New Jersey is known for three things snowboard related Danny Kass, Grenade Gloves, and Mountain Creek. Other than that most people overlook what it offers and view it as the arm pit of New England, or at least I do. Well now Jersey can have some pride knowing that it has its own home grown snowboard brand in Blak Sheep Snowboards. Dave McPadden and Doug Smith the owners, founders, builders, and whatever hat they have to wear to get the job done sat down and answered a few questions about their brand and various happenings in snowboarding this is their take.
Angry Snowboarder: What does Made In The U.S.A. mean for Blak Sheep with the abundance of companies producing over seas? What’s it like being the only snowboard company building their boards in Jersey?
Doug: For me, made in USA means we’re supporting our own economy, not just the snowboard economy, but we are pulling from services that are local or other USA companies. Every one of our boards bought means SEVERAL USA small businesses are affected; their respective local economies are affected. When you buy a Chinese deck, who benefits? There are good people working for companies who produce overseas, I just feel more wholesome that we’re doing this locally, on our own. To those who build in the USA and go through the pain of really doing this, I commend you. To those reading who are not from the USA, apply the above to your own country. This is more about snowboarders running their own operation on their own turf, than it is about us being a USA company.
Doug cutting the flashing. How’s that for hands on even the owner builds his decks.
AS: What’s it like making boards out of NJ?
Doug: Tom Sims made the first NJ snowboard, so its nice to have that keeping us stoked. Its like anywhere else really, we’re just as close to shredding as someone making boards in LA, Reno or Denver is. We’re heavily influenced by ripping the East Coast which is rock solid booters, ice pipes, and rails with icy landings, we like boards that can carve well in-between the park features so that we can shred around all the beginners up for a day from NYC, but we need to be prepared for those storms that DO roll through. It just smells a little worse, people have a little more uptight attitude, and the taxes really suck. Oh and the average lifespan for us will be a little shorter.
Dave has pride in his product.
AS: With costs rising over seas if companies were to bring their production back to the U.S what would that do to a company of your size?
Doug: I think it could possibly make it more difficult for us to procure our materials, because the suppliers we’re using will be even more focused on these bigger guns that come back over from China trying to reclaim their made in USA status. Though it could also open more doors for us, as we currently pull supplies from some companies who are also snowboard companies themselves. I’m sure one or two of these bigger companies might look to do this as well. We’ll have to wait and see. We’re working to become more autonomous so that we will not be so affected by the supply chain shakeup, if one occurs.
Dave: It would be great because as our company grows we’ll make their boards too! I don’t care if other companies come back, they shouldn’t have left in the first place, there’s no reason why everything can’t be built here in USA.
Dave routing a sidewall.
AS: How important is it to be a company that is by snowboarders for snowboarders? Do you ever find that slogan to be a bit played out?
Doug: Oh it’s definitely played out. Every company claims it. We snowboard, we make boards, and we make them for snowboarders. Honestly it shouldn’t even have to be said. I just love seeing “hand crafted in china” on decks these days. I think the “by snowboarders” part holds true in the manufacturing aspect of it as well, at least it should. We should be working every part of it. If a couple snowboarders from China want to produce their own decks, and they rip, I’d LOVE to see that.
Dave: We snowboard, we love it, and so we built it. We’ve both been riding over 23 years, we’ve put that experience and progression into the ideas of the boards that we produce on our own today. Doug’s just angry because this is an interview for Angry Snowboarder.
AS: On the average how much time goes into the production of just one of your decks?
Doug: Three years.
Dave: I just told you, over 23 years of riding experience, plus the three plus years we’ve spent designing and testing and redesigning.
Finished product after 23 years of snowboarding and 3 years of development.
AS: Reverse camber or regular camber what’s going on with your guys camber profiles?
Doug/Dave: We developed what we’re calling Micrognarockamber, unless we come up with a better name for it! Anyway its what you’d expect from the name: a very subtle amount of rocker between the feet… and from the bindings out, an even smaller amount of camber. What does this do? It allows the center of the board to be slightly pre-flexed, thus making it easier to lean forward or back, but not so much that you have lost your contact along the length of the board. The pinch of camber outside the feet keeps potential energy in the areas where you want pop and landing support. We love how it came out, and how it has turned a twin freestyle shape into a board that can handle jumps, rails, groomers, and even pow. Not saying it’s a solution to every need, but so far we have lost the desire to break out any of our old decks, and others who ride them will agree.
AS: How do you feel about companies patenting reverse camber?
Doug: Patenting reverse camber? Give me a break. Dude it’s a bend, but everyone bends them different. We developed ours on our own, its pretty much common sense really and a little influence from what’s been going on currently.
Dave: It comes from surfboards, and every surfboard is different in terms of how much rocker they use, where it starts, how it transitions, etc. By the way, water-skis have also been rockered forever, so are wakeboards.
AS: Through your eyes you’ve seen a lot of changes from the early days of snowboarding to what is going on currently, what can you say about the direction snowboarding has gone in the last 20 plus years?
Dave: Snowboarding used to pull from surfing and skateboarding. Now all board sports are influenced by each other. People are pulling rodeo’s on surfboards and skateboards. Skateboarding has its own “big air” and corked maneuvers from snowboarding.
Doug: The boards just keep getting better, and it keeps making it more and more fun. Now it’s going toward the microscopic level. They used to be more flashy, more artistic with shapes. Now we’re seeing some of it revisited: reverse camber because it works, throwback graphics to pay tribute, neat non rounded tips because it differentiates the board and gives it a cool factor. And triple Lutz’s! Oh my word.
AS: In your opinion out of all the issues facing snowboarding right now what do you foresee as the biggest issue that needs to be tackled right away?
Dave: I am the issue!
Doug: It’s a “Jersey thing,” sorry man. Aside from that, I’d like to see more un-political, un-funded, unbiased (though opinionated) sites such as this one, where the truth can be unraveled about what’s going on in snowboarding today.