Rocky Heights Eighth-Grader Launches His Own Longboarding Company
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Frustrated by the lack of affordably-priced longboard decks, one Rocky Heights Middle School student decided to remedy the problem by starting his own company. FlowJoe Longboards is the brainchild of 13-year-old entrepreneur Ryan Nickell. By working with a manufacturer in California, Nickell sells his 100 percent Canadian maple longboards for just $75, much less than the typical $120 to $300.“ After my first couple of longboards, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t anybody sell a good longboard?,’” Nickell said. “$180 for a deck? It’s just a piece of wood. A lot of those guys up there are trying to get tons of profit and they are succeeding at it.”
Longboarding is more about riding, cruising around the neighborhood and doing “slides” with one gloved hand on the ground than doing the tricks and ramps usually associated with shorter skateboards.After he kept getting hurt skateboarding, Nickell gave longboarding a shot two years ago. Longboarders can purchase Nickell’s boards through his website, www.flowjoelongboards.com, but he mostly sells them to his friends and other local skaters who share the same problem of finding the average deck too expensive.
Even after donating 10 percent of the sale of every board to skateministry.org, Nickell is still able to make a profit. On Friday nights, Nickell meets other longboarders at Warehouse 180 in Arvada for SkateChurch, a gathering of Christian skaters and a prime venue for selling his boards.
“I’m donating to Skate Ministry because, first off, that’s my church,” Nickell said. “I love it there. I think that if I’m selling skateboards and making a profit over there, it’s like giving an offering.” Nickell is following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his parents, Renee and Roger. Renee has her own graphic design business and Roger has a painting business. Ryan has immersed himself in his passion, Renee said. “He would do so much research online and in the stores and shops, and he became a young expert on certain things,” she said. “He hasn’t been afraid to step out there and experiment with things.”
The company functions as a family business, said Roger, with Renee as creative designer, Roger as project manager and Ryan as president and sales manager.“We help him as far as the business side of things goes,” Roger said. “I think he’s a naturally born salesman. He’s an extrovert.” The basketball player whose favorite subjects are math and science, says his longboard business is something he would be interested in as a career some day. He already considers it much more than a hobby. “I see it as a job almost,” he said.
Written by Heather Sackett Of The Denver Post