‘We’re family’: RMOB Revoked & Co. gives back to the community through skateboards
Staying in touch with friends after high school isn’t always easy, but for one of Point Loma and Ocean Beach’s most tight-knit group of friends, they remain as united today as they were 25 years ago, bonded by memories, a passion for skateboarding, artistic and musical interests and the camaraderie developed through life’s ups and downs.
RMOB Revoked & Co., or RMOB for short, is the brainchild of a group of six high school buddies — primary owner Josh Utley and friends Jeremiah Liebrcht, Nathan Donolato, Damien Collins, Matt Coleman and Christopher Lobreglio.
RMOB is a skateboard brand with a simple and clear vision: “We give skateboards to kids in need.”
For every RMOB skateboard purchased, the company gives one to a young skateboarder.
The concept of RMOB was sparked nearly three decades ago when the group of young skateboarders couldn’t always afford to buy skateboards.
“A lot of us just didn’t have money,” Utley said. “We were from broken homes — I think only two ... had their families intact — so money was tight.”
According to Utley, even a blank skateboard priced at the average cost of $20 was over their budget. If a skateboarder wanted to find a sponsor or get good skateboarding footage, it was common to go through a board about every two weeks. The challenge to afford their passion sparked the idea to start their own company.
Today, after several brand name changes, expanding to 30 people and going on a handful of hiatuses, Revoked is doing what it does best — bringing people together through the love of skateboarding.
“While my other partners do not contribute financially, I still consider them partners of the company,” Utley said. “They’ve all contributed in their own way, whether it be through emotional support, meetings, ideas, suggestions, promoting the brand or just plain love. They are the core of the brand.”
The journey of RMOB
RMOB Revoked has its roots in the early 1990s, though Utley can’t recall exactly where the term “revoked” came from.
“I’ve asked and nobody really knows,” he said, though he added that the lyrics of the Grateful Dead’s song “Truckin’” come to his mind: “I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,” the song says. But that’s not necessarily where the brand name came from. His father was a big “Dead Head,” Utley said, explaining the significance.
In April 1995, Utley bought the business license for Revoked Skateboarders & Company. (Today, his company Intrepid Network Inc. owns and holds the trademark “Revoked.”)
In January 1996, he changed the name to Revoked Skateboarders & Co. In 2009, he changed it to Revoked Life. And in 2017, he changed it again, this time to RMOB Revoked & Co. in homage to the Grateful Dead’s decision to change its name to Dead & Co. The name change made the brand more inclusive as well, Utley said.
“Not everybody was a skateboarder, so the ‘co.’ represents everybody who’s maybe a DJ or has a job in entertainment, maybe they’re an artist or a musician,” he said. “So ‘revoked’ are the skateboarders … you would get revoked from a spot or a cop would take your skateboard away — that happened a lot in the ‘90s — so the ‘revoked’ was the act of the police taking a skateboard or taking a skate spot away from you. And then the ‘co.’ is the company you keep.”
RMOB sells skateboards and merchandise in local shops such as Ocean Beach Surf & Skate on Newport Avenue, as well as at other skate shops and online. Each board sold equals a board given away to a kid in need, which often happens while the RMOB friends are out skateboarding.
If they encounter a young skateboarder with a beat-up board, they’ll often hand over a new one.
“Some of the relationships we built through skateboarding — or through something like music, or any of this stuff — I think that not everybody has that opportunity unless they can get their hands on a skateboard or get their hands on this or that,” Coleman said. “So I think [Josh] sees it, and especially since he’s got kids who are at the age we were, he kind of sees the opportunity to help kids out.”
The brand increased its community involvement beginning in 2019.
It began donating skateboard decks to various skateboarding events to raise money for cancer patients and started sponsoring the Clash at Clairemont, a fundraiser that benefits the Grind for Life cancer charity.
RMOB Revoked operates the San Diego chapter of Skate for Change, an organization of which it has been a member since 2012. Skate for Change is committed to providing service to the community, especially low-income families and homeless people, through local efforts. Through Skate for Change, Revoked donates and distributes skateboards to children, as well as water and other goods.
“I just want to help,” Utley said. “I don’t want to try to get rich. I don’t need that from my people here in my hometown … we’re all friends, we’re family. That’s how I see things; that’s how we’ve always seen things.”
Skateboard deck collaborations
RMOB’s most recent skateboard deck collaboration is with comic book artist Jim Rugg, creator of “Street Angel.” The comic book series depicts the adventures of a homeless middle school-age girl who is a powerhouse combination of skateboarder, ninja and vigilante.
According to Utley, the collaboration is a “no-brainer,” as the main character, Jesse Sanchez, embodies the heart and soul of RMOB.
“If you were to take all the people involved in RMOB and meld them together into one human being, it would be Street Angel,” he said.
“Girls gotta have their representation as well, so this is my way of doing that,” he added.
RMOB’s first skateboard deck collaboration was with Buck-O-Nine, a punk-ska band that originated in San Diego. The band’s music resonated deeply with Utley a few years ago while he was mourning the death of his father-in-law, Eugene Bergerson Sr.; it brought back positive memories for him.
The second collaboration was a deck made in recognition of Nick Coleman, younger brother of Matt Coleman, featuring the artwork of Steven Nazar, acclaimed original artist and creator of the T&C Surf Designs characters Thrilla Gorilla, Joe Cool and Da’Boys.
“I hope to someday pass the company on to our children,” Utley said. “We do not seek anything other than to continue our friendship as we journey through life as friends and family. And to help bring some much-needed joy to some kids along the way.”
For more information, visit revokedmob.com.