Cold War Skateboards: Outsiders Profile
Cold War Skateboards
When was your company established?
Who is the owner of your company?
Myself (Randy Gawlik) and my good friend Steve Grover
How come you started this company?
We were both looking for something to believe in basically. We thought it would be cool to make skateboards that we liked. We knew if we started small then at least we could push them on our friends if they didn’t sell. We had always independently wanted to be involved in the skateboard industry somehow. We did some preliminary work on opening a skate shop, which fell through, thank god. We came from similar geographical backgrounds midwest mid-80’s suburban punks. We decided to try and make the kind of skateboards that would have appealed to us back in the day, but crossed with today’s concaves and double kicks. At the Time there weren’t a lot of functional or accessible shapes and sizes for us older guys like there is now. It was a logical extension of the DIY thing, since both of us had been involved in Midwest skate/punk scenes, made zines, built ramps, been our own bosses, etc.
Where is your company based out of:
My garage and basement.
How has your company changed since it was started?
We actually make stuff we can sell! When we started we did a lot of research and made a lot of mis-screened boards that looked crappy. We’re still learning and we still make mistakes, but we’re making advances. In the beginning we thought we would appeal mostly to older guys and collectors, but as a result of interest we expanded into smaller and more traditional popsicle sticks as well as a larger shape that is bigger than something we would have typically ridden. We’re still pretty unorganized. Every time we think we have some business aspect figured out, we realize there’s a ton more that we don’t. Every time we have delusions of grandeur something always brings us back down to earth.
What products are you offering?
We have Signature models for the Dickies, Naked Raygun, The Groovie Ghoulies, Art and Steve Godoy, and are about to release an Epoxies model. We have team boards (non-signature) in standard shapes as well as 3 custom shapes. We also have shirts, hooded sweats, and stickers.
Who are your team riders?
Well, we’ve got Art and Steve Godoy, but they aren’t competing. We have some local guys that you’ve never heard of, including 2 of the 3 known people to complete the loop in Reedsport, Lance Leisher and Rion Linderman. The rest are our friends and kids who have become our friends at the local parks. We’re pretty low key about our roster. Still figuring it out, actually.
How tough is it to get recognition for your company?
Pretty tough. It’s even hard on our home turf. Portland has a heavy local skate history, and you have to prove yourself if you’re an outsider or someone who wasn’t around for the formative Burnside years, during which we were both scattered all over the Midwest, Colorado, and the east coast. Fortunately the jury has decided that we aren’t COMPLETE kooks… Part of our small success has come from the fact that we make stuff that nobody else does, which is getting harder and harder to say. On a National level? Forget it. We don’t have the riders that travel, the photo sessions in all the California hot spots, or the advertising budget so it’s even harder. Oregon is where the best parks are but it’s still a pretty isolated scene for the industry.
What are your company’s hopes for the future? Is there any kind of motto your company is based off of?
Our biggest hope is to still be in business in 10 years, still making the kind of boards that we think are cool. Even if it’s just a marginal existence under the radar of the main skateboarding pulse like we have now, I’d be happy. Actually, I’d be happy if we were breaking even. In terms of grand schemes, I think it would be amazing if we could actually make a living from Cold War, but we’re not holding our breath. Yes we are. It would make us feel warm and fuzzy if we were able to help a local kid get some national exposure and do well in the business if he wanted too.
Yeah, it’s “Do we have in money in left in the checkbook?”
Is there any kind of motto your company is based off of?
We don’t have an official motto. If we did it would be something like “We make this stuff for us, not for you!” but I suppose that sounds a little selfish. A better option would be “We like our stuff and hope you do too.”
Randy wasn’t through yet and finished off with these questions
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD HAVE ASKED BUT DIDN’T:
What’s the best part of the experience been?
Definitely some of the people we’ve met. Not only for the signature models, some of which were longtime heroes of ours, but also a lot of the people in the industry and scene at large who have helped us out or given us encouragement. It’s nice to feel connected to the larger part of skateboarding, even if it is only on the fringe. Initially it was actually seeing our designs as a finished project. We were both super stoked the first time we went to a park and saw someone riding one of our boards without knowing them or knowing how or where they got the board.
What’s the worst experience been?
Dealing with flaky people and getting lied to. There is also a certain amount of back stabbing and cloak and dagger crap that goes on, and I was really surprised to experience it at our level since we are so small. Also, the few times that we unknowingly shipped a warped or defective board really bummed us out.
What’s the funniest experience been?
Being at a local skate park and overhearing little kids say things in awe like “That dog belongs to the guy that OWNS Cold War Skateboards!” We get tons of requests to sponsor events and donate product and send banners and such, which is pretty funny because they obviously don’t know that it’s being run out of my basement and garage. They must think we have some big production facility and warehouse. Remember that the next time you see a fancy advert in a magazine. All it means is that someone knows how to design with a computer and they scraped enough money together to pay for an ad.
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