Skateboarding has seen thousands of brands come and go throughout the years. Some were ahead of the time, others had no business starting in the first place. Ever hear of “By the Sword”? Nope, didn’t think so. For 500 brands like that, there’s one Santa Cruz, Independent, or Vans, brands who have withstood the test of time. There are also newer ones who have had great success, such as Real, Spitfire, and Girl Skateboards.
Now, imagine not being an American brand, coming over seas, and staying in business for over 20 years while constantly pushing the talent envelope further and further. This is Flip Skateboards. Aside from sponsoring such legends as Tom Penny and Lance Mountain, they also have a pretty cool team manager who I convinced to do an interview with me. Let me present to you John Nicholson.
SMDM: What is your name, and what do you do?
JN: My name is John Nicholson and I am the social media and team manager for Flip Skateboards.
SMDM: When you say “social media”, what platforms does that actually include?
JN: I run the Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. We are hoping to put a lot of focus on YouTube going forward, but since you can post full blown edits on Insta now, it’s hard to justify doing so on YouTube. I also do Curren Caples social media with most of my focus being on his Facebook and Twitter.
SMDM: How did you come into the TM job at flip? It seems like a very high profile industry job.
JN: Just being at the right place at the right time. My friend Josh Zucker had got the job through us hanging out with Arto at Woodward. He thought he was signing up for more of a photographer/creative director position and he realized it was more of a TM gig. Once that set in, he had me takeover after helping him out during his time at Flip.
SMDM: When you took the TM job, did you know what you were getting into? Has it been an easy ride so far? It doesn’t seem like you are dealing with a rowdy bunch, no Fred Gall in his heyday….(sorry, can’t help to plug Fred Gall footage whenever I can on here)
JN: Oh yeah, for sure. Flip is actually much smaller than people imagine, so I do a lot more than a typical team manager. It’s me and two owners running the whole show, so the line gets blurred up into brand management, and down into the depths of bitch work that most companies would hire an intern, or another poor sap to do. Everyone on our team is very humble and professional. The worst person I have to deal with is myself! Ha ha.
SMDM: Any good Tom Penny stories?
JN: I get asked this one a lot and I have actually never met Tom aside from talking to him on the phone, which is funny because I run his Facebook. The past 2 flip trips he was on were overseas and I had to hold down the fort here.
SMDM: Speaking of Tom Penny….does Flip still run the Magic Mushroom and Cheech and Chong™ decks? I remember owning the Magic Mushroom deck around 1997 or so. Seems like that graphic ran forever.
JN: Yes. Tom has had a pro model in the line since the beginning in 91′ and we actually just re-released the “Toms Friends” deck to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the graphic. We did a cruiser, an 8.25, and a 7.75 on the F-01 shape, which was the first Flip shaper ever produced and was what the original graphic was on 20 years ago.
SMDM: About how many sponsor me requests do you get weekly? Are they more via DM or email?
JN: It’s a solid mixture of both, but more DM’s lately since I decided to include my job title in my bio in an effort to appear more professional.
SMDM: Wow, so kids hunt you down and DM you? Do they realize that Flip has one of the craziest teams talentwise in all of skateboarding? Do any get angry you haven’t turned them pro yet?
JN: Haha. Unfortunately the DM’s that are sent to the actual company account go unread because there are so many that Instagram filters out the ones from people I don’t follow, so I can only see ones sent to my personal account. I’ve had a couple of people get bummed if I’m honest. What I get a kick out of, at the risk of sounding like an egotistical dickhead, is that I post my own skate footage on my Instagram, and kids send stuff that isn’t even close to the shitty footage that I post. If that was the standard, I would be a rider, and not the TM.
SMDM: What goes into picking a rider for a brand like Flip?
JN: Flip is different from a lot of other companies in that the owners, Jeremy and Ian, are still very heavily involved in the day to day operations. Jeremy still hand picks the riders and aside from flowing a few prospects that ended up moving on to other companies, it’s Jeremy’s call. He’s always had an incredible eye for that special something that very few skateboarders have. This is evident in the past legends and current line up of the team, Jeremy was also involved in companies like Hawk clothing, which was a group of super little kids that are all now legends. (Dylan Rieder, David Gonzalez, Tyler Bledsoe, Colin Provost, etc.)
SMDM: I remember Flip used to have these “New Wave” decks, the boards looked like wavy potato chips, and it was supposed to increase the strength of the board. Is Flip doing anything as cutting edge currently as these were at the time? If they are making anything revolutionary, are the riders using them or the standard boards?
JN: The “New Wave” decks were done by Blitz Distribution, and were the brainchild of Jeremy Fox, the owner of Flip. They were also featured on Firm decks at the time. They made the board stronger and slide further, due to the decreased amount of surface area that made contact between board and ledge/rail. Less friction, greater slide. Jeremy is an engineer so he is always thinking of new and inventive ways to improve upon the standard skateboard deck. I’m sure you have heard of the P2 boards?
SMDM: Nope, enlighten me.
JN: The P2 boards are the most recently upgraded boards. A lot of our riders really like them, and if you ever try one, the board doesn’t get soggy as quickly and is for sure twice as strong. The only problem is, some find the decks are a little flatter from the process of inserting the fiberglass inlay, so 85% of the team rides what you see on the wall of your local shop.
SMDM: Who goes through more boards? Lance Mountain or Bob Burnquist?
JN: They are both such skate rats, but Lance seriously skates everyday and since he skates strictly rugged pools these days, I would have to say Lance.
SMDM: Have you ever sponsored from a DM?
JN: Sometimes if someone is already an avid supporter of the brand and they reach out to me via DM, I will try to get them a deck or some sort of hook up to thank them. I’ve just started giving boards to this new top secret Cat and I think I might have DM’ed him to find out his sponsor situation and get his number, but that initial connection was made in person.
SMDM: So, Flip recently left NHS. Care to touch on that?
JN: For the past few years Flip has been basically frozen because of some legal bullshit we’ve been dealing with, unrelated to NHS. This is why we have been pretty under the radar as of late, and we’re limited to basically only the social media content I’ve been out creating with the team and what the team riders are getting with their other sponsors. Most have some pretty big sponsors aside from Flip ( Volcom, Adidas, Cons, Vans, etc..) so they are able to still be out there and stay relevant. Now that the legal trouble is coming to an end, we are able to find a new distribution. Flip is undergoing a revamp, and we are going to be doing a ton of shop signings and demos locally, as well as starting work on a new video to fully showcase our current riders who happen to be some of the best in the world.
SMDM: Will the video be called “Quadruple Sorry”?
JN: No, but people will be able to finally see the new Flip.
SMDM: Hopefully there will be some Tom Penny footage. Aside from sending Tom boards, are there any other perks of your job you can talk about?
JN: I mean the perks are pretty obvious and are the main incentive for a job in the skateboard industry, since every board brand is in a tough spot these days. I’ve gotten to hang out and become good friends with some of the best skateboarders in the world. I got to personally turn both Alec Majerus and Matt Berger pro and plan out their surprise parties. I’ve witnessed some of the most insane tricks ever done on a skateboard in person. I get to travel. I get to play a small roll in the lasting impact that these dudes are going to leave in skateboarding and I get free decks too! What more could a guy want!?