Interview with the inspiring David Boortz of Leeker Skateboards

I came across Lekker Skateboards by chance, and although I’m not a skateboarder I decided to find out more about the company purely because I loved the unique, original look of their hand crafted wooden decks. It wasn’t until I learnt about the inspiring journey of David Boortz of Lekker Skateboards that I knew I really wanted to share his story with others.

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When did you first get into skateboarding?
I have been skateboarding since I got my first board when I was about 10 years old.

What do you love about skateboarding?
Skateboarding is simple.  I don’t mean it is easy, but it is simple.  It can be done almost anywhere, and only requires one piece of equipment – your board.

What are some of the best spots / places / locations you have skateboarded?
The best spots are the ones that you don’t want to leave.  Lately I have been skating late at night through the streets of San Francisco – often listening to great jazz.  It may sound odd, but the peaceful absence of the San Francisco mayhem and cool summer air makes for near perfect conditions to carve some lines.

Lekker Skateboards was born when you were still in high school.  Tell me about it. 
I was not the most technically skilled skater in high school, so I would always go for the big tricks to hold my own with the group.  Large stairs, ledges, and sometimes even rooftops meant I broke a lot of otherwise perfectly good decks.  My dad, who is a great woodworker, really didn’t see the construction of a skate deck as that challenging.  He thought that if we made our own decks, I would stay busy and he would buy fewer boards.  So he put me to work making a two-part skateboard press.  It involved me hand-chiseling a solid piece of wood almost five inches thick.  Then we form-fit a top piece and perfectly mated it with some fiberglass resin.  Set in a custom steel frame, we use car jacks to press seven-layer hard rock maple we ordered from a distant veneer supplier.  We made dozens of decks, and sponsored the top skaters at our high school.  We set up a tour of a top-brand manufacturer, and not to our surprise our construction process was nearly identical to theirs – minus the fact they pumped out roughly 100 boards per day working around the clock.  We were on our way.

Why did Lekker Skateboards unofficially disband during high school? 
Although we loved making boards, the formula for it being our life was not quite right.  By the end of high school, I had become obsessed with physics, Adam with art, and Travis with firefighting.  So we all went to college to pursue out second passions.  Lekker disbanded, but our friendships remained. Throughout college our skating style changed and we still got together to make the first cruiser decks.  I think pausing on Lekker was absolutely necessary.  The work ethic and confidence we gained in high school were important, but more so were the skills we learned in college.  We always knew Lekker would be reborn, but it needed to be with a twist that fit who we had become.

Once you graduated you became and engineer for a number of years.  During this time in the back of your mind did you still think about Lekker Skateboards? 
Lekker never left my thoughts.  Since those days in high school I began acquiring my own tools, bought a house, and always had wood projects going in the garage.  I knew that Lekker would return, and when we all graduated, the time came.  Having a passion project is always about being proud of the product.  We put so much work in the boards; I considered it a huge success regardless of sales or exposure.  The pure fact that we had created a mature product with intent, made it successful in my mind.

When and how was Lekker Skateboard reborn? 
It is hard to put a moment on when Lekker was officially reborn.  I would say it was when Adam asked me to make a ridable replica of a vintage board from the ‘60s.  When we both saw the finished product we thought, “Oh this is the new Lekker.” That time was my second year in college.  So by the time I graduated in 2006, I had made many cruiser style boards for friends and family.  It defined my new style, and that was Lekker reborn.

What has been the hardest part of the Lekker Skateboard journey?
It is always hard to put time and effort in something that will be judged by outsiders.  I see each Lekker board I make as more than just a skateboard.  Why I pick certain designs, why we choose shapes, what defines the patter – these are all very thoughtful decisions that make it more of a piece of wood art than a skateboard.  So when people say, “I can buy the same thing for $50,” I worry that I am not adequately emphasizing my point.  I don’t want to make a more expensive replacement for your cheap skateboard; I want to offer you an opportunity to participate in my purpose.

What has been your biggest achievement to date with Lekker Skateboards and what are you most proud of?
When we had our launch of the first official Lekker edition, Central Coast Classic, I felt like I had a proper business.  The website was so professional, and the boards looked amazing.  Never had I offered the boards in such an official capacity.  When the clock got to zero and the boards went live, we started selling instantly.  It felt great.

What makes your boards so unique? 
There is not much left in the world today that is truly handmade.  It is understandable of course, but not excusable.  We make our boards by hand.  We cut, plane, glue, sand, and finish all the boards in a workshop in beautiful California.  I have had a very hard time finding anyone else that offers the artistic inspired designs, with the quality of hardware, with the same consistency as Lekker.

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Where to next for Lekker Skateboards?
We are working on a number of collaborations.  There are so many businesses in skateboarding and surfing that have inspired us, we would like to magnify our impact and leverage greater support.  As always, we have a few charitable secrets and long-term dreams you will hear about coming up.

What’s your dream for Lekker Skateboards?
I want Lekker Skateboards to reach a substantial point of sustainability.  I want the boards to remain the current quality, and the business to grow to the point that we can be the help to smaller business that started just like us.

If you want a one of the kind skateboard make sure you check out http://lekkerskateboards.com/ And if you are a fan of Zac Efron make sure you check out the Central Coast Classic line. David and Zac worked on the entire line together. All of the boards were handmade and signed by them both. Something tells me that this is just the beginning for Lekker Skateboards, watch this space!

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Make sure you check out this awesome video featuring David Boortz and Zac Efron on their journey of creating the Lekker Skateboard Central Coast Classic line.

I have got a lot of exciting interviews lined up so make sure you subscribe (scroll right down to the bottom of this page) to receive a notification when the next blog post is up. xxxB

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