Banking on a skateboard revival

064_oow_1Mike Mahoney runs a unique woodworking business that produces longboard skateboards. Though he’s built skateboards for fun since high school, he got serious in 2005 and opened Honey Skateboards in Grand Junction, Colo. Because of the growing popularity of his product, Mahoney says he almost doubles production every year and estimates he’ll make about 2,000 boards this year.

Mahoney has developed a reputation for building quality boards that are beautiful to look at and fun to ride. Using exotic woods, he implements an advanced laminated construction method that creates perfect alignment of the top and bottom stringer patterns. This gives his products the look of a solid wood board with the ride qualities of a laminated board.

“The main difference in my board, as opposed to what’s out there, is if you picture a skateboard, you probably picture it with some wild graphic on it. We have no graphic on ours. We cut blocks that are called stringer patterns — this comes from the old classic surfboards with stripes of different woods — glue them up and resaw them into veneers for our tops and bottoms.”

Most longboards measure 33” to 59”, while the deck of a standard skateboard is 28 to 33”. Longboards have bigger, softer and more forgiving wheels so they’re easier to use and better for turning, says Mahoney. He believes business is improving because of a heightened popularity with younger age groups.

“Five years ago, you couldn’t put a teenager on a longboard; they would snub their nose at it. Now, middle school kids ride them to school.”

64_oow_2Longboarding is broken up into three performance categories, he explains. They include cruising, such as for transportation on college campuses; downhill racing; and free riding, a blend of choreographic moves and tricks.

“Another huge demographic for us includes people in their 30s, 40s and early 50s who skateboarded when they were younger and have either have stayed in touch with it or want to get back in touch because of their children,” says Mahoney.

He has 12 models in his standard line, which sell for $150 to $265, and takes custom orders. The most popular models are the Velocity and Amp 6.

Mahoney says he is planning to add machinery to expand his operation. An avid cyclist, he is also starting to make three-ply fenders for a variety of bicycles. He has two full-time employees and one part-time seasonal helper.

Contact: Honey Skateboards. Tel: 970-609-7587. www.honeyskateboards.com

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.