Soledaddy Longboards owner handcrafts his unique skateboards at the Grand Canyon.
Thinking about surfing in Northern Arizona may sound a bit unusual, but according to outdoor recreationist Nicolas Sutherland, riding his Soledaddy Longboard here “is the closest you can get to riding the ocean waves.”
“I heard about Soledaddy Longboards at Aspen Sports,” said Sutherland. “The board is handmade, beautiful and rides like a dream, and I love the retro look, so I knew I had to give them a try. It’s so much fun carving down hills with its flexible deck and extra-long shape. I’ll probably buy another one soon.”
Crafted in his garage at the South Rim Grand Canyon Village, Soledaddy Longboards owner Scott Rommel, who works for Grand Canyon National Park in water utilities, has sold more than 50 boards since last August. His tagline is “Everybody wants one.”
“Aspen Sports has been invaluable to my business,” said Rommel. “The response from customers has been incredible. Last August, they sold out in a couple weeks. I had to resupply the store to keep up with the demand.”
“The Soledaddy Longboards are selling extremely well,” said Aspen Sports Skateboarding Manager Jorge Doniz, who has been skating for more than 15 years. “People like them because of their unique Southwest features and amazing ride. It’s hard to get a flex on a board but with Soledaddys, you can go high speeds and maintain control. It helps the rider enjoy the board more. I just bought a new board and I’m real excited about it.”
Born and raised in San Diego, Rommel moved to the Grand Canyon 17 years ago. His dad was a surfer and carpenter and built Rommel a skateboard when he was 7 years old. “In the 1990s, I started constructing skateboards and sold them in a couple shops in San Diego as well as the swap meet for a few years. I believe I am the first skateboard designer to build skateboards with a what I call a ‘double swallowtail.’”
Rommel says his inspiration for the look and style of his boards come from his love for old cars. “I love classic cars from the 1950s and 1960s – it’s such a great American art form. The detail and quality they show through their work is inspiring. Classic car designs have subliminally seeped into my designs.”
The initial restart of Soledaddy Longboards began last year when Rommel went back home to San Diego to visit his parents. “I found a couple old planks in the garage and my son saw them and said I should start making them again. So, I picked up a hobby from 25 years ago,” said Rommel.
Using birch laminate that he purchases from Spellman Hardwoods in Flagstaff, the Soledaddy Longboards are a half-inch thick and up to 60 inches long, inlaid with alder hardwood. “Birch laminate has more flex and gives great suspension, like a luxury car,” explained Rommel. A recent longboard features Monument Valley-themed artwork.
Owner of The Pizza Guy, Mike Williams, who collects skateboards, has a Soledaddy original that Rommel made for him. “It is a really cool board with red inlay with my logo.”
Eventually, Rommel says he hopes to have a small workshop and a couple of employees. “That would be so cool, but right now it’s just me, my garage and backyard, and that’s fine because I’m having fun. I love what I to do and it’s very satisfying work.”
My superpower is:
Focus. I can latch on to an idea or vision and go for it until I finish it. This helps a lot in board making. I’m also good at planning, taking into consideration many things and putting them all together to formulate a course of action.
Best advice I’ve ever received:
The best business advice I’ve gotten is from my multimedia consultant, graphic artist and somewhat of a silent partner, Elise Burnette, who tells me to “stay the course” and “stick to your guns.”
A skill I’d like to learn:
Computer graphic design. It would be great to create digital artwork that I could turn into decals for my boards. Right now, I use all of my time to actually produce the boards.
My role model is:
I admire those people who stick to their beliefs no matter what. That takes a lot of courage. It could be Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thunberg, or it could be characters in films like those played by John Wayne or Clint Eastwood’s character in “Unforgiven.”
My favorite travel destination is:
The eastern Sierra Mountains, up in the high country, the John Muir Wilderness. It’s so beautiful – crystal clear creeks, streams and lakes full of wild trout. That always draws me back. That’s what I think heaven would look like to me. FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN
For more information about Soledaddy Longboards, visit soledaddylongboards.com or call 928-640-0607.