Pine man's family project rolls into skateboard business
What started as a family side project making custom skateboards turned into a full-fledged business for Shawn Arlock.
“It's something I always wanted to do,” he said. “I have twin boys who wanted to skateboard, and I wanted to make it interactive and make them myself.”
Arlock, 41, of Pine, started making his custom long board skateboards last November under the name East Coast Customs.
He started out selling them on eBay, but as demand for his one-of-a-kind boards grew, he began reaching out to local stores and beach shops along the East Coast. He said his boards are sold in 26 shops up and down the coast.
The former Jersey Shore native crafts each skateboard one at a time in a workshop in Zelienople, combining new technologies with a classic look. Each skateboard starts out as individual sheets of exotic wood veneer from Mars Lumber in Adams.
Arlock starts by pressing the wood veneer together using a 50-ton press. Then he carefully cures, shapes, sands and seals the board in a process that takes a couple of days. The trucks and wheels that steer and propel the skateboard come from California, making the boards 100 percent made in the U.S.
“It's old school,” Arlock said. “It's how they used to do it in the ‘80's, and they last forever.”
He said commercial skateboard manufacturers produce a lot of their boards overseas, using heat curing techniques that can cause the board to delaminate over time.
“It's an industry that fell into a cookie-cutter — make as many as possible for cheap as possible — mindset,” he said. “Back in the day, you made one or two at a time, and they were great boards and lasted forever.”
“I love what I do. I don't make as many as them. This isn't something I'm going to get rich off of, but I love what I do,” he said.
Arlock retails his boards for $150 to $180, which is competitive with major skateboard brands, he said. The hand-crafted look and feel of the boards is attractive to customers.
Tattoo's by Boney Joe in Zelienople displays a few East Coast Customs boards in the front window of the shop. Owner Joe Clark said they generate a good bit of interest locally.
“There's a definite following of the long board craze right now,” Clark said. “A lot of kids are doing it because they're cruisers, not for tricks, just for scooting down a sidewalk.”
Long board skateboards are not designed to perform tricks on ramps, à la the skateboarding style of Tony Hawk. They're designed for a laid back style of riding, with bigger, softer wheels that can roll easily over cracks in the sidewalk, Arlock said.
“They're made to take a cruise, real popular in beach communities. They're easy and comfortable to ride,” he said.
The long boards are growing in popularity with the older crowd, like himself, who want to relive child memories on the skateboard.
Arlock grew up skateboarding and surfing on the Jersey Shore. He said his target customers are between ages 25 and 60.
To purchase a board or get more information on East Coast Customs, visit www.ecclongboards.com.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.