickflip. Mullen won every freestyle contest he entered, except one when he was ill, and he was picked up by Powell-Peralta and joined the infamous Bones Brigade. In 1989 Rodney left the team, joining Steve Rocco and starting up World Industries. Mullen was co partner and was instrumental in the companies success, making many key decisions in the aesthetic, project management and branding of the company. In 2000 he applied for a United States Patent in support of the innovative design work he had done on skateboard trucks and decks and his work was granted full patented status.
Rodney's intelligence allowed him to have a stake in skateboarding beyond that of a normal skater, he was now showing people how to skate and what to use to do it. Then, in 2002, World Industries was sold to Globe International for a whopping $46 Million and Rodney became a multi millionaire overnight.
Since his companies sale , Rodney has become a renowned public speaker delivering speeches about the skateboarding community, innovation and turning a nerd into a business leader. Rodney and the rest of this group are living proof that if you stay true to what you believe in you can achieve your wildest dreams.