So, I have been on a lil kids bike for nearly 15years now, grew up in the Florida scene, spent my summers and fathers money at Mission [Skate Park]. I have always looked to certain riders in videos. I have also just looked up to people in this industry in general, I have ate, bled and breathed BMX since the mid 90’s. One rider I have always looked up to is Chad [Degroot], he has this mad smooth flat style and a park style I could only dream of selling at a large retail venue by the bucket.
So, over the years a lot of new rider-owned companies have been popping up. some stick, some flop. Some are still infants, some own the industry. Mr. Chad DeGroot took some time from his never ending circle of fun to answer a hand full of questions for me. He is the owner/operator of DECO BMX and a Bike shop (Mr.Bs Bikes N Boards) in the Longwood FL Area. These are the thoughts from his never ending circulation of knowledge.
Q - So, youve been a rider for a couple Decades, what pushed you to start Deco?
CHAD - Just seeing how bad some people run companies, namely UGP, and knowing they have potential but never really get it. While working at that company I saw how Taiwan worked, how to ship boxes, do invoicing, maintain stock levels, and stay true to the original idea or plan on why and how a company should go in the direction they do. My vision was pretty easy, work for myself and build it from scratch with no partners and use my sense of humor and the respect people have of me to make a company that looks like how I want it to be scene. Bascially I don´t know much except bmx and I want to stay in the industry cause it has given me what I have today. I have so much pride invested in this company its insane.
Q - You have a full line up of frames, fork and components, do you do all the design work or do you have a lil gremlin doing it for you?
CHAD - The first designs were done in my living room with my wife real drunk a few nights. She is in school and does some CAD work. So we pounded a few drinks and I told her what I wanted and it actually worked out, it’s insane. Some items are existing, I didn´t invent the pivotal seatpost, just put the Deco. logo on them. Its really tough and costly to do your own molds and from-scratch items, but we did suck it up and did a grip that I am more than happy with. Mold charges can suck off, but if you want to make a statement you have to start from scratch. Right now I am running, shipping, doing designs, the website, web store, and everything in between myself. I´m not against employees but right now I can do it all. Once that changes I am fearful of the other change that will happen.
Q - Seems as if you are doing a lot at once, DeCo. And Mr.B’s. I am amazed you aren’t TOTALLY gray at the moment, using any good hair care products we should know about? Maybe some beard input while you’re at it.
CHAD - I keep the beard and hair trim so all the grays don´t finally take over. That transition was real tough to accept, growing old and looking it with the grays. But in the end, if I went bald I wouldn´t get new hair, if I´m all gray, it is what it is...and yes my plate is full of work, but I got into this mess and I am going to get out some day.
Q - Do you have an actual factory team right now or, is it all just flow? Any local riders after you for free shit?
CHAD - That is a real hard term I was faced with, so this answer might or might not make sense. Team is a work I really don´t like. I hook people up that are my riders and represent Deco. and I hook up my friends. There are two main riders that I try to help out in everyway I can which are Tom Villarreal and Mat Olson. The list is pretty big if l listed the people I hook up, but in a sense were a family if anything, just supporting each other and trying to ride bikes when bikes are expensive and the bmx industry is trying to self destruct on itself. As for local riders, hell yes. I give shit to Rob Nolli, Jimmy Walker, Dave Brumlow, Bob Walters, Kip Williamson, and there is a bunch of people that get real nice deals. Full Factory is a term I grew up with, its an amazing term, but doesn´t really apply to Deco.
Q - You have a very unique riding style, do you think it has flooded into your business life also?
CHAD - I would think so. Woops, first off Thanks. I sometimes get into answers before taking compliments, so thanks if thats a compliment. Business life is crazy, in a sense yes I do incorporate it in cause I try to see the customers view as well not just be a dude selling shit at a bike shop. With Deco. I can´t help but swear on the phone and tell it how it is, our parts are amazing and I back them 100%. My pride goes into the business as well, I can´t help it, its all awesome and I appreciate everything I am learning to make my business and my life better. Hopefully my style of business reflects my riding style and vice versa.
Q - Most rider-owned companies are named after the owner.... why did you go the other direction and what is with "succubus?"
CHAD - It is named after me or at least my last name. "DE" is short for DeGroot and "CO." is short for company, so Deco. is DeGroot Company. So now you look like a fool asking that silly question, you owe me a beer, one of those tall ones. Succubus is an amazing term, every since I heard it I was truelly amazed by it. The Definition of Succubus is: A female demon appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual intercourse. Religious traditions hold that repeated intercourse with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death. So there you have it, how can you not like having sex in your dreams? and for the religious part, I don´t believe in that part, sex is good awake or asleep. In the end I was trying to get a picture painted in your head but also state that there is a bmx Succubus which will give you bmx dreams and suck the bmx right out of you.
Q - What do you think you can do differently with DECO than the other companies in the industry?
CHAD - What can I do? Just do it the way I think it should be done. If you spend to much time thinking and doing what everyone else is doing you will have a midlife crisis and it will show. BMX is small and there are a handfull of companies doing their own thing, in the end I really want to do and make stuff that people will talk about. Just trying to put my stamp on this generation and the next. Plant some roots and make them grow.
Q - You have a big local following in Florida, do you think that´ll have an affect on the product and testing?
CHAD - Testing is a funny term. We do have a following here because its in your face. Look at Standard back in the day, it was out of Iowa but those surrounding states all supported it. They took over the whole midwest. Were still small but like any disease were spreading pretty fast and hopefully making a mark in the Florida area. Back to testing, I have tested a few things here and there, Mat Olson has as well. But most of the stuff we produce is welded and manufactured by the same company as most of bmx use in Taiwan. I went over there and saw how many brands, legit brands, that they produce all under the same roof. Its crazy yet reassuring that they know what they are doing. Were not doing cast stuff or making shit light as hell so we are pretty straight to the point, not the lightest, but great quality and craftsmanship. We have only had a few items that have had flaws, but in the end if you jump off a two story building to flat or eject off the mega ramp something will happen. We did fix everything as much as we could. We need to go back to the early days of bmx and dress dudes up in one piece suits and really test the shit, that was funny and they didn´t give a shit, they really sent themselves. Maybe someone could start a company where you send them the parts and some crazy dudes test the shit in everyway. Start your own business, there, you have the idea.
Q - Anyone you want to thank?
CHAD - You, my wife and kids, my Succubus for those long nights, Matt Coplon and Profile, Powerbar, Mat Olson, Tom Villarreal, James Covington, My dad, Mom, brothers, Deco. supporters, Crash at Knucklenap.com, Kip Williamson, Bob Walters, Brien Kielb, Locals, Fran Meli at City of Longwood, QBP crew, all my dealers, all my distributors, JAPAN for keeping it real, Povah and Etnies, Pam and Red Bull, the grassroots crews from Two By Four and Pusher BMX, Duncan Gore, Sab, Daryl Nau, Catfish, Dave Freimuth, Dave Brumlow, Hey Man, my iPhone, Trees, and strong and devoted people. I´m out. Peace....
After reading and formulating, I think Chad has this on lock. should be awesome to see what DeGroot Company has coming in the near future. I am off to the liquor store to grab some booze and put my foot in my mouth again. Special Thanks to Chad for taking the time out of his never ending schedule to answer this and spend some time showing off the line of goodies he has.
If you would like to get your paws on any of these goodies, you can go to www.decobmx.com and order right from the warehouse, skip the middle man!
Questions and Edit – Matt Kneer
Photos by Chad DeGroot & Matt Kneer