Northwest Riders was officially started in February of 2004 in Bellingham, WA by Greg Young. The first batch of Northwest Riders Clothing was actually made a few months before that by famed wakeboard cinematographer Sean Kilgus. Sean made 20 t-shirts to bring to a Northwest Sessions wakeboard competition, intending to give most of them away to friends and sell the rest to make his money back. The shirts were more popular than expected and when Sean realized the potential to start an actual brand, he generously gave Greg the go-ahead to take the brand and run with it.
When Greg officially licensed the company and came up with the tree logo, his plan was simply to produce and sell enough clothing to pay for gas and food while he was traveling around the Northwest wakeboarding. He never intended to keep the company going after he graduated from Western Washington University the following year. As the first summer in business drifted by, clothing was selling reasonably well and people really seemed to be behind a company that was supportive and involved in the local action sports community. Greg decided to reinvest all of the revenue from clothing sales back into the company to see if it might grow into something a bit bigger.
Upon graduation in the winter of 2005, the time he had originally planned on shutting down operations to get a career started, Greg came to the realization that he didn’t want a real job. Northwest Riders took the step into a second year in business. Soon afterwards, Greg and friends Sean Kilgus, Danny Bergman, and Brent Starr were approached by Malibu Boats to start a traveling wakeboard Clinic Tour for their "Just Ride" series. Everyone gladly agreed and the Northwest Riders Summer Tour was born. In addition to spending the summer months on the road exploring the lakes and backroads of the Northwest teaching people to wakeboard, the Tour gave us an opportunity to sell more clothing as well. With business picking up and the laid back lifestyle that all riders dream of only getting better, the idea to really push the company into a year-round career began to look more and more realistic.
By the following spring, it was clear to Greg that he couldn’t handle the clothing company, the Tour, and his other part time jobs without some help. He approached Zack Clark, who created WakeboardNorthwest.com (a former northwest news and information website), about the possibility of teaming up on Northwest Riders. The two had only known each other for about a year, but after giving the idea of a partnership about 5 minutes of thought, they decided to become 50/50 partners. A handshake and a “welcome to the company” was exchanged, and we haven’t looked back since.
Once Zack became a partner at the company in April of 2006, things started taking shape. For the first year, meetings were held once or twice a month and work was done sparingly to keep things slowly moving forward. In September of 2007, Zack moved from Issaquah to our home office in Lake Forest Park. For four months Zack slept on an air mattress in the corner of the office until one of the roommates in the house attached to the office moved out and he had his own room. As roommates, Greg and Zack could both work full-time jobs and then come back to the office and bust out a few hours of work every evening. From September 2007 thru December 2009, both worked 40-50 hrs per week at other jobs, and another 20-30 at NWR. A lot of sacrifices were made, but seeing the business grow and take shape was worth it.
Beginning on January 1st of 2010, we “re-launched” the company by quitting our other jobs and focusing 100% of our energy into Northwest Riders. We shifted focus from ‘maintaining’ the business to focusing on continued growth and long-term sustainability.
Where We’re Headed…
Throughout our years of traveling (both in and outside of the Northwest), we’ve developed a true passion and appreciation for the region that we call home. The Northwest is one of the most beautiful and unique places on the globe. Where else can you find mountains, deserts, rainforests, and the ocean all within a few hours drive? Although as owners we both come from a background in wakeboarding, we both spend a lot of our time surfing, snowboarding, and exploring the backroads and wilderness around the Northwest. Our goal is to capture the uniqueness of home in the clothing we produce, the photography and design that we showcase, the team riders that we support, and the events that we’re involved with. We are two mellow and pretty "average" dudes and Northwest Riders has become about the tag line: "Representing the Everyday Outdoorsman." We may not be top athletes, but we love the sports and environments around them and that is what the NWR brand is about. If you are similar and enjoy the same...we invite you to buy some quality goods to represent that lifestyle and let your friends know what we are about.