Omni Boards are returning to their roots, bringing back snowboards and adding snowskates to their range of skateboards. The Ulladulla business is gearing up with major investment in a new press and high-tech composites to relaunch some of its classic 80s snowboards and new designs to a fertile local and international market.
“We have 10 snowboard prototypes and six snowskates out with experts testing them now,” says Omni founder, Cary Pogson, who began making surfboards at age 14 in 1974 and in 1986 branched out into skateboard decks and snowboards.
The word “Omni” means all or everything, reflecting Cary’s love of board sports in all their forms.
In 1986, Omni was the first in Australia to manufacture snowboards when Cary was among the “Australian Snowboard Team” that travelled to Kashmir, along with Geoff Sawyer and Adrian Gibbs, snowboarding in the Himalayas, then travelling to the US to compete in the US Open in Vermont and then the World Titles, Colorado.
Omni was the major sponsor and partner in the Australia’s inaugural snowboard competition “Omni OZ Classic”, held at Guthega ski resort in September 1986.
After the boom, came an influx of international brands and Omni scaled back to custom skateboards, sponsoring the veritable ‘who’s who’ of Australian skateboarding in the 80s and 90s, eventually in 2005 relying on offshore manufacturing to compete with global prices.
“It was hard to keep pace with technology and moulds in the early snowboard days,” explains Cary, a carpenter by trade, ” which led me to keep doing skateboards and drop snowboards.”
“Now we’re back and manufacturing at home. There’s a big push for Australian-made and strong demand for home-grown product, especially the ‘retro’ styles. For the past two years, I’ve been busy refitting our factory and making the presses and other machines required for local production.”
This is the first time Cary has used epoxy resins from ATL Composites, specifically KINETIX® R246 and H124.
“I contacted ATL because I’d heard their epoxy resins are easy to work with and ideal for creating unique shapes with great flexibility and strength.”
The KINETIX laminating epoxy systems are manufactured in Australia by ATL Composites and have been formulated for the fabrication of fibreglass, aramid and carbon-fibre composites. The R246 low viscosity resin and H124 XtraFast hardener is suitable for wet-lay-up or vacuum bagging processes.
Ideal for the fabrication of parts requiring high strength and lightweight, the KINETIX systems are used in a variety of industries including performance racing yachts, automotive components and high-performance sports equipment.
“I was a bit hesitant at first using the quick hardener, worried it would go off on me before I was finished the lay-up. But it went very well. It gave me plenty of working time. In the heated press, it went off pretty quickly. The end result is very satisfying. The boards are flexing well.
“My son, Joel, his mates and my first snowboard team rider, Dave Kelly from 1987, are putting them through their paces at the snow. They are riding them hard and I’m getting good feedback from them, along with shop owners in Jindabyne. They like the old-school shapes and the quality of construction.”
As for the Snowskates, a combination of skis and skateboards, Cary says “they are growing in popularity”.
“It’s like a ski with a skateboard on top. Unlike snowboards and skis, you can do flip tricks like skateboarding. They’re allowed in the ski resorts now, so we’ll be seeing a lot of interest there.”
Cary is hoping to start sales soon online and via skate and board stores, relying on word of mouth at this stage of production.
“It’s amazing – all the people from back in the day are getting in touch. They’re looking for the unique experience of the original, retro boards, snow and skate.”
More at www.omnisk8.com.au