John, your name on the central west coast of Florida is as big as they come in skateboarding. You are not only known for your skating, but your continued contribution to the promotion of skateboarding through contests and support of local skaters. Your skate shops have stood the test of time and have outlasted many, many other shops. Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine congratulates you on your current anniversary! Well done!
John, you didn’t always skateboard, when was it that you picked up a skateboard and rode one for the first time?
When I was thirteen years old my sisters’ boyfriend bought me a remote control helicopter but it burst into flames within the first five seconds! We went back to return it and I walked by an orange Nash Executioner deck which caught my eye, I asked if I could get that instead and it was a wrap.
Where you skating for transportation or just fun in the beginning?
I saw Mike Nutter at Astro skate one night, he was skating a four foot mini ramp that was inside of a wire cage while I was speed skating. After I saw him skating was the time I went to trade in the broken helicopter, so watching Mike got me juiced up so I didn’t waste any time trying to jump ramps and doing tricks.
What attracted you to skating street over tranny and who were those skaters that inspired you early on?
I looked up to Natas Kapas and he was a street skater and of course Matt Hensley, Ron Allen, Tommy Guerrero, Mike Dare, and I was inspired by Mike Dare, Shannon May, Guy Mariano, and Armando Bajaras.
When and where did you enter your first contests?
My first contest was at a local skate shop called “Suits & Sales” in Palm Harbor, Florida off of Alt 19 in 1984.
Which skater was the first to blow your mind after watching their skating?
At that same “Suits & Sales” contest, George Daher ollied on to a picnic table which to us was unbelievable and also his brother Mike Daher was there riding for G&S absolutely killing it, so those two dudes were the shit in our area.
During this time, how many decks were you going through monthly?
A deck a month for me was standard. Sometimes less, sometimes more.
Were your folks footing the bill for these decks or did you pay for them yourself?
I worked for my dad’s construction company cleaning the trucks part time so I would buy all my decks, of course utilizing Christmas and birthdays to get some more from my parents on the side!
Who was your first sponsor?
First sponsor was Exile, a small company out of Valdosta, Georgia owned by Erick Stuck.
Did getting sponsored give you any feeling of relief?
Filming for my 1281 part got me really motivated at the time to just try my best and go for broke!
At what point did you make the decision to turn PRO?
I then got on Schmitt Stix which turned into New Deal and I just tried to put out a good video part and hope that would turn me pro. It was my 1281 video that I think finally did it! I had a blast filming for that one.
What do you consider the high point of your skating career?
92-96 was my prime, for sure.
What’s the total number of board model graphic designs have you had?
Day-um! Thirty models! Which skaters did you skate with the most?
I got to travel and skate a lot with so many rad people in my life thanks to New Deal, Paul Schmitt, Steve Douglas, and Andy Howell! I wouldn’t have been able to travel the world without any of those dudes, so much love and respect goes out to them for giving me the opportunity to meet amazing people throughout the world that I was able to skate with in my career, too many to name.
Did you ever spend time skating tranny?
I like to skate tranny but it always kind of kicked my ass, especially vert! I am a street skater at heart, but you’ll find me getting down on a mini ramp.
Do you have any previously secret skate spots that you’d care to share now?
The only secret spot I have to offer, is my OG driveway.
How scary was it for you when you opened your first skate shop?
So, I opened the shop in October 1997 with just decks, wheels, and trucks; no shoes or clothing. Everyone in the area thought I was crazy because I was the first shop to not carry skim boards, surf boards, swim wear, rollerblades and all that. I was still riding for Torque, Thomas Taylors company that he was running out of his shop stratosphere and I was always hanging out there so I looked to him as the godfather, along with hanging around FTC in San Fran. So as the level of skateboarding was progressing all over the world I had to figure something out so I went for it and started up the shop in 97. Respect to Thomas Taylor!
Why do you think your skate shop has out lasted so many others?
We have been running on pure love and support from the community and of course awesome employees at the shop that just shred! Got to thank the community for long lasting support through the years!!
How can people purchase from your skate shop if they don’t live on the central west coast of Florida?
We have an online store open 24 hours 7 days a week at westsideskateshop.com
Any last words, shout outs, special thanks, or skate advice for those young skaters?
I have to give a shout out to Paul Schmitt, Andy Howell, Thomas Taylor, my wife and kids, Mom and Dad, the employees at the shop, Erick Stuck, Don Brown, and of course the skateboarding community that continues to support what we are about. And that is the pure love of skateboarding. Also, every and all the people in the skate industry!