I found this article super interesting because it gives more insight about both Tony Hawk and Andrew Reynolds and how they built their companies known as: Baker Skateboards and Birdhouse Skateboards. As you read further into this article that was written by RideChannel, you find out that they really didn’t know too much about running a business, and that didn’t stop them from doing what they love: skateboarding. With the combination of their passion came help from others who help steered them into the path of becoming a successful business owner.
It’s apparent from the moment Andrew Reynolds pulls into Tony Hawk’s driveway that these two veterans like each other. Hawk flashes a grin as he walks up.
“How’s it going, buddy?”
Andrew hops out, smiling, and they instantly lapse into conversation.
They both stand a few inches over six feet and are unintentionally dressed alike, in grey shirts and blue jeans. They almost look like one another’s stunt doubles, just shooting the shit. It’s been years since they hung out consistently, but their connection and and mutual respect is obvious, with the two consistently citing one another as influences and favorites.
They go back 25 years, to when Hawk was broke and Reynolds was short. In 1992, Hawk had borrowed money to start Birdhouse Projects, which subsequently sponsored the then-14-year-old Floridian. Reynolds turned pro for the brand before leaving in 2000 to start Baker, becoming to his team what Hawk had been to him. Today they live some 100 miles apart, with Reynolds in Los Angeles and Hawk in Encinitas.
Both eagerly agreed to this interview, but scheduling these skateboarding giants wasn’t easy. They steer mini empires, handling duties at multiple companies on top of the standard demands placed on famous skater. But child care was arranged, miles were traveled, and the two friends met in Carlsbad, Calif.
Interviews usually start off cold and take a while to loosen up, but Hawk and Reynolds started talking as soon as they saw each other, so I just turned my recorder on.
Tony Hawk: I used to love going through all the footage that you’d send with your buddies. [After filming a trick, the filmer would shout,] “It just got blurry!”
Andrew Reynolds: I have a hard time remembering a lot from that time back home. I was just focused on skating. I started doing this Facebook thing and this kid I skated with found me. He was making fun of the kids talking in the video, saying how they all went to jail. Now that I look back on it, the whole situation was so weird. I’d spend the night at their house, and they were big guys. Breakfasts had stacks of bacon, and the sister was on a respirator. It was weird, but I just thought, “You guys have a camera and let me stay over night, so I don’t care.”
TH: There’d be shots of you jumping a gap and then a guy pulling down his pants and giving the camera a brown eye. I’d see it and say, “We’re using that. I don’t even care if you made it.”
How did you first hear about Andrew?
TH: Tom Drake had been the G&S team manager. [Writer’s note: Andrew, Willy Santos, and Matt Beach all rode for G&S, a board brand that was faltering.] He’d been let go and was helping us organize Birdhouse, and Andrew sort of came with the package of getting Willy. We went to the am finals and Tom said, “Matt and Andrew are the new kids, for sure.”
AR: Willy said he’d let me know what’s going on. I knew that Tony was doing something with him and Jeremy Klein. I was 14. Tony called one day and said, “We’re doing this thing if you need any boards.”
Willy was a groundbreaking new street skater and doing everything that I wanted to do, and then there was Tony and Jeremy and Ocean [Howell], so I just wanted to go where Willy was going. But my personality as a little kid wasn’t like I’d jump up and down about anything. I just said, “OK, cool,” and kept skating.
What were those early Birdhouse tours like in the early ‘90s?
TH: Six of us in a van hoping to get $500 from a shop for doing a demo so we could eat, get a hotel, and make it to the next stop. Usually all of us stayed in one room and we’d take the beds apart so we could sleep on the box springs too. You got a mattress if you shared, and you could sleep alone if you took the box spring.
AR: I was 15. It was just skate, skate, skate, every day, every demo, and Tony always made sure everything was taken care of. He’s not going to say he’s running low on money to a kid who’s 15. Remember that kid in Tallahassee, Fla. who had all that money?
TH: Oh yeah! He got an inheritance and built a private park in a warehouse that was only for him and his buddies. He paid us to come skate his park.
AR: They were fake gangster kids and we did a demo there.
TH: And he also bought a nightclub in a college town.
AR: Yeah! We went there and it was an empty club with loud music and we ate chicken fingers. It was so weird.
TH: None of it felt like a struggle—it was all just strange and funny. It was just a bummer when certain [team] guys would complain. Andrew was down for anything. We’d open the van door and he’d skate. It got to the point that we’d have to tell him to stop skating, we’re leaving. But that’s all I wanted—somebody who was passionate and wanted to skate and not feel like it was a job all of a sudden because the conditions weren’t perfect.
Andrew, did you learn how to handle being a pro from those tours?
AR: Yeah, but it didn’t dawn on me until way later. I saw Tony with two tweaked ankles that were not small tweaks—you could see how fat they were on both sides—and he was skating this clear fiberglass vert ramp and the two [unsupported] sides of the ramp wobbled. He’d knee slide, and I could see how painful it was for him. He just killed the whole demo and didn’t say a word about it—that’s what you’re supposed to do. You just pick up little things. There are always people complaining on teams, but that’s not the way to go.
Was there a point when you looked at Tony’s career and thought about starting a board company like he had?
AR: Nah. I mean, he’s always been a good role model, but that stuff just happened naturally, like it did with Tony. I had a lot of guys around who were into the same stuff, and some guys on my team will probably pull guys together and start a team, too. It’s just an ongoing cycle, you know?
“One idea behind Baker is that if they’re on the team and there’s something that they want, they can have it.” —Andrew Reynolds
A company is a big deal for a 21-year-old.
AR: I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t know what I’m doing in that area. I skate a lot, but I can’t run a company very well.
Did you talk to Tony about leaving Birdhouse?
AR: They helped get the whole thing going. When they saw that I was serious and had something I was into, they got behind me.
TH: What am I supposed to do—discourage somebody from doing exactly what I did?
The waiter brings the bill and I scoop it to have the publication I’m with pay, but the bill total is zero. The restaurant recognized Tony and killed the bill.
AR: That’s even better than back in the day. I was just telling Jon Dickson how one time at a movie theater, Tony ran to the cashier to make sure everybody was paid for. I pay for all my guys wherever we go—not just on tours, but all the time—and I learned that from Tony.
TH: The irony of people comping stuff is that when you’re finally in a position to afford it, they give it to you for free.
What’s been the weirdest fanning out you’ve experienced?
TH: In New York, a guy said, “I’ve masturbated to you so many times in those Animal Chin videos.”
AR: That’s as far as it goes, right there. I was at Disneyland and a girl who looked like she could have been a sister of a skater took my ID when I bought the tickets. She looked at me and said, “Are you related to Ryan Reynolds?”
I heard about a house party where you went into the wrong room.
AR: Yeah, that guy was definitely a fan. Sometimes kids at demos would invite us to house parties. I went upstairs and [mistakenly went into the host’s bedroom instead of the bathroom], and there were quite a few [Reynolds] posters up there. He was a little bit older. Too old to have that many skate posters.
Back to running a brand. Have your roles in the companies changed over the years?
AR: I suck at it. I don’t know how to run a company at all, seriously. Look: Ads are due today. I don’t have anything. Seriously, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just try to get people who are good at doing that specific part of it so I can skate. I’m better at skating than I am at accounting and art.
TH: That’s exactly what I went through. I tried to be everything at Birdhouse but realized that I’m going to better at making the brand bigger if I just go skate.
AR: A lot of the people on the team are very creative. One idea behind Baker is that if they’re on the team and there’s something that they want, they can have it.
TH: I’ve taken Andrew’s route, but at a much slower pace because I had too many people involved in the company at first. Now, if the team wants it, that’s what they get.
“I tried to be everything at Birdhouse but realized that I’m going to better at making the brand bigger if I just go skate.” —Tony Hawk
Do you guys like the responsibility of heading a brand?
TH: I like being a part of the direction of the type of skating that I enjoy. And I like having skaters gravitate towards that—that was the original thought behind Birdhouse. At the time we started, the marketing of a lot of skate companies was just hating each other and making fun of everybody else. I wanted to do something where we just promoted good skating.
AR: What I like about is that there’s a certain type of skater—a lot of them are a little bit of weirdos—that is attracted to the Baker family, and they have a home. I like that guys like [Bryan] Herman can think, “This is where we fit in.”
Watch Andrew Reynold’s Emerica – Stay Gold Part down below!