In the world of San Antonio skateboarding, the Ides of March mark more than a warning to Julius Caesar. Louis Beaumier remembers it as the day his brainchild was born out of a run-in with a parking-garage security guard, who admired his homemade board.
“I saw some videos of some guys on longboards and thought it looked fun, but when I went shopping for them, they were expensive,” the 45-year-old says. “I decided I could make my own. Everyone liked to ride my board, and I thought I had something here.”
Inspired in part by the security guard’s compliment, Beaumier meshed the idea of downhill racing — “bombing” — with the homespun intimacy of a garage. Now three-year-old GarageBomb Longboards manufactures custom boards and sells them at a handful of area shops and through its website, garagebomblongboards.com.
Unlike shortboards, which are used for street-style skating on ramps and pipes, longboards generate speed for downhill racing across various surfaces — of which Beaumier proclaims ditches and parking garages his favorites. GarageBomb’s boards come in two sizes, identified by length in inches: the GB44 and GB54.
“They’re a good ride compared to a lot of companies out there, and they’re very affordable,” says Beaumier. “There are not a lot of really big boards out there, but these are very stable and easy to ride.” Designing and building the boards affords him creative opportunities, he says, but it has been pure trial and error. “I didn’t think it would be that hard, and I just started figuring out the methods of making it easier for myself.”
Beaumier begins by cutting the flat plank of the board from a sheet of plywood and finishes each skateboard with a personal design.
“I just like the good response from people,” he says. “I interpret what I think they want their boards to look like, and the custom art is kind of my niche, so the craft is building the board and the art is interpreting it.”
Beaumier began skating in the ’70s, and returned to the hobby later in life after kicking a smoking habit and watching a skating documentary with his son. Now, the two skate constantly.
“We were hooked, seeing all the fun again,” he says. “It brought back memories for me, and it’s been a real bonding experience.”
To date, Beaumier says GarageBomb has sold about 300 boards here and abroad. Though customers range from 8-year-old girls to 300-pound men in their mid-40s, Beaumier points to one constant: the internet.
“I don’t know how people sold anything before the internet,” he says. “The internet has been amazing.”
Customer Patti Hurst, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, met Beaumier on a skateboarding website after deciding to skate for the challenge and level of physical activity. Her GarageBomb board was specifically designed for her height and weight.
“I’m a pretty particular person, and I like things that I buy to work well and do what they’re supposed to be doing,” the Virginia resident said. “I appreciate good design, and I think his skateboards are just fantastic. You look at it straight out of the box, and it’s just awesome.”
Though he often works on the boards solo, Beaumier also collaborates with Keep San Antonio Lame pioneer Aaron Forland. Forland, an accomplished local artist, contributes designs to GarageBomb, and the five-year-old KSAL movement has helped spread word of the business to the skateboarding community.
“It really just comes as necessary,” Forland says of the work. “He doesn’t call me up or ask for a design, but it’s more organic, where I play with an idea. We’re in the early days of working together on projects, but we’re both laid-back, democratic, and open to ideas, so we work well together in that way.”
Unfortunately, the economic downturn isn’t doing DIY skateboard builders any favors, either.
“It’s a tough business to be in; it’s just volume,” Beaumier said. “There are no shops in town that carry longboards because they focus on smaller trickboards. I’m not relying on this as my means of income ... “It’s been paying for itself. I’m not getting rich off of it, but I’m not in the hole, either. As long as it stays fun, I’ll keep doing it.”