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History Of Grind King Trucks

History Of Grind King Trucks

In 1988, Donald Cassel walked into the ASR trade show in sunny longbeach California holding nothing but his invention in his hand… It was a small oddly shaped kingpin, much different to anything else on the market. 
He had nothing to his name, no money, no team, no industry experience, just an idea that he thinks will work. Little did he know that minutes later his whole life was about to change… This is his story, it’s a story of innovation, success, failures, murder, drug dealers, money laundering, celebrities, wealth, and much much more… 

The Start: 

Donald Cassel always wanted to be an inventor, he starts out working for a civil engineer at a young age and later moving on to an architecture firm, where he primarily worked in designing shopping centres.

Donald Cassel

One day, a big time drug dealer offers him a ton of money to do a "development company", the guy tells him he’d like to be an investor and told him to meet him at a gas station the side of the PCH in the middle of the day. at this gas station a Cadillac pulls up where he is thrown a brown paper bag with $170k cash.

Unsurprisingly, not long after this money was given to him he starts seeing the guys face all over the news as a wanted fugitive. Cops start at Donalds work asking if he knows the drug dealer, because of this Donald sells the property, pays the guy back, and decides he needs a fresh start.

GRIND KING:

Donald eventually gets back to his dream of being an inventor; he sees the problem of kingpins catching on grinds as skateboarding evolves. The kingpin problem came from how original skateboard trucks were based off of roller skate trucks, so they have a protruding kingpins, it doesn’t matter on roller-skates because there not grinding, but was a poor design for a skateboard truck due to the low clearance, causing skaters to hang up on grinds. 

With the intent to fix this problem Donald draws up the design for the worlds first ever "reverse kingpin". In 1988, he borrows $50K from his brother mike, who is a big time Venice drug dealer as well as a skater and the founder of famed clothing company Bronze Age, to start Grind King Trucks.

Donald buys some prototypes and launches his company “the Grinding Kingpin” which would later be shortened to Grind King. He goes to his first trade show with his brother, not having a booth or anything to his name. Donald walked about selling the kingpin out of the palm of his hand, making tons of sales, and launching the company into something real that day.


As the brand grows and becomes successful, Donald starts making standalone trucks. Since they were based out of Venice they were in close proximity to some of the biggest names in skateboarding at the time, he showed the product to legendary skater Jay Adams and he loved it, saying that “one day every truck will have these”.

GK builds a super-team of Jay Adams, Aaron Murray, Jeff Heartsl, Chris Cook, Jon Thomas, Jesse Martinez, Eric Dressen, and other legendary Dogtown crew guys, everyone was riding them. Jay Adams got the first signature pro truck:

 The Grind King logo was designed by Donald with the skaters and surfers of the Venice area.

Grind King Logo

As Grind King starts to blow up, Donald asks his drug dealer brother if he can  buy him out due to the fear of his brother going to jail. Shortly after this, his brother is arrested and is put in jail, causing him to lose Bronze Age, however he was payed out $117K for his $50K investment.

Von Dutch:

When Mike eventually got out of jail he decides that he wants to start a new clothing company, and he wants Donald to help him fund the brand, Mike's clothing company was called "Von Dutch".

Von Dutch Logo

The name came from the nickname for Kenneth Howard, who is a legend in the hot rod industry. Kenneth was also known as the “father of the flame”, as he was first one to start designing flames on motorcycles and cars.

Von Dutch Blows up, being worn by massive celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton, Dennis Rodman, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Lindsey Lohan, Brittney Spears, and many more.

Donald reluctantly sells his shares in the company, Then shortly after his brother mike gets kicked out of the very company he founded. Von Dutch continues to grow in size and reaches $300million/year. Eventually the brand is derailed after a partner of Von Dutch commits a murder, leading to the downfall of the brand. The insane story of Von Dutch is shown in a Hulu doc called "Curse of Von Dutch".

THE GOLDEN YEARS:

Grind King continues to explode, Donald is making 6M/year at this point due to the brand becoming extremely successful. 


They become the 3rd largest truck brand in the 90's, only rivalled by Independent and Venture. They had team riders like  Andy Mac and Daewon Song, they were also made in Los Angeles. At this point it seems like Donald can do no wrong, everything he does seems to explode and do super well. 

OTHER BRANDS:

Bridge bolts: Bridge bolts were very difficult to engineer as they were constantly snapping, because of this Donald didn't want to put out any ads in thrasher until they worked as intended. Donald eventually figured out how to prevent them from snapping by the third rendition.

Competitors release a very similar product called U-Bolts, these were snapping like crazy and were sent back to Donald by customers that thought they were the same product as bridge bolts. Sadly, Bridge Bolts did not last longer than the 90's.

GRIND KING RIMS:

These products were essentially just rims for your bearings...

 Skateboard Rims

TERMITE SKATEBOARDS:

Termite was a skateboard brand that was just for kids, they released a couple skate videos called "Pest Control" and "Bad Dreams".Termite Video

 Donald wanted to turn termite into a TV show, this way he could license the show for trademarks to make products and toys, with the hopes of expanding into termite surfing, snowboarding, etc. through the popularity.

While looking for investors, Donald is introduced to Gene Simmons from the band Kiss, Gene loves the idea and becomes a 50/50 partner in the company.

 They struggled to get the show up and running due to many investors not wanting to do the show because of genes image. Donald had many partners come and go but none of them were able to get the show to happen. Donald still owns the company to this day and wants a TV show to happen.

KREPER TRUCKS:

Donald wanted to start making whacky trucks on purpose, like an "anti-truck" that were unlike any others, he came up with the name Kreper Trucks.

These trucks were really something, they still have a sort of cult-like following to this day due to their unique designs.

Kreper Trucks Ad

There have been a ton of rumours going around of Kreper making a comeback soon...

 THE END OF THE KING:

 In 2008, the U.S. economy was tanking, causing Grind King to start bleeding money, eventually leading them into debt. At this time other companies rip off grind king at lower prices, so Donald sells at a loss to try and compete with those brands. Eventually because of low truck sales and profit margins, the debt piled up and the company went dormant, Donald was forced to sell his house and fire his employees.

Donald is able to get income from hosting massive underground parties in his old warehouse. The underground club was called "Purple 33" and it gets super popular.

 The venue was eventually shut down by police after a fire at a different club in Oakland led to the death of 39 people.

MODERN GRIND KING:

In 2017, Donald gets send a video from the YouTuber "Rad Rat", the video is called "What Happened to Grind King?". Seeing this video is what re-ignited Donalds passion, as he knew that people still cared about the brand, he decides he's going to bring back Grind King Trucks. (You can still see Donalds comment)

 

A factory in China hits him up and offers to do the moulding for free to help start up the truck company again, so comes the disruptor truck. The Disruptor is a refined version of the original trucks, with a super low kingpin and a curved front baseplate that prevent boards from breaking. The bushings of the trucks are also integrated into the washers . You can even find these trucks in the video game "Session".

THE FUTURE OF GRIND KING:

Donald has a new truck that he developed a while ago called the "Grind King 3.0", not much is known about this truck at the moment but Donald has described it as "what a truck should look like in 2023", he is currently eating for the funding to launch this truck. The Disruptor truck is used as a sort of "crowd funding" campaign to raise money for the 3.0, and you can support the development of the Grind King 3.0 by buying some disruptors. 

2 comments

  • Cyril Teo

    I got 1 pair GK Disruptor Spark Truck. Nice billiont idea. Very different. In Malaysia language said BAGUS, MANTAP HEBAT,👍🏻

  • Matthew Evans

    I just read that buying gk is supporting a good cause. I just bought a set because I snapped a kingpin when i was a kid and they reminded me of that. Glad to be onboard with the grindking!

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