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Views from the Bus: Steve Lake of Sector 9

In this episode of the Views From The Bus Podcast, Bob talks with Steve Lake, the co-founder of Sector 9, a truly legendary brand and a fundamental part of the San Diego lifestyle. Steve shares his background on how he started the brand, and also gives advice to young entrepreneurs who are looking to convert their passion into a business.

The SDSI Podcast has Launched! Views from the Bus features candid conversations between Bob Rief and the innovators within our community; exploring their business and - sometimes personal – journeys, and sharing their learnings along the way. This is a “must-listen-to” series for anyone in the Sport and Active Lifestyle Industry to get some insight from those who have “been there, done that” so that you can learn from their mistakes (without making them yourself!)

Our first episode features Steve Lake who founded Sector 9:

5:57 – How did Sector 9 Happen?: “It started with somebody asking us where we got boards and, you know, I’d finally told some guy that didn’t know that we were making them in our backyard for $25 a piece.”

11:45 – Innovating ways to make Skateboards: “We literally made molds out of concrete, which in hindsight, it’s kind of funny and we took big I-beams and made some rudimentary presses and got hand pump hydraulic cylinders to press concrete into skateboards.”

14:30 – Motivation from naysayers: “We weren’t going to be easily stopped, you know? And if it felt right to me and it felt right to them, then in our minds, that must’ve been right.”

19:00 – Handling finances early on: “As my stepdad would say, I was one of the worst kids he’d ever met in math until they put dollar signs in front of it. Then I became a genius.”

22:20 – Starting in the dotcom era: “We were also one of the first 25,000 websites ever on the world wide web, established in 1999.”

25:00 – Making skateboarding for everybody: “Our company in particular never tried to sell a Sector 9 to skateboarders, from day one, our goal was to sell them to everybody else. In that sense, you know, I guess in our minds, we were somewhat freedom fighters for making skateboarding fun and available to everybody.”

34:00 – Moving from regional to global business: “Moving from a regional operation into a global business was the career opportunity of a lifetime.”

39:10 – Working with your friends: “We were able to separate our friendship, be brutally honest with each other, define some lanes.”

40:50 – The business of relationships: “I realized that we were in the relationship business more so than the skateboard business. Anybody today or even 10 years ago could replicate what we were doing, but it was the relationships that we built along the way that. Really that was the foundation for success.”

46:27 – Success is a product of passion: “I think success is a by-product of passion. You know, you’re not going in on Sunday with a smile on your face and happy to see the people you’re working with.”