Skateboarder rides into business world
Ronnie Creager, wearing a black, bent-billed ball cap, takes a seat on a stepstool inside his modest warehouse – a detached two-car garage tucked away on his property in Placentia.
Surrounding Creager, who is sipping decaf coffee and coughing sporadically – rest cardboard boxes, identified by a sequence of numbers. Some are stacked two, three high. Handfuls are open, revealing bevies of packaged white insoles – his signature line.
“I’ve wanted to do a company forever,” admits the 39-year-old. “I’ve been a sponsored skater my whole life … and I always wanted to be my own boss and do my own thing.
“I never really knew what or how to, though.”
Creager has been a professional skateboarder since turning 18. He skated long before that, of course, while growing up in Orange.
“I didn’t think that I deserved it, being pro,” says Creager, who began his career with Foundation Skateboards. “You had to be good, and I couldn’t keep up with all the people that I saw in my head as pro; this elite group of skaters.”
To Creager’s right sits a 4-foot-high sticker machine. It cost nearly $5,000.
“This is the warehouse,” Creager says. “I’m the shipping manager, the customer service, the public relations; this is where I come out to ship everything out.”
Once, it was all about skateboarding. In one contest alone, long ago, he made $20,000. Now, skateboarding is his job, although a more traditional one. Etcetera is Creager, the promoter, and friend Marty Shadoan, the designer. The 2-year-old company is grossing $10,000 a month.
“I want to get Etcetera as big as I can,” Creager says. “I’ll skateboard my whole life, until I can’t anymore, but I want to have a desk job when my career is over.”
He has skated since he was 3, through El Modena High and Richland Continuation High in Orange, where he earned his diploma.
“I didn’t ditch school all the time, but skating was what I wanted to be doing,” Creager says. “I was just going to school because I had to. … All I wanted to do was skate. I’d skate to school, and when school got out I was out on my board, out with friends, skating, trying tricks.”
Creager, an expectant father and fiancée, gets up to rummage around his warehouse in search of the seven different skateboarding products Etcetera sells. The biggest sellers are insoles, which skaters slip into their shoes to protect their vulnerable arches. His signature insole lists at $21.95.
“We’re just trying to make stuff that all these companies in skateboarding haven’t touched,” Creager said. “We jumped on it because we knew what people needed. … All the stuff we make is for problems that I’ve seen in skateboarding.”
Creager – these days sponsored by Blind Skateboards along with a host of other clothing sponsors – still remembers seeing his first personalized board on Foundation – a fun rendition of the Trix rabbit eating a bowl of Trix with dead bodies sprawled about in the background.
Its significance resonated.
“It was a weird feeling,” he admitted. “I was making money, I had my name on a board, and I had my name on wheels, too. … It took a few years for it (being a professional) to soak in, and it still feels weird.”
A rainy Friday threatens Creager’s ability to skate. The pitter-patter trickles on the undersized halfpipe that sits in his back yard. He’ll find a place to skate eventually. It’s his responsibility to do so.
“Skateboarding is a seven-day job,” said Creager, a contributor to the popular skateboarding website The Berrics. “Right now, I’m just trying to balance everything out with this company and making my sponsors happy.”
Creager, who still tussles with the fear of injuring himself skateboarding, has meetings next week with successful distributors to discuss Etcetera. It’s difficult to sit on the phone all day calling shops when he needs to be out skating. He has become an entrepreneur.
Chances are he’ll find the right balance, like he has his entire life.
“We want to stay in the skateboarding industry, because that’s all we know,” he said. “It’s been a building process. We know what we want to make, and that we make the best stuff we can.”
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