Manufacturer Profile: Five Mile Longboards
How did you get involved in making skateboard products? Cody Shea and Dan Kasmar had both been building decks separately for several years before joining forces in 2007, but wanted Five Mile to be something drastically different from the start. We originally attempted to find a manufacturing facility that would be willing to take on the task of bending the wood the way we wanted it while we chipped away at production ourselves. After two full years of searching, we decided to face the reality that no one in the industry at that time was willing to take us on as a potential client at a reasonable cost, because our boards need to be pressed individually. We were left to either do what everyone else was doing, or say “F— it” and do it ourselves.
What happened next? The early part of the Five Mile manufacturing process began with foam molds and vacuum bagging. This process served us well while we were floating from garage to garage. But in May 2010, everything changed. We moved into a brand new 2000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the heart of industrial Tacoma, Washington, and began redesigning our production process and our molds. Cody welded up a six-bay, air-bladder diaphragm press to keep up production numbers, 3D files of all models were then generated for perfect molds, and we moved to a silkscreened graphic. For this year, the curves are crazier and each model will be getting its own heat-transfer graphic created by our pool of artists. Through all the ups and downs, the Five Mile goal has stayed the same: build sick boards that help us and our friends skate faster and go bigger.
What gives you the most satisfaction when it comes to building longboards? Five Mile formed from our dissatisfaction with what was out there to ride. As time has gone by, we have stayed on course with our original mission to make boards that we and our friends get stoked to ride. That is what keeps us going: being able to take our dream curves and walk them through everystep of the process, right up to everyone arguing over who gets the first prototype of a new design. Seeing the circle of friends that ride our decks grow exponentially, and their level of excitement for our boards, truly makes all of the struggles worth it.
What do you see happening to North American skateboard manufacturing? “Innovate or Die” is the entire philosophy behind our company. We believe in progressive innovation in the designs that go into each of our products, and we are constantly trying to push the limits of wood bending, in a quest to create an effective rider interface for skating of ALL terrains and styles. We’re predicting, with as fast as this segment of the skate industry is growing, that more and more companies will be adding more advanced contours to their wood decks. As this happens, we truly believe that it will all come down to “innovate, or get left behind.”
By Micheal Brooke