What drew you to longboarding in the first place?
It was a continuous process. It all started 1996 when I was 16 years old. I started slalom boarding. Two years later I began to ride street too. Around 2001 I got introduced to downhill longboarding by some friends. We rode in a group of three to five people mostly for ourselves. Since it was before the time of YouTube we developed our own style. Later I rode some freerides like Gioasteka and Bukolik here in Switzerland every year. These events still exist and I only missed one Gioasteka, because of my marriage.
What prompted you to start ROCKET?
In 2009 I got introduced in board building by a German longboard forum (longboardz.de) and Silverfish. There were some really good board builders who showed their boards. I saw them and I needed to try that too. Instead of just clamping some plywood together I wanted to try the real stuff. So my first board was made of birch with a light poplar core, glass and carbon fiber. Building this board got me absolutely hooked. I wanted build more and try some new things. The boards got lighter and more complex. Some were foam cores without any wood – only foam, carbon and polycarbonate bumpers, with a weight of less than 2.2 lbs. After I felt a certain demand for the= boards I’m building I worked around 1.5 years on the first official ROCKET line up. Doing this next to my “real” job was pretty intense but the result was great. With the new presses I developed I was able to bend the wood in some crazy concaves that didn’t exist at that time. Together with my knowledge about composite materials the boards came out light and stiff. At the end of 2013 I officially introduced ROCKET as a brand and started selling the boards.
What’s the market like in Switzerland? Where else have you been able to sell your gear?
Switzerland had a big hype in longboarding in the last two years. Unfortunately some companies started flooding the market with cheap, low quality boards. You could see that happening in whole Europe in the last few years. Fortunately there are always people who are willing to pay a bit more for a quality product. I’ve been able to sell my boards around the globe since the beginning. Thanks to the internet, the world has become a lot smaller and easier to reach as a small company. At the moment Germany and South Korea are my biggest markets outside of Switzerland.
What are some of the key things that make ROCKET different?
I would say there are three things: the materials, the concaves and the philosophy. Materials: All of my boards are made of SFI certified hard rock maple sandwiched between carbon, glass or flax fibers. The kind of fibers, their weave and the grammage [weight] are precisely adapted to the particular purpose of the board. Concaves: With my self-developed pneumatic presses and the CNC-machined molds I’m able to realize some of the most unique 3D concaves on the market. Philosophy: ROCKET Longboards isn’t just another company trying to jump on the hype train. It slowly developed into what it is right now. I started to build boards because I love longboarding. It’s still a one-man company, just with better machines now. All the influences come directly from longboarders like my team riders and friends. In fact it’s the best example for “from longboarders – for longboarders.”
Right now the market seems to be awash in low-cost product, yet there will always be those who would like higher quality. What is your take?
As I said before, I’m glad that there are always people who are willing to pay a bit more for a quality product. Since I produce all the boards myself here in Switzerland I can’t (and I don’t want to) compete with the low-price brands. My goal will always be to produce innovative, high-quality boards that people love to ride. I said many times that my boards are more a piece of sports equipment than only a good-looking accessory.
What gives you the most satisfaction when it comes to creating these decks?
That’s easy – seeing people riding my boards and loving them. If my customers are happy I’m happy too. The feedback I’m getting is really great, and I’m giving my best to make it even better.What’s one misconception about the Swiss that you’d like to address? Switzerland and Sweden are two different countries. Being Swiss is not the same as being Swedish. No, seriously. Some people think Swiss people are boring and narrow-minded. If they would come here and skate with us, I bet they would change their minds.
Any final comments?
I would like to thank all the people who supported ROCKET Longboards and me, especially my parents and my wife, who made this possible.
Thanks to Michael Brooke of Concrete Wave Magazine!
ROCKET Longboards are made in our own workshop in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Innovation is one of our main goals when we develop new shapes and concaves. We only use the best carbon, glass and flax fibers and certified hard rock maple.