November 25, 2014 – 2:57 PM | No Comment

Omen Longboards started with the Carbon Matrix, which was the collaboration between a bunch of local Seattle skaters including Nate Blackburn and Trevor Preston. Omen didn’t have a physical location at the time, so the Matrix was outsourced to a local company. Due to the relatively low price tag (compared to other carbon boards) Omen gained some notoriety pretty quickly. After a little under a year, Omen procured space in a north Seattle garage and started producing the first Pike prototypes.

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MFG Profile: Omen Longboards

Submitted by admin on November 25, 2014 – 2:57 PM
| No Comment

Omen Longboards started with the Carbon Matrix, which was the collaboration between a bunch of local Seattle skaters including Nate Blackburn and Trevor Preston. Omen didn’t have a physical location at the time, so the Matrix was outsourced to a local company. Due to the relatively low price tag (compared to other carbon boards) Omen gained some notoriety pretty quickly. After a little under a year, Omen procured space in a north Seattle garage and started producing the first Pike prototypes.
Omen-Longboards-Header-575Is it difficult to be located outside of southern California?
No, not at all. We drool over the videos coming out of California but we don’t sweat living here. We’re only a few hours from one of the best hills in the world, and when the weather really sucks up here we can usually find the sun in Vancouver, Oregon, or northern California. Seattle is a beautiful city in the spring and summer, and the winter provides us with some of the best powder in the world. We love the trade off between seasons, and the variable climate forces us to be more dynamic riders.

Omen Board ProcessWhat does the brand stand for?

Omen stands for local-ism and for doing things right. All our research and development takes place at our shop in Seattle, all our boards are built here, all our shirts are printed here, our videos are filmed and edited here for the most part… you get the picture. We rose from the shared ideas of local skaters, so we are indebted to them and to the Seattle skate scene. We’ve never sacrificed the quality of our handmade boards in order to facilitate more sales, we’ve never outsourced any part of the production process, and with the single exception of the Canadian hard rock maple we use for our boards, we’ve never used any materials that don’t originate in America.

What makes your boards different?
Using huge hydraulic presses and a multi-phase heating process, we give each of our boards a dramatic concave scheme designed to facilitate one or more types of riding. Part of the reason we are able to give our boards particularly dramatic concave is that the climate around here is pretty humid so the wood we have stored in the warehouse has a naturally higher moisture content. This means that we can subject a board to intense heat and pressure without it cracking as quickly as it might in a very dry environment. One of the most unique and immediately noticeable aspects of our boards are the graphics. While many companies use large stickers to cover the board as the last step in production, we apply our graphics before we’ve even pressed the board. Because we’re using an entirely in-house screen-printing process, we have the freedom to use any color schemes we want and to easily change graphics in order to customize boards. It’s a less efficient process, admittedly, but we think the finished product looks better this way. Our boards have a more unique look because no two are exactly the same. In addition, we hand paint all exposed wood grain on the sides and wheel wells because we think it looks mean as hell and we don’t like seeing the layers of wood and glue that are exposed when the wells are cut out.

When it comes to research and development, what types of things are you doing?
We research and develop like most small companies do. Once we have a shape in mind, we press a handful and get them out to team riders and local shredders to give them the opportunity to test concave schemes, wheelbase options, overall size and durability before we turn them on the public. Omen rose out of the northwest skate scene, so we are indebted to the skaters and supporters who helped us get to where we are. Losing sight of that would send our company in a direction that nobody here is interested in.

What have been some of your challenges?

Probably the most challenging aspect of starting a new company is generating interest in the product with a limited budget. We were fortunate to have support from local shops from the beginning, which helped give our boards a good reputation. In the early days we were really experimenting with pressing and applying graphics, so we had to do a lot of tweaking and post-production work to turn out decent looking Pikes. Our original screens for the Pike were hand made from wood and warped within a few months, so for a while we were doing touch up on almost every board we made. At this point, factory second boards kept us alive. There were times when it seemed like that’s all we made, which was incredibly frustrating from a production standpoint, but ended up exposing our boards to a huge audience because of the super low price tag. We’re happy to say that isn’t an issue anymore; we haven’t made a factory second board in months.

What’s your team like?
The Omen team has grown pretty organically so far. That is to say, most of our riders came into a position on our team because they were killing it at local events and making a good name for the northwest skate community. We don’t sponsor kids based on emails or Facebook messages, but on their drive to build their local scene, wherever that may be, and skate for the purpose of growing as a rider and having fun with their friends. We’re very fortunate to have such a tight team, from the original northwest crew, to the east coast boys, up into Canada and all the way down to Jose de Icaza in Ecuador. We love our team and look forward to watching it grow.

Are you optimistic about the future of longboarding?

Hell yeah we’re optimistic. Longboarding has grown exponentially in the last decade, and we don’t see it slowing down much. It’s really humbling to see the international scene developing the way it has, and we think that’s what is going to drive the continued expansion of the sport. Personally, we’re really excited to become a more dynamic company that can offer a more diverse lineup. We’d like to be able to cater to riders of every size, age, and skill set. While we will always be a performance longboard company, we are set on blurring some lines that separate the longboard and skateboard industries. Most of our team riders are already dividing their time between downhill and park skating, so it’s natural for us to make an effort to support all aspects of skating that our guys are engaging in.

What are some of your key goals?
Expanding our lineup is our main focus right now. Summer 2014 will see several new Omen boards added to the lineup, hopefully some podiums for our racers, tons of local races and slide jams, and some gross sunburns and road rash. Our favorite combination.

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