Rob Pace is a global name in Skateboarding, known to Skate the heaviest rails on offer, he also happens to be a Mechanical Engineer working for a family business on the central coast. We spoke to him to hear how he spends his spare time, his journey to become a mechanical engineer and how travelling the world as a professional skater has affected his family business.
VWW was built on a foundation of creative liberation. What’s one way you express yourself creatively?
Using the scrap steal at my work, I’ve built an off-road pod camp trailer that I plan to take around Australia.
Tell us a bit about what work you do and your qualification.
I work for my family-owned excavator attachments Company. I work with demolition, forestry and agricultural equipment. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade.
How old were you when you started your trade?
I was 17.
Who showed you the ropes?
My old man for sure, he’s self-taught. I’ve been working with him since day one.
What does the family business specialise in? Any images or videos you want to share?
Our most recent attachment we’ve been focusing on, are our telescopic arms. They’re used for extracting dirt out of large basements, mainly for large buildings in the City. We modify the excavators to accommodate such a large attachment and in some cases, we attach huge counter weights so the machines don’t tip over.
Anything you are privately building right now?
I’m currently building my off-road camp trailer. It’s at the painting stage. Super excited to use this soon.
Can you use much of the large scale machinery? What’s the biggest thing you have controlled?
Yeah, I’ve driven many large excavators. The biggest was a 90-tonne excavator.
You recently turn Pro for Santa Cruz and it looks like you are on the road a lot. How does your Dad deal with you not being around?
Yeah, definitely the most I’ve been away from work recently. He’s dealing with it pretty good. He’s super supportive with my skating , so works perfect for me.
Are there any jobs that only you can do and how do they deal with it when you are away?
The technical drawings for our CnC profile cutter. I take my laptop with me on the road and every now and again, I’ll do the drawings while I’m out skating. Also, all the technical machining work. Mainly anything with tight tolerances that requires the use of our lathe or milling machine, I’d normally do. When I’m away for this they send the work to a local machine shop
Have you ever been on a Skate tour but had to be working at the same time, sending back digital drawings?
Yes. I’ve done a bunch of CAD drawing while I’ve been in the van.
I’ve known you to land in OZ after a Skate tour and go straight to work for a couple days, straight to get back on track for the Biz. How do you switch gears from tour life, to being back in the factory?
I really enjoy what I do for work, so it’s easy for me. I love building stuff out of metal so it always feels good to be back.
Ever thought of fabricating your own skate trucks?
Hahaha no I haven’t but sounds like a fun idea.
You also Snowboard really well… do you get much time to board considering work and the demands of your Skate career?
Not a lot of time on the snowboard these days.. when I was younger, I was boarding all the time. Too much fun.
Give us a glimpse of 12 months for yourself. Its sounded pretty wild on the phone the other day. I don’t know how you manage to be at the top of the skate game with everything you have going on.
The last 12 months has been super hectic. I’ve been on back to back skate tours with Santa Cruz, Volcom, Thrasher and Young Henry’s.I went to Belco Bowl Jam and in the middle of all this, have been trying to get my camp trailer done and keep everyone at work happy.
What is your favourite VWW piece? And can you work and ride in it?
I’ve been loving the Caliper Pant - it’s super durable and for what I do, works perfectly.
What are a few of your favourite features on those products?
For what I do, I need something super durable but also something that’s comfortable with stretch the Caliper Pant ticks all them boxes and I’ve been loving them.
What initially drew you to Volcom?
I’ve always loved the brand as a kid growing up. It was cool to see one brand doing it all - surf , skate, snow and now work wear. I guess I’ve always been attracted to it. Volcom makes clothes for all the sickest sports that I enjoy.
We have some friends that treat certain tools like their own children. What’s your relationship like with tools?
Yup, definitely treat mine like children haha. I don’t like sharing my tools with people. There is nothing more annoying than not being able to find the tool you need.
What’s your best tradie hack!?
One that I use all the time. If you’ve ever used a grease tube, instead of trying to pull the plastic cap off to open it, that’s usually quite hard and annoying to remove. If you karate chop the Center of the tube it’ll open straight up.
What’s your morning ritual before work. Any food & coffee in particular?
I normally just have eggs on toast and water. I’m not a coffee drinker.
If you get a day off to do anything you desire, no Skating, no Engineering. Where are you heading?
Probably the Watagan State Forrest to explore on my dirt bike.
What’s the most hours you’ve worked straight?
I’ve done 24hrs before. Had an emergency repair to do and we were short staffed. It was absolutely brutal haha.
What would you say to an aspiring Pro Skater about getting some qualifications behind them?
Would say it’s super important learning skills in the workplace. Having them to fall back on after skating is a great way to look out for yourself.