Jati is the brainchild of Aldrian Harjati. The little Asian dude from setup up shop about 4 years ago in his garage and started pressing the most durable downhill boards yet. Apparently first called Black Sheep and due to copyright infringement changed the name to Jati which I honestly like a lot better. Now four years later he has over 10 gnarly decks ranging from topmount downhill boards to super drop long distance skating decks. The decks that this man produces are both diverse, unique and durable. Just like his boards Aldrian has hand selected a team that shares the same qualities as his boards. In my opinion the folks on the Jati team are some of the best skaters in the southeast even including some skaters from Asia and Colorado. Keep an eye out at the next slide jam, push race or downhill event and you’re guaranteed to see a Jati. Take a look at the interview below to see how Aldrian made this incredible company.
So how did you start this company?
Well, it started 2004. Well not Jati boards but I just started building boards.
Why did you want to start building boards?
Well Dana’s dad kind of got me into wood working and I kind of wanted a project that didn’t require many expensive tools. Right so anyway I was biking a lot and I really didn’t want to keep dragging the bikes around so I wanted something easy to take to piedmont park. I said, well skateboarding would be good but I don’t want to buy one. So I started making them.
Cuz making skateboards is easy.
Yea well anyway I started researching and there wasn’t much out there I mean youtube was like just starting. Anyway I found something simple where you could make a skateboard without using a press and just using weights. From then I started experimenting with different techniques like, camber, kicktails, vacuum press, or even a foam press. That wasn’t very repeatable though so I moved to a wooden mold.
Dana: Well actually you tried a concrete mold first!
You tried a concrete mold??
Yea the box that he made was like so heavy that it didn’t work so we had to call 1-800-JUNK to get them to come pick it up. It was at least 200-300lbs. It was such a hot mess.
Well at least we tried. Anyway that’s why I moved to the wooden mold which had clamps. Back in 2006 I started experimenting with more complex shapes like concave and I started hanging out with some local guys and I met some of LBA which at the time was at a parking garage with like Al, Will and John. So I was like “hey how’s it goin” and he was like “hey how’s it goin”.
Who knew that they would be boyfriends?
Anyway I lent him one of my boards and he said that he wanted me to make downhill boards because at the time they were all hitting [skate spot] pretty much consistently.
So what board did you end up making for them?
The Ninjati. The mold was hand shaped.
Aldrian came back from pizza with Al and had a napkin with a board sketched on it and was like “Dana! This is the board I’m gonna make!”
Yea so I pressed it and brought it to [skate spot] for them to try out and they were like “holy shit. Like you actually made it.”.
Did you start the company yet?
No I was thinking about it but I didn’t have my license yet. I mean there was a lot of trial and error between the first board I made to starting the company.
That’s was pisses me off is he gets emails like “How do I start a company?” and they don’t know how difficult it is to get it going. I mean it took him 5 years of trial and error to get him to where he is.
Yea so I started a blog first and I started getting my technique down to make sure I could make repeatable boards.
Then he thought about making custom boards but that lasted two months back in 2008-2009.
Then you started the company?
Yea so originally the company was called Black Sheep Boards but I found out that the name was already taken so I changed the name legally change the name to JATI BOARDS.
Well probably better I mean your last name is HARJATI.
Yea and also Jati means teak which is a kind of strong wood.
So the name of your company is actually Strong Wood.
Right. Anyway from there I got my business license and I started the company. Initially we had a little corner shop in Grant Park in a warehouse where furniture was made. The guy who owned the furniture store really helped me a lot with glue and molds and stuff. I mean I really learned a lot from him.
Yea that was the place that was like super hot and stuff?
Yea it didn’t have insulation or anything so in the summer it was just so freaking hot. Right anyway so what some people don’t know is that when you start a skateboard business you are starting a manufacturing business so you need to find industrial zoned space. Which is why it took so long to get everything started. I mean I almost gave up but I randomly searched on craigslist and I found this little corner shop which was 500 ft^2 in a 5000 sq ft^2 warehouse.
So then what?
Well from there we actually started planning a lineup and we came out with the Ronin, Akira and Ninjati. Then from there we made he Kato, Gojira, etc. It was a lot of trial and error still. I mean we threw like 20 boards a week away.
Well what about Loaded? What were they doing?
I mean they had machines to do it. We were doing everything by hand. Measuring, cutting, drilling, sanding. We had to learn everything ourselves. At that point I talked to Chadd and Georgia and they put the word out to Stoked.
Yea and you had a lot of help like pushing you to make the company bigger. I mean John from Woody’s as well. Yea then we went from selling 1 board a month to 3 boards a week.
How many boards do you make now?
Well two years ago we still had a clamped press which was a two person job because you had to press both sides at the same time. Then I found out we could use a hydraulic press. I mean the internet starting getting better and I started seeing like factory tours and I started seeing these hydraulic presses and I was like “crap I can get someone to make this for me”.
Then..lucky. We had a friend who was a welder and make us two presses.
Yea so with the clamped press we pressed two boards a night. But once we got the hydraulic press we started increasing our lineup. In 2010 was when we released the Jiro and that board was the one that blew us off the map because we were one of the first making drop decks. I mean we were selling those boards like crazy. I mean in holiday season we sold like 20 boards a week. Right so after that we decided to find our own place and we moved to Marietta.
Right that’s the place you’re at now?
Yea I mean we have an office now and a working toilet. I mean our old place was disgusting. But that was the main upgrade.
Well now the shop has two rooms for making boards. So sanding, cutting, etc is in one room and drilling is in the other.
Yea we also have A/C and in the winter we have heat.
So that’s it?
You started doing alot of community stuff.
Yea we also started having new riders requesting sponsorship and we started having our team riders traveling around with our boards showing the longboard community the boards. We also got Aaron Hampshire sponsored who competes in a lot of races. We started getting a lot of local guys who started getting good and a lot more boards like Chop Suey and Karate Chop which is selling really well. I mean as time goes and we experiment with different molds, if we run into a problem we know how to fix them. A lot less running around.
Story by Carlos Montalvo, Longboard Atlanta