A 12-year-old boy is turning his passion for skateboarding into a business selling skate ramps - a stepping stone towards a bigger business goal.
As an upside of COVID-19, many Kiwis have turned their passion into a sideline business. Unable to go to his local skatepark during lockdown, Thomas, a passionate skater from Nelson, came up with the idea to create skate ramps kids could use at home.
Helped by his grandfather and later, his father, Thomas started AirRoll ramps, a home-based business that makes and sells skate ramps for skateboarding, scootering and occasional BMX-riding. After designing and sourcing materials, each ramp takes around two to four hours to build and is then sold online for between $150 and $300.
"We started off with a kicker ramp, and then people started ordering new ramps - so we made up those," Thomas explained.
Having ridden in the Tasman Skate Park Tour for the last few years and won prizes, Thomas is now sponsoring a $175 ramp for the event. He also makes ramps for people to hire.
"One school hired them and we ended up having to kick the kids off at the end of the hireage... they enjoyed it so much, they didn't want to get off," Thomas said.
Thomas' father Al says the business puts a smile on his face.
"It's not all about the money, it's about helping others," he said. "He's had this goal for a few years: this is a stepping stone along that path."
Having sold 30 ramps so far, Thomas is hoping profits from the business will eventually enable him to lease or buy a warehouse to set up an indoor skatepark.
"Then if it rains, people don't have to say 'there's nowhere to skate'... they can just go down to the skatepark."