Over the next three years, the business provided enough party funds for Roughneck himself, but the start of his family and financial need took precedence. With the money he made, Roughneck started a valet parking service that would provide enough dough to feed the kids and support a wife, but skating was never far from his mind. He decided to stay involved by only employing skaters. This way, he could keep his hardware company alive in spirit, even though the priority had changed. As his kids grew older and his marriage began to hit the skids, it was time to choose. “What do I want to do the next 10 to 20 years of my life? So, I decided to refocus on the hardware company. Maybe it’s actually something I can leave my kids down the line,” he says.
By 2006, Roughneck Hardware had been around for a decade and held the support of skaters and other industry vets. Based in San Fran, Roughneck had the likes of Thrasher and Deluxe as business models. “I saw them going to trade shows and setting up booths, or they would go on tour and tell me to grab my stickers and bolts and hop in the van. But they were never on my terms.” Roughneck needed his own way of branding his company, and getting the word out to skaters. “We were riding the train to the skatepark, and my friend Elias Bingup was like, ‘This is ingenius! The BART Tour. Bay Area Rapid Transit. Bay Area Roughneck Tour!’” By utilizing public transit, Roughneck assembled a tour of the nearest skateparks. For the first couple years, it was mayhem: a bunch of older dudes swilling tallboys on the train as they hopped from park to park. As the event grew, though, more and more kids became interested. What set this tour apart from the old-fashioned skate demos was the sense of camaraderie and community it created. By riding public transit from spot to spot, every kid was welcome, whether you were from the hood or the suburbs, whether you had a skateboard or not, and together they cruised the city’s streets and skateparks.
Panda, an SLC local (if you didn’t know), had been working with Roughneck out in Cali. After seeing the BART Tour, he mentioned that Utah had a similar transit system, Trax. With a few outside connections through business affiliates, Roughneck was introduced to SLUG Mag. “My buddy, [Hondo], had just opened Brick & Mortar, my art director knew Angela [Brown] through some business connection and sent [SLUG] some links to the BART Tour. We saw the name Trax and were like, ‘Wow, Roughside of the Trax,’” he says. With the Summer of Death skate series already in existence, the fit seemed logical. “Let’s not worry about the details—let’s get out there and get this first one over with. There were a lot of spots and cool things to skate. Mobs of diverse kids showed up—it was great,” he says.
As a way to market the brand, these tours were filmed and posted online. This would lay the foundation for “It’s a Rough Life,” a reality show based on Roughneck’s personal life and company dealings. In 2006, Jeremey Lavoi produced a mini-documentary piece on Roughneck, which planted the seed for the reality series' inception in 2010. “The guys that were filming it all, Team Jaded [Jeremey and his wife Abby Berendt Lavoi] ... wanted to produce a couple shows. We ... put a couple of the guys in the van and went somewhere,” says Roughneck. “At that time, I was going through a lot of personal issues: the kids, going through my divorce, and the [Team Jaded] guys were like, ‘We got to film a show.’” Calls stared coming in from Discovery Channel, MTV and a few other interested parties who had seen the BART Tour posts and the pilot. While negotiations are currently ongoing, they decided to release the videos online. That way, the footage doesn’t get stagnant or go unseen.