Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 | 2 a.m.
In the lot of a nearly empty office park in the southwest valley, a blue sedan sits parked with one of its tires on top of a skateboard. The skateboard's deck has been severely bowed by the weight of the vehicle but has not broken.
When the car is moved after about 20 minutes, the deck snaps back to look the same as it did before undergoing the impromptu pressure test.
"You just can't do that with many skateboards," says the car's owner, Clinton Anderson.
Anderson, 32, is one of three partners in a new, Las Vegas-based venture that has created what it calls "the world's strongest skateboard" — one with a deck made of wood strengthened with layers of carbon fiber.
Anderson and his partners say they have perfected their design and are now speeding up manufacturing as they prepare to begin selling their products — marketed as Colonial Brand Skateboards — in the next few months.
The idea for the new board was born out of necessity, said partner Ross Graham. While technologies in other sports like skiing, snowboarding and bicycling have all advanced over the past decades, a skateboard you buy today is much the same as one you would have bought in the 1980s, Graham, 35, said.
As more and more skateboards are manufactured at plants outside the United States, Graham and Anderson said the build quality has suffered.
"They just don't make them like they used to," Graham said. "There are only five skateboard brands that still manufacture in the United States."
Graham and Anderson, childhood friends who grew up skateboarding around Las Vegas, decided to try to fill the perceived gap in the market with a high-quality, American-made product, and in April formed Colonial Brand Skateboards with their third partner, Jim Wursthorn.
Around the company's warehouse near Jones Boulevard and Blue Diamond Road, buckets of glue, discarded wood and skateboards in various stages of construction illustrate the trial-and-error method that led Anderson and Graham to their final design.
"We have broken more boards than you can imagine," Anderson said. "We've tried about every imaginable way to break them."
Each Colonial skateboard is handmade with high-quality maple wood that is layered in several thin strips that are then glued and pressed together. After a week spent drying, the boards are formed into shape using bandsaws and sanders.
The secret to the board's durability is a carbon fiber fabric, which is strategically layered into the wood to provide extra strength down the board's axis and near its trucks.
The finished product is branded with Colonial's logo and comes in a variety of colors.
Graham, who fabricates most of the company's skateboards, said the goal was to provide the strongest, most durable product possible while still keeping the board lightweight and cost competitive with other brands.
"I'm trying to make these not as toys, but as equipment you can use," he said. "Our goal is to make it as close to an everyday skateboard as possible, but to reinforce the areas that are prone to breakage."
The skateboard deck, without wheels or grip tape, will retail for between $65 and $85, depending on the model, Anderson said. Colonial plans to sell the boards through its website, www.colonialbrand.com, which is set to launch within the next few weeks, and by partnering with independent skate shops around the country.
The company already has its sights set on expanding, with plans to begin hiring new employees. Anderson said the company also plans to reach out and get involved more with the Las Vegas skate community.
"The sky's the limit on this," Anderson said. "You won't see a skateboard like this anywhere else."