Rodney Torres starts Torro Skateboards
Many skaters have claimed NYC as their home but very few that have made it in The Big Apple are actually from there. By the same token, many New York skaters haven't had a great deal of success in chasing the skate dream in California. Queens native Rodney Torres can testify to both counts. He has been "almost pro" a number of times, had a quick stint as a pro for Arcade and recently as a member of Zoo York's Master's Division. But as of this week, Rodney 'The Bull' Torres has thrown his hat into the ring with his own brand, Torro Skateboards. His goal? Simple. Give New York City kids a chance that they might not otherwise get if they didn't move west, while also living out his childhood dream of starting his own brand.
ESPN.com: What are you thinking starting a board company in this economy?
Torres: It's now or never and it's better late than never. I know it's a tough time but this is something I always wanted to do and that I feel that I need to do. Skateboarding has been my life forever so bad economy or not, this is something that I always wanted to do. I'm excited for what's to come and excited to put TORRO out there.
What are you trying to accomplish with the brand? What's going to separate you from other board brands?
This is, in my opinion, the real New York company. Everyone from the owners to the team and everyone working behind the scenes to make Torro happen, are all New York natives. This is, in my opinion, the real New York company.
Why is it always that guys from New Jersey always want to start New York brands?
Ha. I don't know. I think it's cool. It's like they say: "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."
But why not start brands like 'Zoo Jersey' or '5 Counties'?
I don't know, but those guys definitely paved the way in New York before them. Much respect. I feel like talent in New York is really undervalued, even myself. I think Torro is a good opportunity to shed some light on a lot of kids that have been in the mix forever that haven't received the recognition that they should.
But wouldn't you agree that all the best guys ever in New York City have always been from Jersey?
Ha! Starting with you? No. To be honest, a lot of hidden gems in New York come from Long Island, The Bronx, Brooklyn and all over the five boroughs. There's been so much talent that didn't get that chance they deserved and that's where I'm coming in. I feel like that's what happened for me.
Aside from yourself, who would you say the biggest missed opportunity in New York skate history would be?
There's a lot of people, so many names I can think of but I'm going to say two names that I thing were amazing: Mike Wright and Kyle James. Kyle was someone that would kill the Brooklyn Banks in Timberland boots. I don't know what he's doing now. Mike Wright is a street vendor that makes his own t-shirts and flip DVDs. But the names go on and on. There are so many people in New York that should've but didn't. That's where I'm coming from. But I'm trying to make this a more universal thing where it's not just people in N.Y., but also shedding light on the undervalued talent everywhere.
There are so many people in New York that should've but didn't.
Are you still pro for Zoo York? Do you have two different pro models out?
No. As you know, riding for Zoo and having my own brand would be a conflict of interest, so we mutually parted ways. My time with Zoo was good, I appreciate my time there but it was time to do my own thing. As a kid, I wanted to ride for them but the time was never right so I was happy to be on for the time that I was.
Can I give you some business advice?
Your Zoo York Masters Deck was 7.6" wide. If you want to sell decks, there's no reason to make anything under 8" wide.
Yeah, I know! I switched to 8" over the summer, so Torro has an 8" board out now. But, we also have a 7.75" board for people who like to ride a little bit smaller boards.