Founded in 1973 by Richard Novak, Doug Haut, and Jay Shuirman, NHS, Inc. has grown into a veritable empire in skateboarding, consisting of a wide variety of brands, including Independent Truck Company, Flip Skateboards, Krux Trucks, Ricta Wheels, Mob Grip, Nor Cal Clothing, OJ Wheels, Creature Skateboards, Santa Cruz Skateboards, Santa Cruz Surfboards, Santa Cruz Snowboards, Bullet Skateboards & Safety Gear, Skateboarding Is Not A Crime, Banana Board, Gold Cup, Road Rider, and strangenotes.com.
The story of NHS can be traced back to 1973 when Novak, Haut, and Shuirman began selling fiberglass raw materials to surfboard shops, boat makers, and race car/tomato carrier fairing manufacturers. Burned by a hopeful client who had placed a large order of pultruded fiberglass sheet material, the business partners went back and reclaimed their scrap—vigilante style.
At the same time, a friend of theirs, Jimmy Hoffman, was living in Hawaii. While visiting Hoffman on a surf trip, they were serendipitously approached by McCully Bicycle & Sporting Goods in Honolulu to make and sell skateboards. Since the friends were already making surfboard fins, it was easy enough to make some skateboard decks from all the leftover fiberglass material they reclaimed, and so they went on to produce 500 skateboards with loose ball bearings, urethane roller-skate wheels, and roller-skate trucks. The initial order sold out immediately, which led to another batch of 500 boards that sold out instantly as well. Literally overnight they were in business.
A year later, in late 1974, a man named Tony Roderick came into Novak and crew’s surf shop with a revolutionary idea of blending a precision bearing—used in copy machines—with a urethane wheel. They helped Roderick tweak it to work, and thus spawned the legendary Road Rider Wheel, one of the most innovative skateboard products ever invented.
The mid-’70s marked some of skateboarding’s most game-changing products ever, and for the first time, it seemed as if a legitimate industry could be born. Along with the Road Rider, Ron Bennett developed the Bennett Truck while G&S had the Fiberflex board. Now with the main three components needed for a proper, cutting-edge skateboard, the respective inventors of each bumped into one another at the Hang Ten contest in LA in 1975 and set out right then and there to create a legitimate skateboard industry that wouldn’t rely on anyone but themselves. With the intention of supporting pro riders, promoting skateboarding, and advancing product technology, the group of Richard Novak, Bill Bahne, Jay Shuirman, Brian Logan, Dave McIntyre, Dave Dominy, Paul Sims, Ron Bennett, and a couple staff members from Skateboarder magazine came together to make sure that skateboarding would from then on have the support it needed to survive and flip its reputation of being a passing fad in popular culture.
Fast-forward to today and NHS is regarded as one of the most influential brands in skateboarding. Celebrating their 40th year, Novak and company are committed to maintaining their lifelong ethos of innovating and having fun. Here’s to 40 more!