Office Space with 30s Thursday: Airblaster

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When I strolled up to the brick building on 12th and Division (that was once a Ford manufacturing plant in the 1930’s) I imagined rows of neatly dressed midgets at machines sewing leg-bags and watching snowboard movies.  I pictured Travis Parker running around doing that thing where you make fart noises come out your armpits, while artists doodled pictures of air-pills and pterodactyls.

After a quick elevator ride and a lap around the common space (the building is a collection of smaller offices for many different businesses) I found a discrete set of beige double doors shut tightly and marked by a haphazardly drawn air-pill on a tiny dry erase board.  I knocked, walked in, and didn’t find my midgets.

In fact, all I found was an open space, a ping-pong table, secret racks of creative outerwear concoctions, an awesome collection of fan mail/art, and 3 guys working (and 2 of them don’t even work at Airblaster).  I was confused…

Guy 1: Ben Fee — Ex Snowboarder Magazine associate editor, turned male model, music producer, filmmaker, and US’s Ambassador to Iceland was hanging out at his sublet desk editing a video.

Guy 2: Chris “The Smuggler” Ryan — A computer programmer friend, who wrote the code for the classic “Airblasteroids” game, greets me when I walk in.  He’s quick to show off the wireless router he neatly plugged in the day they moved in.

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And

Guy 3. Paul Miller — An actual Airblaster employee (Co-Founder, graphic designer, web master, logistics guy and international shipping guru) gave me the run down on why the office is so simple, (and it’s pretty bitch’n!):

Last year the owners of AB decided they we’re over the typical office thing and decided to split up their conventional office rent budget so that everyone can work where they wanted to.  As long as people stay in touch over the phone and web, get together for occasional meetings and get their work done, everything runs smooth.  So, as near as I can figure, there are four other fingers of Airblaster’s handy work:

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Office #2.) Jesse Grandkowski — (Co-Owner, Marketing guy, TM, clothing designer, copywriter, etc.)  Works out of a roaming Toyota RV!  (FYI — that’s awesome).  Working, shredding and traveling to wherever the snow’s flying or the sun’s shining.

Plus: Melissa Cronwell (Outerwear developer and designer) — Works out of the Portland office and/or Jesse’s RV (they’re dating, She turns 30 Sunday).

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Office #3.) Tyler Scharpf — (Co-Owner, CFO, Accountant, and business nerd) Lives in Bend, OR working out of a spare bedroom in his home doing math, PowerPoints  and whatnot.  He rides Bachelor a lot.

Office #4.) Jonas Lea — (Sales Manager/Social Butter Fly) Works out of half a bedroom in San Francisco, CA making big deals and eating Rice-a-Roni.

Office #5.) Travis Parker — (Artist, Designer, Dreamer)  Lives in South Lake Tahoe, working, recreating, shredding and fixing the planet.

Official coring of the Portland Office

How’s the shitter?
Score: 4
Shitty situation.  It’s a communal bathroom shared with the other offices in the building.  The toilets clog all the time and sometimes you’re taking a dump in the same room as a random dude you don’t even know.

How nice are the cars in the parking lot (a good way to judge pay scales)?
Score: 6
Bad judge as the parking lot is shared.  Regardless, I saw a lot of Volkswagens, some Subarus and a Beamer (one of those old ones people who can’t afford BMW’s, but still want to, drive).

Do they allow dogs?
Score: 10
Yes they allow dogs.  My trusty yellow lab, Peanut, had fun chewing on the ping pong balls and sniffing the crotches of the Ninja Suits.

How long is a typical workday?

Score: 10
Nobody seemed to know.  A policy like this means flexibility, and flexibility means fun.

What’s the weekday riding policy?
Score: 10
Snowboarding (and fly-fishing) during the week seem to be highly encouraged (as long as you’re getting your work done).

Snacks in the break room?
Score: 0
No cake, no cookies, no bowl of dirty M&M’s on the boardroom table… nothing.  If you want some home cooking, this is the wrong place to start looking.

Recreational Opportunities
Score: 9
Ping Pong is king at Airblaster.  Actually, if you had no idea what Airblaster was when you visited, you’d think it was a half ass ping-pong day care for adults who owned a lot of outerwear.  The only reason I didn’t score this as a 10 is because their paddles cost more than their $40 table.

Chair Comfort
Score: 3
In keeping with cubicle dividers fashioned from their old trade show booth, the chairs are mainly thrift store purchases and found items.

Proximity to good food
Score: 8
You can walk to New Seasons (a grocery store for rich hippies), and you’re with in a mile from a bunch of wacky eateries on Division St.

General BO levels of co-workers.
Score: 7

Paul and Chris are pretty clean guys, but Ben Fee should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for his farts.  Horrible smells aside, the sheer quantity of gas that guy produces is mind blowing.  Thankfully he’s in Iceland half the time or I’d have given them a zero.

Likelihood of getting a job there
Score: 2

The boys at Airblaster run a tight ship.  In fact, with the exception of an occasional interning sticker jockey, and Melissa, everyone who works at Airblaster day-to-day is an owner (Paul, Jesse, Tyler, Jonas and Travis).

Total Score: 69 (the score where both parties score)

All in all the Airblaster office is a pretty simple place.  Their money goes into developing fun original products and they’ve set up their satellite style operations to enjoy life doing something they love.  I left the office that day having gained a newfound love for ping-pong, a fresh outlook on the old 9 to 5 and a sneak peak at the funniest ninja suit you’ll ever see (next Fall).

9 replies
  1. burritosandsnow
    burritosandsnow says:

    “occasional interning sticker jockey”

    no wonder it takes so long to get shit from their mail order haha

  2. Joey
    Joey says:

    This is a cool story. As a customer looking at the business from the outside in I would have thought that Airblaster was just like the other companies. 10, 20 plus employees, lots of money for fancy things and basically just another business. It is cool to see that they are small and they are really snowboarders making good product. Thanks for the story and I am going to support brands like this for sure.

  3. longboarder
    longboarder says:

    I have ordered a few things from Airblaster and the shipping time was fine. I am also stoked they are into ping pong because that crap is fun.

  4. greatblackshark
    greatblackshark says:

    Preston, the word on the street is you only have one ball? Are you going to put a marble in there or something soon?

    Your story is very nice by the way. It’s nice to know the Airblaster guys are poor.

  5. Bronee
    Bronee says:

    He’s on the book shelf behind what could be a legbag

    much love to all of airblaster and sting pong fans

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