Posts Tagged ‘Jake Burton’

In The Great Dice Game That Is The Skate Shoe Business, Gravis IVSK8 Wagered, Rolled And Lost

October 24, 2012

Winter arrived early this week for the action-goods provider Burton, as P&L discontent forced tough decisions at the top that abruptly left Nordic sweater Arto Saari, stylistic watchword Dylan Rieder and others shoe deal-less and set adrift on the ice floe that is free agency in the current economy, increasingly resembling a scene from one of the early, J Strickland-helmed Baker videos where a poor dude is rolling on the ground and groaning in super slow-mo. Is what it is and all involved are wished well, though things appear somewhat brighter for pro and am endorsers of Analog brand pants, who according to this press release will enjoy certain hand-holding procedures throughout this difficult period:

Regarding the Analog surf and skate teams, we will be working with each team rider individually on an exit plan to transition them out of the brand.

The gap in sponsorship largesse is expected to be felt most heavily by Southern California thrift-store proprietors, several leasing agents and various weed spots, while the hardgoods industry collectively contorts and careens as it attempts to financially nose manual through a global recession period. As consumers we lose out by way of a thinner selection of goods available for our paycheques and one less competitor to keep honest rival shoe sellers. Yet the untimely demise of Gravis’ “IVSK8” lineup could signal that a deeper and more troubling loss already be lurks elsewhere, buried among footnotes in the great balance sheet of our psyches.

Foisting another footwear choice on an oversaturated population, backed by a big snowboard concern and incorporating a rather on-the-nose identifier amounted to long odds facing the Gravis venture from the jump, but was the company’s true crime being too daring? The much-derided Dylan pro model and later loafer drew wide attention but by all accounts made relatively few sales when stacked against the various iterations of the half-dozen vulcanized templates that have domineered shop walls for what seems now like the better part of the last decade, possibly the longest span of time a shoe trend has held sway over a previously fickle subset of trend-hoppers.

In a time of war abroad and economic upheaval at home, have our shoe choices skewed too far toward the safe, familiar and disposable, virtually ensuring that even the likes of PJ Ladd cannot persuade us to spend freely on a technology-forward, expensive signature model? Did Gravis roam too far off the stylistic reservation without a properly tested avalanche transceiver? Or must we make conscious, tribal decisions to periodically embrace outlandish design silhouettes so as to maintain our group ‘edge’?

Rob Dyrdek Bids Against Self In AWS Pursuit, Vexes Merger Arbs

January 14, 2012

As skateboarding’s most-recognized dealmaker, Rob Dyrdek has built his career on the risk of embracing different kinds of risk. A Jackass for the CNBC set, Dyrdek is as comfortable negotiating his homeboys’ contract terms from beneath a Motel 6 hangover as he is nollie frontside nosesliding to fakie or cooly inhaling intoxicants from colorful balloons at a European rave event. Among those who invest their business expense money in gas station trinkets and accept automobiles as payment, Dyrdek’s business sense is high lore, which only added to the shock following his premature exaltation this week that he would take ownership of the hardgoods concern that has employed him since he was a tyke.

Dyrdek surely knows that dealmaking of any kind is a gamble, yet chose to break a cardinal rule of M&A and show his hand to his opponent — the snurfer lord Jake Burton — by announcing not only the advanced stages of their deal talks but vowing to keep the beloved Ohio memory-screener under his financial protection forevermore, implying that profits and losses are but a passing fancy on the wind that take a back seat to his emotional connection to the Alien Workshop. Which is understandable and even worthy of praise from fans such as this weblogging site that bore with some of the at-times questionable decisions re: team and otherwise over the past 10 years, but Dyrdek’s business sense oughtta be reptilian enough at this point not to let something like love enter the picture when you’re trying to bend your trading counterparty over the table.

The deal confuses me. Few details are out there, because maybe they have yet to all be determined. Let’s assume Dyrdek buys DNA Distribution in full from Burton. He gets AWS, Habitat, Reflex bearings, Habitat shoes. I would think Burton keeps Gravis’ IVSK8 effort. For one thing I wonder why Burton would sell after acquiring the AWS business just four years ago. Maybe Burton is looking to trim its balance sheet, as they’re rumored to also be trying to unload a surfboard company also. Decks and wheels are known not to be tremendous moneymakers and the t-shirts/hats/etc business seems as flooded as ever. What I don’t get is how Dyrdek would be able to run it more profitably as a standalone company, since you would assume that under the Burton umbrella AWS could get better deals on materials like shirts and pants and whatnot since Burton already buys a lot of that stuff for its own purposes. Maybe he has plans to integrate his Rogue Status thing there, or realign AWS with DC, by way of Habitat shoes. DC’s new advertising person would be interested in such a move no doubt.

The most likely scenario to me seems like Dyrdek becoming majority-owner with Burton keeping a stake, since that way maybe the two companies could maintain their ties in terms of volume discounts on raw goods, stocking DNA and perhaps other Dyrdek products in Burton stores, some skateboard-world cred for Burton, etc. Long-term I’m not sure whether such a deal’s a positive in terms of DNA, or at least Alien, maintaining the weird and “separate” vibe that made it seem to cut deeper and matter more than your typical deck and urethane purveyour. You’d like to think that Dyrdek the actual dude stands somewhat apart from the MTV and Street League character, and that he knows when to leave shit well enough alone. I think he trusts Carter/Hill/Castrucci.