I grew up skating Del Mar Skate Ranch. Starting in 1979-80. As I got more into it I started traveling and taking skate pictures. Got sponsored by Gullwing trucks and Sims skateboards. Ended up working at TWS as staff photog and writer for a few years. Traveled more and met tons of skateboarders all over the US and Europe. Friends, brothers. That was the 80's. Great times. I'm still in touch with many friends from this era.
In 1989 I was done with TWS and riding for Canada's Skull Skates. Steve Rocco from Sims had started World Industries in 1987 and was taking over skateboarding with street riding. Vert was over. I knew Steve and wanted to ride for him. I liked what he was doing. He said no. But he said he'd help me start a company. I really didn't want to. Just wanted to ride for him. I had no clue how or really even any desire to start a company. Taxes, insurance, payroll, employees, accounting, computers... Yikes! Steve said it was easy. You just make some letterhead (paper and envelopes) and you have a company. I told him I would have to think about it. Steve was revolutionizing skateboarding and I wanted to be a part of that so I told Steve yes and made some letterhead. I spent two years working with Steve at World Industries in El Segundo. I would drive there once or twice a week. It was miserable. I was still focused on vert skating and Steve was blowing up with the street stuff. And my stuff looked like crap. And Steve was too busy to help me. I decided to can the entire team and get a street team going. I told myself I'd do one more video, a street video, with my new street team including the amazing Joshua Zues Beagle. And if things turned around, great. But if nothing happened I'd ask Steve if I could take Foundation to San Diego to do on my own. I would then decide if I wanted to continue with it at all. The Magic F came out and sales didn't really change (I had to beg Steve for checks to live on). I went to Steve and asked him if I could do Foundation on my own. He said sure. He gave me a shop list, had his shippers quickly fill my Chevy Sprint up with remaining Foundation stock (not much), and told me to give him a call if I needed help as he closed the door and locked it. Thanks Steve!
I then proceeded to go home and begin the most miserable two years of my life. I built my bed on stilts and stored the little inventory I had under there. I built a desk out of a door. I lived with a bunch of surfer dudes in Del Mar. In the mornings everyone would wake up and do bong loads sans myself. I'd clamber out of bed and start calling from the shop list Steve gave me. "Hey this is Tod Swank from Foundation Skateboards. Do you need any product?" Shop dude: "Who are you? What is this? Is this a crank call?" Click... I don't know how I survived this.
Somewhere in there something happened and somehow we grew. Taxes, insurance, payroll, employees, accounting, computers... It all came. We went through an IRS tax audit a few years later. We got flagged because we paid some big taxes in the most recent years and they wanted to know why we didn't pay taxes on the earlier years. That was easy. Because we didn't make any money those first years. It's will be 28 years this June of 2017. Pretty trippy. Time flies. We have had many kick ass team riders and employees over the years including now. Big props to you all. And high five to all our fans and supporters out there. Could not be here without you.
When you're at the bottom at least you know which way is up.
Keep on rolling!