Company Interview: Hendrick Boards Rolls Toward Animal Awareness

by Matt Athanasiou

When I see animals ride skateboards, I smile. When I see animals saved with skateboards, I request an interview.

In 2011, David Hendrickson founded Hendrick Boards, a skateboard and apparel company devoted to raising awareness about animal causes. He began the company after rescuing William, a Chihuahua-mix who had been poisoned and was only expected to live a few months. Almost six now, William needs regular procedures but he’s still wagging his tail and inspiring David to sell eco-friendly products, to donate to shelters, and to get more people involved.

And more people have. The television show Glee featured Hendrick Boards in an episode this year, and the company has already gained worldwide recognition, selling products overseas. This humbles David, and he says, “Amazing to think people in Japan are wearing a Hendrick Board shirt with my dog on it just to help.”

Chicago Dog Walkers is privileged to bring you an interview with David.

Congratulations on your one-year anniversary. Pairing skateboards with animals to raise pet awareness is a unique but seemingly odd concept that you have made work. Why do you think this coupling has been successful?

I really think it’s the story we have. My dog is my best friend in the world and being able share his story and show people these animals that are tossed aside a lot, we’re able to save animals, give animals like William a voice. They should be heard. We should save them.

Aside from skateboarding, William’s story initially drew me to your company. He’s ingrained in your website.

He’s the reason I’m here. I’m not here because I did anything. I’m here because seeing his strength. Going through this crazy process with William, this journey, surgery after surgery, touch and go for three years straight. If this little dog, this little six-pound poisoned dog has the strength to make it, then we have the strength to do something about it.

David and William

Why sell skateboard and clothing products instead of pet care products to help animals?

The real reason behind choosing skateboarding, longboarding was: let’s not only give animals a voice, let’s give a whole new crowd of these younger skateboarding kids, that, just like the animals, a lot of people write them off. But they do care, and they’re young and ambitious. And through our boards we’re able to show them that through their sport they can also have a cause. That’s where I really see the power behind Hendrick Boards too, is opening up this whole new group to saving animals and connecting them with their local nonprofit.

Has anyone told you they started skateboarding because of your brand and cause?

I have had older people say they’ve gotten back into it because of Hendrick Boards. One of the guys longboards with his puppy. I love seeing that. It’s so cool seeing people getting back into it simply because we help animals.

I’m sure I can guess this one, but has anyone told you they adopted a pet because of your brand and cause?

[laughs] Definitely. It’s not about just coming and buying a skateboard or t-shirt. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to connect people with their local nonprofit. Not only connecting people. Educating them and getting them to adopt. That’s our ultimate goal. To take these animals out of the shelters.

In an interview with the Examiner, you mention that customers were willing to contribute to your cause despite a difficult economy in 2011. Has this remained the same or has 2012’s economy posed new challenges?

Being a new company we’re always going to have challenges. The thing that is unique about us is it does make people want to buy our product. It’s not only that we give back but we give back in pretty big ways. It’s pretty rare that you can find anywhere that donates ten dollars from every t-shirt [to shelters]. These are things that people are normally going to buy anyways.

Do customers choose which shelter their contributions go to or are there specific ones working with you?

What we do is we create partnerships with nonprofits across the US. Based on shipping addresses we would connect [customers] with their local nonprofit. We’re working with over 150 nonprofits across the US, but we’re always getting people suggesting their favorite, their local, the ones they know. Ninety percent of it is us connecting them with their nonprofit. We’re getting a new crowd, the young people. They know about animal causes, and about shelters but not about the fight that local rescues have to go through every day.

From what I understand you do not have a brick and mortar store. Why stick to online sales?

We’re in retail stores, a few retail skate shops. Breaking into retail is something we’re working into. It’s nothing we want to jump into as a new company. Needs to be a step in the right direction. None of our donations will ever go down. We’re always going to donate this much no matter what. If retail doesn’t fit that, we’re not going to do it.

That’s respectable. Also respectable is your goal to save 10,000 shelter animals by the end of 2012. How close are you to achieving this?

We’re probably close to halfway there. This month will be our biggest month ever in donations. We have some amazing partnerships coming up with some huge people. Not only big names but big organizations. We have one with Animals Asia who is actually fighting bear farming in Asia and all across Europe. We’ve created a special line just for them dedicated to their fight against bear farming. We’re introducing people in the states who didn’t even know. We’re introducing them to a new animal cause.

Besides your website and social media, how do you promote the brand?

We do events with local nonprofits. I volunteer every weekend with a local nonprofit and we blog about it. A lot of it’s organically. Like anyone else finding us they happen to stumble upon us.

The show Glee featured Hendrick Boards on their 2012 spring premiere. How did this come about?

One of their people on set heard about us and told the prop master about us and it just kind of worked its way up. FOX contacted me literally a week before the show was going to air and said they had another company in mind, but they really wanted to use us because we’re a young company, because our ideas and our morals as a company fit Glee. In a little less than four or five days I had to make twenty-three custom skateboards for Glee and eighty shirts and stickers. The whole nine yards, everything. Obviously the pay off was worth it. We’ve been such huge fans. We got to meet the cast. We had all the guys riding our skateboards around the set.

What was the first thing you did when you learned this news?

[laughs] Called my mom. She started crying. I’m a huge momma’s boy, so the first thing I did was call my mom. Then I called my brothers.

What’s the best way for people to contact you?

Facebook. I’m huge on our social media. We do all this ourselves. Say hi on our boards or message us. We respond to every single comment. People can sign up for a newsletter on our website. We try to do one every couple weeks. It doesn’t always happen because we’re doing a million other things, but you can sign up for our newsletter.

David with brothers and co-founders Darren and Donny.

Read more about the company, William’s story, their projects, and purchase products on their website. Also say hi to them on Facebook and Twitter.

Matt Athanasiou writes poetry, nonfiction, scripts, love letters, notes, random words, and fiction, mostly fiction. You can read more about his words on his blog There Was a Matt and follow him on Twitter @mattisnotscary.


Delightful Weather, Delightful Destinations

Warm weather and no place to take your pooch? Fret not. Here’s a short list of dog-friendly places to explore.

Montrose Beach

Location: Wilson Ave and Simonds Dr

Trade walking on hard concrete for a day of sand sifting between your toes and your dog’s paws. Listed as one of the best dog beaches in the U.S. on the Travel Channel website, $5 buys you a tag to enter the dog-friendly areas for the day. The premises are cared for by members of MonDog (Montrose Dog Owners Group), who actively seek volunteers to assist their mission of maintaining a safe place at the beach for pets and their owners.

Jake’s Pub

Location: 2932 N Clark Street

Enjoy suds with a few pals and your pooch at this tavern. Bring in your well-behaved buddy to meet the staff, who are as excited to see a furry friend as they are patrons. If you don’t have a dog or your pet is a little intimidated by public spaces, you can hang out with other dogs here, as the place often has at least one canine ambling around.

Valley Line Trail

Location: trail runs from 4400 W Bryn Mawr to 4400 W Devon

At 1.1 miles long, the trail is a bit short, but it’s an easy destination to seek out. Walkers share the trail with bikers and joggers, but the path is wide enough to give Fido plenty of room to enjoy him or herself. You can park in Sauganash Park and start from there. Trees line the majority of the trail, giving people the illusion of having escaped the city and entered the wilderness. Just ignore the car horns.

Lake County Forest Preserves

Location: 1899 West Winchester Road, Libertyville

Slightly off the beaten path for Chicago, but worth the trip if you want to visit a place with four dog-friendly and off-leash areas. Combined, the four areas have 190 acres of dog bliss. You will hear your dog’s jaw drop when you arrive. The trip is about forty-five minutes from the north side of Chicago, and the grounds open at 6:30 a.m. and close at sunset or 7:00 p.m., whichever comes first. You need to pay a permit price for each dog, but permits are valid for the calendar year. Your dog will thank you while she’s bounding through fields unobstructed by buildings and automobiles and pedestrians.

Trails Abound

Location: Illinois

While the forest preserves listed above has great open areas for dogs, the distance and price can be deal breakers. Luckily there are several lengthy and free trails around Chicago that offer scenic ventures. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has an exceptional list with detailed maps for the curious. Two of the closer ones are the North Branch Trail System, which leads around the Chicago Botanic Garden at its north end and goes through Harms Woods at its south, and the Des Plaines River Trail; the latter runs along Des Plaines River from about North and 1st Ave to Lake Cook Rd. Go old school with a pen and paper or use your computer to begin mapping your alfresco adventures for the summer.

Know any spots for doggies not listed? Share them with us in the comments here, on Twitter, or Facebook.


We found two lists from wonderful Yelpers, who rate a few dog-friendly venues in Chicago. Here’s one and here’s another. Thanks, Yelpers! Woof!

Famous Fidos Part Woof Woof

Our second part in the series, we’re moving away from live-action doggies and focusing on cartoon and comic book canines. While living dogs inspire and entertain us, fictional dogs open our imaginations and often make us wonder about our dogs’ secret lives.


Krypto (Superman)

Breed: Labrador retriever

Why he makes our list: Just being Superman’s dog earns him a spot on this list, but super smell, super hearing, and super vision help. First appearing in the mid 1950s, Krypto literally soars onto the pages of Adventure Comics and chews a steal gun like it is plastic. And are we the only ones excited about walking a flying dog? Forget busy sidewalks and dangerous intersections. Plus, he wears a cool cape.

Notable moment: When he meets Superboy, he proceeds to super-lick him. Good thing slobber isn’t Superboy’s weakness.


Clifford (Clifford the Big Red Dog)

Breed: big red dog

Why he makes our list: Norman Bridwell understood the gifts that come from a devoted relationship between dogs and humans. The relationship between Bridwell’s characters Clifford and his owner, Emily, proves this. Emily chooses Clifford, runt of the litter, on her birthday, and the affection she shows him helps him grow and grow and grow into a towering pooch. Although his size can be intimidating, and the danger of him bounding onto a house is high, we would risk owning him for the chance to climb him and snuggle.

Notable moment: Clifford helps a little dog, Frankie, feel less insecure about his petite size, by telling Frankie that small dogs can hide better and can get into smaller places. All dogs need love, despite their size.


Odie (Garfield)

Breed: beagle

Why he makes our list: The long running gag of Garfield shoving Odie off the table might have you believe Odie is a pushover, but he is actually tempered and intelligent. What other dog can take insults and abuse from a fat orange cat and find it in himself to refrain from eating that cat? An optimist at heart, he has even been caught reading Tolstoy and listening to orchestra. Also, his tongue is never-ending. That means he doesn’t have to jump on you to give you kisses.

Notable moment: Proving he is smarter than Garfield believes, he empties his owner’s, Jon’s, closet of all his clothes except for a single shirt that says Jon loves his cat. Garfield is blamed and tossed outside; Odie laughs at him through the window while wearing Jon’s clothes.


Snoopy (Peanuts)

Breed: beagle (if you don’t ask Snoopy)

Why he makes our list: As Joe Cool, Snoopy wears sunglasses and acts nonchalant; as the Flying Ace, Snoopy pretends to fly his doghouse and have plane fights. Snoopy’s alter egos are one of his biggest appeals. Whether he imagines playing tennis or acting as an attorney, he gives us ideas of what our pooches dream about when they’re waiting for us to play with them. We also wish all dogs had a little yellow bird to pal around with, like Snoopy does with Woodstock.

Notable moment: Charlie Brown makes fun of Snoopy for hiding in his bed from things that go bump in the night. Charlie Brown begins telling Snoopy that he’s not afraid of things in the dark and Snoopy shouts, scaring Charlie Brown out of bed.

Santa’s Little Helper

Santa’s Little Helper (The Simpsons)

Breed: greyhound

Why he makes our list: We love rescued pets, and that’s exactly what Santa’s Little Helper is. Bart and Homer save him from living on the streets, when Santa’s original owner tries abandoning the dog for losing at the racetrack. He has an inordinate amount of energy and likes to chew on most things. His life is far from dull, as he has been a police a dog, a mascot, an ostrich farm dog, and father. All this and he still just wants to play fetch.

Notable moment: Bart tries to convince his teacher that Santa’s Little Helper eats his homework. He puts the homework in his dog’s mouth and Santa’s Little Helper spits it out and smooths the wrinkles. Bart puts food on it and Santa’s Little Helper eats the food and wipes away the crumbs with his tail.

Let us know your list of favorite dogs in the comments below, on Twitter, or Facebook.


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Santa’s Little Helper: