Scott Lembach Interview: The Muirskate Mission
Muirskate.com has been one of the go to sources for skateboard and longboard gear in our community for sometime. Not just the gear, Muirskate, under the leadership of Scott “El Beasto” Lembach, has been a source of inspiration, stoke, community and events. Scott isn’t just a retailer, he’s a skater and community leader and he really does ride what he sells. Scott’s own core beliefs and persona have been a driving force for the brand and skateboarding as a whole. Scott’s not exactly a “young man”, now in his 40s, but season after season he pushes himself and others to skate more, skate harder and inspire others to get out and do the same. The Muirskate team and the “Muircedes” van have also been inspired by Scott and as an extension of him and the brand has been on the road for years pushing all aspects of participation in communities all across America, and beyond. We had the opportunity to check in with Scott and learn more about him and Muir and want to share their mission with you.
Hey Scott! Thanks for taking time for this. I know you’re a busy guy all year round, but especially with the season in swing and my guess is Muirskate is bumping with all the new product and tons of events. What’s up?!
2016 is already a great year for longboarding!! Longboarders are coming out of the woodwork and polishing their setups and we still have a long season ahead! The popular longboarding brands that we carry are expanding their lineups which is keeping us really busy. Their teams are also on the road spreading the good word and we feel that here! We’ve also done a bit of that ourselves in recent months.
Muir does an awesome Downhill Disco event to kick things off, so it already happened. I had a great time last year. How did it go down this year?
We had a great Disco thanks to some awesome partners. We started planning early this year. My Brother “Larry” flew in from Florida to lend a hand in building the downhill coarse with Jonny Miller of Toy Land and a great supporting crew! These guys are Master Carpenters. Jonny Miller has been skating and building ramps longer than most of us have been alive. The quality feature help make up one of the raddest downhill skateboard cones courses on earth, ever, in my opinion. The 2016 Downhill Disco generated a record attendance. We hosted approximately 350 riders or a total of 500+ Spectators, Vendors, and participants were present. It was incredible and we can’t wait for the 2017 Disco.
Over the past year, Muir took to the road for a Skate the States tour that was pretty rad. You were on the road for all of it? How were you able to stay away from the shop for so long?
I are pretty good at managing fun and work. Having an online business makes the transition from fun to work pretty easy! You won’t even know that I am out bombing hills when you get a response to your email! Well, I guess that is still part of my work. My iPad and Cell Phone keep me close to home when I am on the road!
We also have an efficient staff back at the warehouse. Our Manager Bill has operations in SD dialed. Seth is handling email questions from NYC! We keep our customers happy coast to coast. I guess you could say that we are living a cyber dream!
What was the idea behind Skate the States? Why haul around the country?
Kids have been suggesting that we have events in their communities for years. Skate the States was the answer. Our original plan was to create a campus tour, but a tour like this would not be broad enough. We also wanted to see what’s motiving longboarders these days. We made more than 20 stops along the way! We traveled through 40 states in 40 days. We would like to think that we met our goals of Skate the States. We met so many chill riders along the way! It was quite an experience. I’m still recovering! Haha!
What were some of your favorite stops?
Good one! All of them. It’s really hard to say which was a favorite without disrupting the longboarding world. If the hills that we visited were not the most favorable, the longboarders we skated with made up for it! Those kids at Czech Slide Jam though! These kids shred and know how to have fun!What did you take away from Skating the States? What’s skateboarding look like across America?
Longboarding brings communities together. There does not seem to be much division in our sport. In fact, I can’t think of a sport where the participants are so motivated and proactive and the only benefit is to see the sport grow. We are like a big happy family with an occasional grumpy cousin. For lack of a a better term, longoarding would not be “edgy” without a at least a couple grumpy skaters. I can think of a few sports that are just so frustrating because it is difficult to penetrate as an outsider. So, if you are looking for a sport that you can be accepted into large, proactive group with open arms, give Longboarding a go. Let’s hope that never changes.
If you are looking for a sport that you can be accepted into large, proactive group with open arms, give Longboarding a go!
During our trip around the country, we noticed small cohesive pockets of skaters in some of the downhill communities that we visited. Unlike sliding and freeriding, Downhill creates these small groups of riders. Justifiably, it’s good to know who you skate with on opens roads. That’s how we do it back at home. It just makes sense to skate in small groups when skating fast. Things can get hectic out there and making a wrong decision can cause a lot of havoc and affect everyone around you. So yes, skate with riders that you know. On the other hand, Slide Jams are good for the growing communities! Slide Jams bring communities together! We hope to see more of this in the summer! Lucky for us, we experienced a good mix of slide jam action and downhill skating on the Skate the States Tour.
Any particular states stand out for their roads or vibe?
We found while on tour that most of the communities that we visited had their local gem/s, some more than others though. Arkansas, West Virgina, North Carolina, and Utah were the standout states for the fast hills! Wow, great places to skate! [Editors Note: Scott does it right and gets in touch with locals. We do not recommend you simply venture to new places without trying to connect with the local scene. Check out some tips from NoCoast here.]
You travel a lot and California is regarded as the birth place of skateboarding and still THE place to be in many ways. How does your experience in California compare to skating else where in America or the world and what can the scenes learn from each other?
California is a fun place to be if your are a skateboarder in general. We have countless parks and serious hillage! There are loads of terrain to test you and the talent is top-notch. Honestly, as long as I am fit enough to enjoy riding skateboards, I’ll stay right here in San Diego. In fact, a couple of the fastest hills that I have experienced are right here in our backyard. There is a lot of incredible stuff out there for everyone to explore, don’t get hung up on a specific location.
Will you do another Skate the States?
A follow-up Skate the States is not on the radar at the moment. I don’t think that it is necessary at this point. It seems that longboarding is strong! I just wanted to witness that for myself! If we do trips like this in the future, they will be focused on a specific region. We will set our sites on a region and make our way there!
What’s next for travel plans for you and the Muirskate team?
Our team is off to a very good start this year. Max Ballesteros is currently ranked #1 in the IDF and we have a few good riders close behind him in the ranks. [Congrats on winning Maryhill Max!] I am sure those guys have plans to travels and maintain their rankings. In particular I find the Brazilans are focused and very healthy right now. Expect good things for our Team in 2016! As for me, I’m just having fun living life and I’ll make it to a few races and slide jams. After the Disco, I’ve pack my skate bag and headed for Mount Jefferson and Catalina, then off to Canada, Europe, and hopefully Brazil! It’s gonna be a fun year!
How about that team anyways?! You have some of the best riders in the world repping Muirskate. What fosters such a loyal and connected team?
First of all, you’re right, we have so many good riders. It was never intentional. It just worked out that way! I was always content with the original five: Josh Hunt, Jimmy Riha, Duke Degen, Aj Haiby, and myself. I have a connection with all of them all because they taught me how to go fast. Thanks boys! As the years passed, we’ve added on a lot of new talent: Jasper Ohlson, Byron Essert, Max Ballesteros, Douglas “Dalua” Silva, Jimmy Riha, and Cesar Pechu, to just name a few, and sorry if I missed someone. There are a few others, but they also ebb and flow and some are not very active right now. They’ll come around when they feel the need for speed and road rash, recover from injury etc. I think that being a Skater Owned and Operated company attracts quality people and talented athletes. It’s pretty simple. Onto your next question!
You ride what you sell. And I know it’s true. You do great collaboration with brands you sell as well. Where does that come from? Your Muirskate colab boards are always popular and you even did a truck with Caliber too right? Most recently a Moonshine board?
We take pride in our slogan “We Ride What We Sell”. We also take pride in our Muirskate Exclusives. Collaborations require that we work with our customers and with the brands that we carry. Collaborations are a way for all of us to stay connected. I feel that our customers and brands feel part of something that is different! We’ve had a great response from everyone! It’s a great feeling when we see the boxes land and the products inside. There has not been a colab that has disappointed us.
What else is coming up for 2016 we should be getting stoked for?
Our manager Bill is really focused on bringing more private label products to our Muirskate Exclusives lineup! We want to do a better job at branding Muirskate. If you see something cool come up, Bill most likely had something to do with it. If you have not heard about us, now you know!
There are a lot of grumblings out there for sure, especially with some of the big event numbers dwindling and a reported drop in sales to online knockoffs and copycat or cheap complete “brands”. Really this happens in all industries. How about the state of the longboard industry? Any thoughts on what we could be doing better as a whole?
As I said earlier, Muirskate ventured on the road for 40 days and 14,000 miles covering 40 states this past November. It’s important to keep in mind that this was only 8 months ago. Here is what we found: The kids were ever so grateful for our presence. Longboarders drove many hours to meet us and to participate in the Slide Jams and the events that we held. Locals contacted us in advance and participated in the organization of the events which resulted in record turnouts in the communities that we visited. So where have the kids gone? That’s a good question. Some say that the our target market has graduated high school and can now afford a car because he/she has a job. They can now drive to faster hills. I am certain that some of the younger riders have taken their riding to the next level “Downhill”. They are in the hills skating in small pockets ranging from 5-10 riders. Downhill skateboarding on open roads has its risks and rewards. The kids know it and that’s the draw. They prefer to ride in smaller groups with friends that they can trust and count on in a sticky situation. This is true. I tend to feel the same way. Unfortunately, as we like to keep the numbers tight and familiar, it’s also limiting to bringing on new riders and helping them develop. A local slide [or skate] jam brings in anywhere from 25, upward to 200 participants. Do the math and you will see that creating these jam events is the winner!
The 2016 Downhill Disco generated a record attendance. We hosted approximately 350 riders or a total of 500+ Spectators, Vendors, and participants were present. Keep in mind that the Downhill Disco was only 3 months ago. In short, the kids are still here with us. We need to motivate them by giving them a time and place to skate. That is our job as an industry. If you think that I am wrong, do nothing and you will see where we are in 2017.
There is a solution and that requires that we go back to the fundamentals of a skate company. We must build the stoke in our longboarding communities. We have 4 months of warm weather ahead of us. I am asking each one of our manufacturers and retailers friends to reach out to your communities through a Slide Jam or skate related event for each of their brands. Please keep in mind that races may not be the best event to promote. Not everyone can ride a skateboard at high speeds. Create a more accessible event for everyone in your community. Create a slide jam format for everyone to enjoy! Dancing, Slalom Cones Course, Hardwheel and Soft Wheel Sliding, Longest Slide, Open Format, Kicker Ramp Best Trick, Kicker Ramp Distance, Best Trick, games, etc!
Creating and selling products, in my opinion, is not a contribution to the longboarding industry right now. Building the industry through participation is your genuine contribution.
Creating a jam is simple, but if you need a little guidance, feel free to ask. The rewards are endless! Reap the benefits! Kids will come! The will destroy their cheap knockoffs. They will buy decks! They will buy wheels! They will buy slide gloves! The will buy safety gear! Longboarders with Knockoffs and cheap, low quality product will see your brands. You will convert them. They will upgrade! Talk to them! Explain to them that better products breed better riders! Lead by example!
In summary, I work with well over 100 Manufacturers and Retailers. I propose that each of us give back to the longboarding community through the the means of action rather than production in 2016. I am sure that some of you are saying “But I do give back.” I sponsor people and I then in turn complain about how my riders do nothing to give back to me. Put them to work for you!
I hope everyone will start organizing grassroots events today! Creating and selling products, in my opinion, is not a contribution to the longboarding industry right now. Building the industry through participation is your genuine contribution.
Check out the fliers Uncle Funkies (NYC), Adrenalina, and Muirskate have created for our events. More are on the way. You’ll see!!
Thanks again Scott, any thing we might have missed? Last words?
Thank you to all our friends and fans across the globe! We appreciate the continued support! But enough with the mushy stuff. Go get out and skate!
Please check out MuirSkate.com and support skater owned and operated!