By C.J. LOVELACE
The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A former Hagerstown man is returning to his roots, and he’s bringing his growing business with him.
Bustin Industries, a New York-based longboard skateboard company, recently announced plans to expand and locate its warehousing and distribution center in downtown Hagerstown, according to company founder Ryan Daughtridge.
Daughtridge said in a news release last week that the company has signed a lease-to-purchase agreement on the former Maidstone Furniture building at 117 Summit Ave. and will be moving its distribution operations there this month.
Daughtridge said the move will relocate 15 to 20 jobs to Hagerstown, as well as thousands of skateboards and skateboard parts that will ship all around the world.
“We needed more space, and space is one of the most expensive things in New York,” he said. “It allowed us a reason to be here more and … it was like a tenth of the cost, the rent cost alone” compared to New York City.
Daughtridge, 31, who grew up here and moved to New York City in 2003, said the company’s return is geared toward streamlining Bustin’s operations but also to contribute to the rejuvenation efforts of Hagerstown’s downtown core.
The company operates two brands and stores in the Big Apple, Bustin Boards and Longboard Loft NYC. They specialize in a growing segment of the action-sports realm called “longboarding,” a craze that’s rooted in Southern California but has gained popularity worldwide over the past 10 years.
Longboards — different from skateboards, which are used primarily for tricks — are designed more for transportation, downhill racing and some freestyle riding, and are typically larger than skateboards, Daughtridge said.
Over the last nine years, Bustin has gained a following among commuters who have realized the convenience of longboards in the urban landscape, Daughtridge said.
Popularity of longboards in the urban setting has grown into a movement coined “push culture,” he said.
As the company grew, Daughtridge had to move toward establishing a large-scale distribution center for Bustin’s products. After talking it over with his wife, Daughtridge said Hagerstown became an option and he began discussions with the city in late 2011.
“Lots of folks advised me that it was not ideal to have a location situated downtown and so we looked far and wide at buildings overlooking highways and cornfields and parking lots,” he said. “Ultimately, we decided that we could make it work downtown and that we wanted to be a part of the rejuvenation of the downtown corridor.”
Daughtridge credits his brother, Rich, who owns the design firm High Rock Studios on Public Square, as a major influence in his decision to move downtown.
“Whether we’re having morning meetings at The Gourmet Goat, skating to lunch at The Plum, having an after-work beer at Bulls & Bears or throwing an art show at the Bustin warehouse, my hope is that being downtown will allow us to contribute to the fabric of the community and help spark the ongoing movement to rejuvenate our city’s center with other businesses,” he said.
When Bustin moves to Summit Avenue, the company plans to share the first floor of the building with a church, El Minsterio De Fuego Fresco, which has been there for about two years.
Depending on how Hagerstown’s downtown business climate progresses, Daughtridge might be thinking bigger.
Opening a retail shop downtown could be the next step, especially if the city follows through with its proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center project. Bustin’s new building has 8,000 square feet and 20-foot ceilings on its first floor, plenty of space to open a sporting-goods store, Daughtridge said.
“New York City is still the home of Bustin Boards, but we’re excited to get distribution set up in Hagerstown,” he said. “As for a Hagerstown store, time will tell on how the downtown comes alive.”
Daughtridge said the company sold about 150 boards in 2006. Just six years later, Bustin’s sales have grown exponentially, up to 30,000 boards sold in 2012, in addition to other merchandise, he said.
Daughtridge’s love for longboards started after an East Coast beach trip with his girlfriend when he was in his 20s. At that time, longboards were just starting to show up in surf shops and were more costly than Daughtridge could afford. So he decided to make his own.
Starting in his father’s barn near Hagerstown in 2001, Daughtridge built the company from the ground up with his bare hands — literally — with each board he made.
After moving to New York, Daughtridge worked several jobs while running Bustin Boards on the side. Then in 2008, he was able to quit his other jobs and pursue his passion full time.
The company’s current product lineup includes dozens of custom board models, wheels, trucks, bearings, grip tape and apparel, distributed to customers and stores worldwide.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)