…tail-pads at ten bucks a shot!
Yesterday, I mighta mentioned that I’d thrown in to be a part-owner of a devil-themed traction and wax company.
It ain’t gonna make me rich, so far it’s made me a little poorer, but why not take a swing when a ball flies atcha? Read about that here.
Now all the talking about deck grips got me thinking about the best in the biz, the original, the beautiful, Astrodeck. It may surprise you, surprised me, that the world champion John John Florence and world number five Kolohe Andino, who have signature Astrodeck tail-pads, actually…pay… for their grips. Ten bucks a hit. It ain’t retail, sure, but fuck.
When Necro tried to lure Noa Deane into riding for ’em, offering a piece of the company, he said he didn’t want anything but Astrodeck.
So few hours ago I called Astrodeck’s San Clemente, California, bureau to talk about the ringing endorsement of the Champ, Florence, ballet dancer Noa and the sorta contender, Andino.
Who answers the phone? Ms Dibi Fletcher herself, writer, artist, and the matriarch of the famous surf family that includes Herbie the tow-pioneer/artist/traction pioneer, Christian, Nathan, and skate-star Greyson, Christian’s kid, Dibi’s grandkid.
Well, hello, Dibi!
Turns out Dibi, who is almost seventy years old, opens the doors in the morning, answers the phones, works the warehouse, ships the pads, does it all. Ain’t nobody else there but the still cute-as-a-button Dibi.
“Getting it in, honey,” she says, with a fabulous hoot. “I don’t want people’s dysfunctional kids. I’ve already got my own. No one wants to work. You train someone and then they move onto the next thing. What’s in it for me to spend the time and train somebody? It’s easier for me to do everything. I know everything, do everything. If there’s any problem it’s my problem. I don’t have nobody to blame except me and I learn from it. That’s the reality.”
Now what is so cool about Astrodeck, apart from making the best tail-pads money can buy, is the Fletchers never diluted their game by bringing in investors. Always been Herb and his design (his lucrative art, too) and Dibi on the business levers. John John and Kolohe Andino both have Astrodeck models but don’t get paid endorsements. They like, they ride.
“Known ’em since they were kids,” says Dibi, who won’t omment on the ten-bucks-a-pad arrangement.
Dibi, who has this beautiful way of adding “Do you understand?” to most of her declarations, lights up when you talk authenticity and the ins-and-outs of the surf industry.
Does she make money?
“If I was making money do you think I’d be sitting at this fucking desk? You think at my age I’d be out the back shipping pads? The reality is, it’s a very small, niche market. But I still feel that I make the best pads. I have the best surfers in the most critical positions. That’s what I’m interested in doing. Making the best pads. Everyone in my family surfs. Unlike most of the other pad companies, do you understand, they’ve got people in cubicles making different coloured pads. They knock me off. I don’t care about. I don’t give a shit!”
I keep it going because, dude, it’s not because I’m making any fucking money. I keep it going because it’s the right thing to do? No one in their right fucking mind would do that. Do I like selling surf pads? Do you understand? Do I like shipping them? There could be better ways of spending my time. Money? There is NONE! But I’m proud of our place in surf history. It’s important to keep it alive.
Dibi adds, “That’s my story, honey, here I am! I make the best pads in the world, we’re the original pad maker (since 1976), we’ll always have market share as long as I stay authentic. Companies went too big, they have to make their quarterly earnings. If you want big, you have to go and push your brand all over the place. Pretty soon you have no story left because you whitewashed it to death to get your corporate earnings. All the other ones have come and gone and I’m still here. It’s testament to the fact I didn’t try to make it get really big. I didn’t have to accept other people’s money. If you get too big you’ve lost the kernel of what it can be. I can still have sand in surfing. All the big companies have to appeal to the mother of a grammar school kid, do you understand? And I’ve been here before all of ’em. I sold pads to their dads! The best riders in the world in every generation. I mean, that’s something that’s kinda fantastic!”
I ask about my investment.
“Good luck on making any money, honey!”
Suddenly Dibi detonates an explosion of cackles: “Ahhhhhhhahhhahhahhh! Oh that’s funny! Honestly! I have it so lean, do you understand, no employees. I have it so lean and I run Herbie’s art thorough it to keep it going, I keep it going because, dude, it’s not because I’m making any fucking money. I keep it going because it’s the right thing to do? No one in their right fucking mind would do that. Do I like selling surf pads? Do you understand? Do I like shipping them? There could be better ways of spending my time. Money? There is NONE! But I’m proud of our place in surf history. It’s important to keep it alive. It’s the right thing for my kids, for my grandkids. It’s a part of history.”
Any more advice?
“I’ll tell you something. I’ll kick your ass at retail if you come and compete with your brand. I’ll make sure of it. Honey boy, if you don’t learn fast!”
With that, UPS is at the door and Dibi splits to grab the boxes to shop.
“That’s so fucking awesome!” she says. “Hot dog!”