Bob Brown and Craig Bryant were skating at the Roseville Pipe on Anzac Day 1977, when they met Adrian Jones skating there. Adrian told Bob and Craig about a pool at Pymble, they asked Adrian where it was, and drove there immediately, Adrian showing the way. It was the old abandoned Frank O’Neil Swimming Pool Complex in Pymble, a northern suburb of Sydney. Adrian and other local skaters had been skating the top pool which was only partly skateable. The bottom pool was larger and had a lot of debris and water in it, so being older skaters, and working, Bob and Craig hired a pump the next day and pumped the pool out , and that started things…
Picture above shows a session at the pool, in the foreground, left bottom corner, is Lindsay Moynham and Matt Thomas with myself skating the pool.
I was taken by Bob to Pymble pool in late 1977, and was blown away at the sight I saw. That was when I then joined Matt Thomas, Bob Brown, Greg Phillips (Rertz) and Craig Bryant, skating the pool in the summer of late 1977. I was stoked in the rush of skating a wall, as I had been skating factories and carparks with Lindsay Moynham prior to this. Lindsay also then started skating the pool.
The original Ozi Skate skaters were, Matt Thomas, Bob Brown, Craig Bryant, Greg Phillips, Lyndsay Moynham, Michael Geraghty(Rocky), and myself, in as much that we were a group of skaters that hung out together at various times.
Duane Heketa and Dale Halpin joined Ozi Skate shortly after, as sponsored skaters.They were the first of many to follow who come to mind, through the early to mid 80’s, including Sin Egelja, Chris Briggs, Simon Reynolds and Mick Mulhall.
The first skaters we ever saw do aerials in the Pymble pool were Robert ‘Wedge’ Francis and Adrian Jones, and they were ripping it up.
After skating in the pool and seeing various pics in Skateboarder Magazine, I decided to invest in the skatepark.
I soon sold my record shop and joined two others to form Pacific Skateparks, with the naive idea of building skateparks all across the country.
The skatepark was never finished, for various reasons that I won’t go into here.
The skatepark was sold to a new investor in 1981, it was never officially opened, but stayed there through the 1980’s, derelict and free, to whoever wanted to skate it…
Bob Brown told me that he, Matt , Rertz and Craig had been hanging out one night chilling and conceived the idea of Ozi Skate as a skateboard company.
Soon after this decisive moment, Matt started making decks in his garage at home, with the first logo's being hand drawn.
After hearing this, I decided that the skatepark and a skateboard company would go down well.
In 1978, I talked with Matt about the idea of making Ozi skateboards a company.We agreed that I would market and sell the brand and he would make the decks, with me funding it. The company we formed was called Vertical Products Pty Ltd.
My brother had a kitchen factory in Brookvale, so we rented a very small area at the back and Matt started making the decks for the first time as a commercial entity.
Matt designed all the shapes back then and was in charge of making, spraying, and printing the decks with the help of skaters, Bob and Lindsay.
The first decks made in the factory, were solid maple decks with 3 ply laminates on the bottom, with solid timber wedge tail.
All were hand shaped with a lot of care and time taken.
A relatively small number of these decks were made.
At that time, we found a company that processed industrial polyurethane and used them to make the very first Ozi wheels, which I machined on an old lathe in the garage of the house I was renting, we had no room at our little factory. All the selling and marketing in those early days was done from my home. Our first customer was Sunshine Surfing at Manly, N.S.W.
We really didn’t know much about laminating a ply deck at that time and tried various methods of making them.One of the first and most memorable methods we tried, was using my brothers coffee urn to try and steam a bend into flat plywood for a kick tail, that didn’t work at all…
Matt and I went and visited a company that was making decks for others at the time. The plywood company was using radio frequency generators to cook the glue, and templates to press the blanks.
Because we wanted to lay-up and press our own blanks in plywood, we then bought an old radio frequency generator and rigged up a press.
Matt started laying-up the first Ozi full ply decks using silver ash veneers. We had a wild learning curve with the radio frequency generator, but the decks turned out to be a great success.
This is also when the first Ozi Airbrush decks started - all on the natural plywood decks with various designs.The wheel arches were hand shaped for the solid decks and some of the first ply decks.Matt machined the wheel arches in all the later ply decks.
By 1980 it was becoming obvious to me that the skatepark wasn’t going to open on time, and because of the delays with it, our sales weren’t enough to support Matt and myself - we were in trouble.
Owing to these circumstances in 1980, Matt was compelled to move on, I assumed full ownership of Ozi Skate and moved into the factory, living and working there on my own for some time.
In late 1980 , I moved the factory to larger premises, living above the office, and working virtually around the clock.
As the method we had been using to lay up the decks prior to this was primitive and time consuming, and with lack of funds to update it all, I sourced a maker of plywood blanks and specified the laminate lay-ups.All the shaping and finishing for the decks was still done in-house.
It wasn’t until 1981 that I employed more staff to cope with the increased workload. The first of these decks can be identified because they were the first black airbrushed Ozi decks and these had no wheel arches.The designs were individually sprayed on each airbrush deck, no deck was the same .Canary ash was used in the laminates for these decks.
In 1982 I redesigned the Ozi Skate logo, the original logo was designed by a friend of Matt’s, the original concept drawings and film for the original logo are shown on this page.
In 1983 a new range of decks with new silver ash natural, painted, and fibre laminates was released. These were the Ozi Eureka deck, Ozi Kangaroo deck and the Ozi Street Cruiser deck.The Ozi Concave deck followed shortly after.
These decks were also sold on complete skateboards, using the Ozi trucks and Ozi wheels for the first time.Cloud Truck Cushions were used in these skateboards.
The Eureka deck graphic was drawn by myself, influenced by the revolution in Australia at the Eureka Stockade. The original artwork for the Street Cruiser was drawn by an artist friend under my direction, and the graphic was influenced by my first ufo experience. The Ozi Kangaroo deck graphic was conceived and drawn by the same artist for a typical Australian look.
Some of these decks were made using silver ash veneers in natural and painted finish without fibre top and bottom. All the airbrush decks were black lacquered natural ply and had the wheel arches in them from the release of these new decks.
The first Ozi wheels were made in 1978 to 1980 from industrial grade material, and were no longer up to the performance levels needed. these were made as Ozi Flat-back wheels and Ozi Conical wheels.The logo was engraved onto the front of the wheels. The polyurethane processor we had contracted to make the wheels could not successfully pour the new blends that I had requested.
I could find no-one else who could pour these blends at that time, so I decided I would have to make them myself. With my chemistry background from school and university and my upbringing as the son of a chemist, I started working with urethane for the first time. I hand poured the first wheels in 1981 using a tin can, a stirring stick and a small hotplate.They were cured in an old second hand industrial oven.The initial urethane plant set-up was primitive, to say the least. After a very long learning curve with many rejects and lots of wheels poured into the rubbish over the following months, I finally worked a few things out and the result was the first high performance Ozi skateboard wheel.
All the Ozi wheels I ever made were hand poured, using urethane that was specifically blended with skateboarding in mind.These first advanced Ozi wheels were wider and looked similar to the Bones Cubic wheel.The logo was screen printed on the front of the wheel.They were only made in 90A high rebound material, 64mm in diameter, and in various colours. The Ozi Cruiser wheel followed, which we used on the Ozi Street Cruiser skateboard.This wheel was smaller and also poured in 90A hardness.
Two sizes of Ozi trucks were designed by skaters in 1978 (I remember Matt and Bob having the most input), along the lines of the Tracker Trucks, and were not actually made until later, when the company could afford further development.
The wooden patterns for the Ozi trucks were made back in 1979-80, and sat doing nothing for a time.
Star trucks and Tracker trucks were used on completes from 1980 to 1982.
The Ozi trucks were first made in Sydney in 1983 using the highest grade aluminium aircraft alloy that could be sand cast.They were heat treated using high tensile case hardened studs and axles with polyurethane Cloud truck cushions.
The trucks were designed with pools and parks in mind, and were very advanced for their time. We did not cast the trucks in-house.The blank baseplates and hangers were delivered to us and then were sent out for drilling and fitting of the studs and axles then we assembled them.
Ozi Skate riser pads were injection moulded for use on the complete Ozi skateboards.The first Ozi truck baseplates were sand cast alloy, and were followed by Zytel nylon baseplates for lighter weight.
I sold Ozi Skate in late 1984, and under a different owner, new Ozi decks and new Ozi wheels were made, but my history with Ozi skate stopped then, and I have no further details of these newer Ozi products. I went on to design and manufacture the Cockroach skateboard brand from 1987-1989, Cozmo Inline wheels 1992-2006, including Cozmo skateboard wheels in 1997, and finally, Cortech, Electro, and Pointblank skateboard wheels from 1998-2007, but these are stories for another time.