The skate culture ambassador from the Cape Flats
Kent Lingeveldt's Alpha Longboards is more than a business. Born in the Cape Flats, the brand is a beacon of local skate culture and has had a hand in shaping the scene and supporting its young talent since the start. Kent himself is more than a skateboarder - he's also a photographer and shaper whose work with bespoke skateboards celebrating local art has seen him become something of a local legend.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?
Spending time with my family, skating and surfing. I have a 9-month-old girl that's the light of my life.
What’s the next thing you’d like to tick off your bucket list?
Work alongside a young skater and mentor them to be possible world downhill skating champions. Skill is one thing, but a complete love and respect for the subculture are also good traits to have. This is also good for my skating as the young kids I skate with keep me on my toes and push me to remain as relevant in downhill skateboarding as possible.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning for sure.
What are the top 10 things on your Wishlist?
What’s the last thing you bought?
Beers this morning with my 58-year-old British friend who started skating four years ago and we now meet each other annually at a downhill skateboarding event in Slovenia.
How did you start doing what you do?
I couldn't afford the imported longboards on offer when I started downhill racing in 1999 and attempted making my own in 2000/1. Friends and local skaters started seeing them and asked me to make boards for them too and from there it grew. It's still a daily learning process 15 years later.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?
Be humble in your craft because you can be sure there are people who've tried and are doing what you've done and are willing to impart knowledge. Also, believe completely in the service you're providing. Don't look outward too much because then you're letting competitors dictate your business choices.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep it simple. One big cash injection doesn't exactly mean you now have to go from a tiny office to a huge factory if the demand does not warrant it.
What would you do with a R100 000 investment?
Continue what I'm doing. Exposing holistic skateboarding to kids who would not normally get the chance to experience it. Also, continue producing good quality local boards using locally sourced raw materials.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Our 9-month-old daughter Alba, and a close second is giving Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu a board with his face on it and him signing one for me.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in doing what you do?
Mainly financial. I started Alpha Longboards with nothing and it was a struggle for the most part of the first decade. But there was nothing else I wanted to do so I didn't really question whether I should do it or not. Also, with South Africa being a young democracy, and exposed to the outside world and what they have to offer, our consumers always had an idea that anything imported was always better than what we produced locally. Things are definitely changing though and that's rad.
Which historical figure do you identify with the most?
Steve Biko and his life of Pan-Africanism.
What is your biggest regret?
That I didn't start skating and surfing earlier in my childhood.