When skateboard shops or longboard skaters need to buy boards made in the good ‘ol U.S. of A… and more particularly, the Mitten… where can they go? Why, CR Boardworks in Madison Heights.
The company got its start just a few years ago.
Dave Swantek had taken up longboarding and after using his board for awhile, he decided he wanted something a little different. A Detroit native, he concluded that his affinity for woodworking would best be served by creating his very own longboard.
“When it was done I went to a local skate shop to get trucks and wheels,” he says. “The owner really liked the board and asked if I sold them. From there it pretty much took on a life of its own.”
Swantek started CR Boardworks (CRB) in 2010 and got off to a good start because Michigan longboarders were not only excited to buy local, they wanted custom-shaped boards.
Now in its third year, Swantek runs the company out of its Madison Heights wood shop and takes most of the manufacturing responsibility, with some help from a part time employee and his brother, who sometimes helps with manufacturing technology.
CRB produced approximately 300 longboards last year and is looking tob grow. Their boards have found fans outside of Michigan, selling in shops across the country, in the United Kingdom, and even Brazil, Peru and the Philippines.
The quality of the boards is what sets CRB aside from similar sized longboard companies, Swantek says.
Each board is made from high-grade, homegrown maple wood. Bought from a Michigan-based company, Swantek says, “We use the best products we can to make our boards.”
In addition to the wood, CRB also uses industry standard skate-specific adhesive, individually cold pressing each board. Artistically, they screen print each board by hand, allowing for creativity and high-quality prints. It’s this kind of attention to detail that makes the company’s boards stand out.
Two types of boards are made at CRB: freeride and the more popular downhill. The production process for both is the same, except that they differ in shape and curve. CRB is also in the process of creating an all-terrain skateboard this year to add to their product line.
Riders can choose from the current boards sold on their website or request their own custom shape. One of the most unique designs CRB has done was for Detroit Manufacturing. These boards were shaped and designed like coney dogs.
Some of the boards being produced and sold on CRB’s website were originally custom boards from Michigan longboarders, while others are thought up by Swantek. After he comes up with a design, he makes a small batch of boards so their team of riders can test ride them and after that, tweaks can be made before they are sold to the public.
CRB brand longboards can be purchased online as well as locally at Pigeon Skate Shop in Eastpointe; Action Board Sports in East Lansing; Peoples Skate and Snowboard in Keego Harbor; Dubz Bikes and Boards in Oxford; and soon Alpine Cycles in Port Huron.
Beyond the CRB name, the company also creates boards as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for other companies who then sell them under their own names.
Demand for their boards has been so robust that CRB manufacturing will be moving to a larger building – but will still remain local. “As we grow and expand our plans are to hire this year,” he says. “I want to be able to help the Michigan economy.”
There are no immediate plans to have a storefront for the business, since the boards are already sold out of local stores, but Swantek is considering a factory-outlet type of shop and hopes to make the company name more prominent in the Midwest while expanding into other world markets.
“I am proud to be from Detroit and represent the area/region,” Swantek says. “No matter what the future holds I intend to keep CRB a local and made-in-Michigan company.”
Julia Woehrer is a freelance writer, photographer and social media coordinator. She attended the School of Art and Design at Northern Michigan University where she concentrated in photography and minored in journalism. She volunteers at a local no-kill cat shelter and enjoys spending time with her cats, Bella and Macy.
This story originally appeared in Metromode. Like them on Facebook to stay up to date on all their metro Detroit coverage.