Business & Real Estate

Local entrepreneurs cook up Potaito Boards

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Tait Detro, right, and Margot Czeropski are slated to launch Potaito Boards, a skateboarding company that features environmentally friendly and locally sourced products.

A new company is rolling out a product lineup that turns one person’s scraps into another’s skateboard. Potaito Boards – made of locally sourced, reclaimed wood – launches Nov. 15.

Los Altos resident Tait Detro spent his childhood sculpting and molding wood cabinets with his father, Tod, owner of Palo Alto-based Knotty Hole Woodworks. Noticing the discarded scraps, Detro – an avid skateboarder – began collecting the high-quality but oddly shaped pieces. Instead of being tossed or turned into mulch, he upcycled the wood.

“I started making skateboards instead of cabinets,” Detro said. “The boards I make may be offcuts of people’s kitchens in Los Altos.”

Detro built his own hydraulic press to design customized models. With the method he developed, he’s able to use scraps as small as 10 inches long.

“We inspect what we use thoroughly,” he said. “And as long as there’s building or demolition, we won’t run out of quality wood.”

Detro and Potaito Boards co-founder Margot Czeropski intend to continue building boards solely from scrap wood, and they’re developing relationships with the region’s carpenters and contractors to keep the products locally sourced.

Potaito Boards – dubbed after Detro’s childhood nickname – currently offers three models. The long and lean Baked provides a stable ride for simple cruising, and the mid-sized Taiter works well for commuters. The Wedge, a throwback to the pool board of the ’70s, enables versatility of ride styles.

“Longboarding is becoming pretty universal,” Czeropski said. “With big wheels, I can do it, my parents can do it – it’s a normal form of transportation.”

Local, environmental focus

Detro and Czeropski wanted to ensure that their completed skateboards – and not only the wooden decks – represent their support of quality, local products. The finished boards come equipped with U.S.-made wheels from Seismic Skate Systems in Colorado and trucks from Randal Truck Co. in Southern California.

“We were frustrated as customers not knowing where things are from or being bought by marketing,” Czeropski explained.

A skate shop employee during college, Detro learned that some brands forgo quality to keep costs low.

“It bothered me to see what mainstream skateboard companies were producing,” he said. “They use veneers, so an artificial surface may look like nice wood, but it would mostly be environmentally unfriendly.”

Skateboards generally comprise three layers, and some companies fill the middle with fiberglass resin or new lumber. Potaito Boards creates custom cross-grained cores – often with the smallest pieces of scrap wood – that strengthen the board.

“We’re here to prove that reclaimed or upcycled products can be beautiful and stronger than the harmful alternatives,” Czeropski said.

Product of innovators

Both Detro and Czeropski attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View. Czeropski went on to study at Chapman University, and Detro at San Francisco State University.

She markets, he manufactures. Within two years, the duo plan to move the woodworking operation out of the Knotty Hole Woodworks shop and into an independent space with a second press.

To prepare for the official business launch this month, the startup is in the midst of its first round of fundraising. Current donors, considered founding members, receive perks including a signup gift made of offcuts from – unsurprisingly but impressively – the reclaimed-wood skateboards.

“We’re not wasting anything,” Detro said. “We want every aspect of the company to be emphasizing our value of the environment and quality.”

Beginning Nov. 15, Potaito Boards products will be available at Black Diamond Sports in Palo Alto and Skateworks in downtown Los Altos.

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