North Carroll High School students Collin Gray and Brice Hardesty are two friends who share a passion for skateboarding.
They have turned their love of the activity into a business called Goblin Skate, which earned them a spot as finalists in the second annual Carroll County Public Schools Business Challenge, administered by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. They will compete against nine other finalists from high schools in the county at Winters Mill High School on April 29.
Gray and Hardesty were chosen from five teams that competed at North Carroll High, and they won a $1,000 prize, with money donated from businesses in the community. Second- and third-place winners won $500 each.
Susan Getty, career connections coordinator at the school, said it was their passion, dedication and organization that won Gray and Hardesty first place in the competition.
"This was a stiff competition, which probably helped them," Getty said. "They had to be top-notch."
When they realized that finding skateboarding equipment such as boards, skate decks, wheels and clothing was tough in rural Carroll County, they decided to create an online company to fill that need. They have already created a website where customized skateboarding equipment such as T-shirts, skateboard decks and stickers can be purchased, at goblinskate.com.
"I was thinking to myself — I can't be a pro skateboarder because I'm too old and I started too late, so this is my way of giving back to the skateboarding community," said Gray, a 16-year-old junior, of Hampstead. "Action sports is kind of new as a whole, and we want to see more and more people skateboarding or getting into action sports whether that be skydiving or bicycling."
The friends said they currently sell skateboard decks, which break often and have to be replaced. Gray said the decks are purchased from a supplier in Las Vegas who makes seven-ply, hardrock maple skateboard decks and silk screens images on top of them with graphics they draw.
"We hope to expand into all aspects like wheels, trucks and shoes," Gray said.
Hardesty said they will set themselves apart from the competition by tailoring their products to their customers' needs. For example, if a customer sends in a piece of artwork, they will put it on a T-shirt.
Collin explained that, in skateboard terms, they are "very raw."
"We're very into skateboarding — we want to get back to the roots of skateboarding and get rid of these corporate sponsorships," he said.
Skate decks cost about $14.25 to manufacture, and they sell them for about $30, Hardesty said.
They are taking the $1,000 they won in prize money and putting it back into their business, which they started before the competition.
Gray said his father, Chris Gray, helped them build their website, so their startup costs were low.
Collin Gray said he has learned the importance of planning and being organized by participating in the competition.
"Now that we have a bigger fan base, we have to build structure and keep everything organized," Gray said.
Both Gray and Hardesty take business classes at North Carroll High.
Although there is no business requirement, there is a financial literacy requirement in Maryland for graduation.
A series of five business courses are offered in the county are available in subjects that include accounting, administrative services, business administration and management, marketing and financial services. Other business elective classes include business communications and keyboarding, managing personal finances using Microsoft Excel, business law and an internship class.
"The school system offers so many opportunities for them," Getty said. "The reason I like these students as the winners are they take advantage of opportunities available to them."
Hardesty, a senior, plans to attend Carroll Community College next year. Gray said he also plans to attend Carroll Community College when he graduates.
Both said they plan to continue to building their skateboard business.
"The sky's the limit — we're looking to be the next Vans; we're looking to be the next super manufacturer of skateboards," Gray said.
Part 1 of a 10-part series
April 19: Katie Allen with The Chill-Out
April 20: Lauren Bishop with Damp Out & Co.
April 21: Emma Rogers and Sarah Jacobs with SPAtaneous
April 22: Chintan Jani with ShopNav
April 23: Erica Dobrochowski with Comfort Buddies
April 24: Matthew Bosley with Colossal Waffles
April 25: Angela Himmelberg with Brace Yourself
Today: Collin Gray and Brice Hardesty with Goblin Skate
April 27: Kedric Hart with K-TECH
April 28: Mia Romeo with Sapore de TapasIf you go
If you go
What: Carroll County Public Schools Business Challenge
Where: Winters Mill High School, 560 Gorsuch Road, Westminster
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29
Cost: Tickets for Carroll County teachers and students are $5 in advance, $8 at the door. Tickets for non-Carroll County teachers and students are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
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