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Part 1: The Sacto days
Blockhead was founded in 1985 in a northern California garage by Dave Bergthold and rolled strong for about ten years. During that time many friendships were made, good times were had, careers were launched, momentous ramps were built and lots of great skateboarding went down. Blockhead definitely made it’s mark in the skateboarding world whether it was the original style of Ron Cameron’s artwork, heated sessions on the most famous mini-ramp of all times ‘The Blockhead Ramp’, or the wealth of talented individuals that went on to shape the future of the skateboard industry or excel as professional skateboarders.
After two years of college and an uninspiring internship as an architect Dave decided he wanted to work in skateboarding somehow...the only thing he cared about since he was 10 years old (now 20). The skateboard industry was all but dead at this point and the nearest companies were hundreds of miles away so getting a job at one wasn’t an option. Inspired by the DIY spirit of his grandfather who built his first skateboard, Dave built lots of backyard skateboard ramps and a several skateboards. With unyielding determination and a head full of ideas, Dave thought “why can’t I start my own skateboard company”?
The first year was it was mostly a solo project (with some help from family and friends) operating out of Dave’s parents garage screening boards and tee shirts. The kitchen table was used to design board graphics and ship boxes, the Bergthold’s home phone number was even published in the Thrasher ads with a few rude awakenings in the middle of the night with calls from Japan etc.
The company was founded with about 3 thousand dollars that Dave saved up from being a pizza delivery guy and some school money from mom and dad. Against the advice of almost everyone, Dave spent a good chunk of the money on a full page Thrasher ad instead of settling on a more sensible quarter page. “Nobody takes the companies seriously who don’t do a full page” Dave said.
The gamble paid off and now with young team rider Ron Cameron starting to step up the art game and the addition to Dave’s long time skate buddy Sam Cunningham to the team, things were starting to build momentum and boards were flying out of the garage as quick as they could be made. Collaborations were done on the Notch Nose, Just Another and several other graphics but once Ron inked Sam’s iconic “Evil Eye” graphic Dave, for the most part, had him take over on all the graphics and ads.
In 1986 Dave’s neighbor opened a shop in downtown Roseville called Skates Plus. With a hot tip from them, Blockhead was able to move into the adjoining building which used to be a dentist office. With 10+ rooms in a 1500 sq. foot. building it was less than ideal for running a skateboard company. Moving the operation from the garage only 2-3 rooms were used at first...the largest was the hangout room with a couch and TV and in an all nighter of drinking and wall smashing a mini-ramp was built for hours of late night fun.
Blockhead added new pros Jim Gray and Mark Partain and AM rider Omar Hassan, the new Wild Things wheels were a hit and within no time the Blockhead HQ was busting at the seams. Blockhead now employed a bunch of the local skate rats to help screen and ship, one of these kids let us add on to his existing mini-ramp at his parents house and the first “Blockhead Ramp” was built which included a hip, one corner, and a bank to curb.
Then, in 1988 an envelope showed up in the mail with a “sponsor me” tape (like they did almost daily it seemed). The tape was played, played again, and again in front of increasing crowds of riders, employees and friends. The tape was from a Canadian kid named Rick Howard who was immediately without hesitation put on the team!
Also In 1988 when things were going off, Dave was approached by Tracker Trucks (who sponsored Sam, Jim and Mark) to license Blockhead and move it down to Oceanside. Dave was reluctant to abandon his Nor-Cal roots and family but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try and take Blockhead to the next level. In January 1989 a semi-truck and the Dodge Caravan team transport vehicle were packed up and rolled south (with fingers crossed) towards greener pastures.
Part 2: The SoCal days (coming soon)