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Pipe Dream Sk8 Co.: Much More Than a Pipe Dream

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The story behind Pipe Dream Sk8 Co., like many others, begins by chance. “It was in 2020, during the pandemic, and I was bored out of my mind,” said Aaron Sass, who runs the company out of his home’s garage in Lodi. A friend of his was getting rid of some woodworking tools, and although he had no experience in woodworking himself, he decided to see what he could do with them. It turned out to be a life-changing experiment.

“When I was thinking about what to build, the first thing that came to mind was skateboarding, so I figured I’d just build a longboard. It turned out not so great,” he recalled with a laugh. “It was pretty ugly. But I learned a lot with it.”

He found a place in Stockton called MacBeath Hardwood that sold different kinds of wood, and he went there to learn even more. Then he made his first real longboard, and after putting pictures of it on social media, found himself receiving multiple requests to make more. Soon, his pandemic hobby had become a business venture, and his reach had already gone beyond the Central Valley.
One of the many people who had their interest piqued by Aaron’s boards was none other than Wes Humpston, a man who is widely considered to be the pioneer of skateboard art. His history goes all the way back to the early legends of skateboarding, the Santa Monica and Venice Z-Boys of the 1970s who paved the way for the Bones Brigade skateboarding team that Aaron grew up admiring; skateboarding legend Tony Hawk was a member. Today, Wes still makes art for the decks of boards under his own company, Bulldog Skates. And now, Aaron is designing boards for Wes.

“I nearly fell out of my seat when he contacted me on social media,” recalled Aaron. “He asked if I could build him some blank boards, using just maple, that he could put some art on.” Wes sent some templates for Aaron, and they included a wedge tail. “I had never done a design with a wedge tail before, but I figured it out and now he’s ordered 11 boards from me.”

But you don’t have to be a Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductee like Wes to order a custom board from Aaron. Nor do you have to be an expert at building, although Aaron likes the process of laying out materials and showing people how they can design their own boards.

“When I first started, I just made a bunch of boards hoping people would be like, ‘I’ll take that one,’” he said. But people were more interested in something customized. “There’s just something about the ability to design your own board. And it becomes more of partnership than a customer and builder relationship.”

So, what exactly does a custom board mean? You start by choosing a particular wood; Aaron uses 12 types. There are domestic woods such as dark brown walnut, the light-colored but extremely sturdy maple, and woods from around the world such as purpleheart, which hails from South America and has a hue that lives up to its name. Then, you get to the trucks, the hardware underneath the board that holds the wheels on; both the trucks and wheels can come in different colors. And to make things extra special, Aaron has a laser engraver, which gives you the option to have something engraved such as a name, a logo or a quote.

The production process typically takes about a week, although at a busy time like Christmas, it can take longer. And it’s become kind of a family business. “My wife has been very patient,” Aaron said, and he also thanks her for coming up with the name for the business: “I was talking to her, trying to figure out how the company would look, and I was getting kind of negative about it, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just a pipe dream anyway,’ and she was like, ‘I think that would be a really good name.’” His kids also have fun working on boards with him.

“I have an amazing life,” said Aaron. “And this business is just a different layer that makes things really exciting.”