On this spring day in 1976, George Powell and his son Abe (pictured, blue shirt) were skateboarding at Pacific Palisades High School when a handful of the era’s best (foreground, from left: Bob Biniak, “Baby Paul” Cullen, Stacy Peralta, Paul Hoffman, Paul Constantineau, and, not pictured, Santa Barbara–based Tom Sims) showed up with photographer Art Kane to capture patriotic imagery for an H.J. Heinz Company shareholder report. Trying to keep up with the big guys, 7-year-old Abe took a hard slam.
During the break in the action, Powell, a Stanford-trained engineer who built skateboards in the family garage, introduced himself to top pros Sims and Peralta. Soon thereafter, the Powells moved to Santa Barbara’s Eastside, and in November 1976, Powell Corporation was born, producing an aluminum-skinned slalom board for Sims and white urethane wheels called Bones. In 1978, Peralta transitioned to the business side of the burgeoning industry, forming Powell-Peralta Skateboards, whose Bones Brigade team of young pioneers included Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, and a fledgling Tony Hawk.
In 40 years, Powell — now incorporated as Skate One — has never missed a day of manufacturing, with Bones wheels and bearings his top sellers and Powell-Peralta still showcasing the unmistakable artwork of Vernon Courtlandt Johnson. Powell’s most recent tinkering has produced Flight skate decks, reinforced with fiberglass and carbon fiber to be lighter and stronger than traditional maple laminates.