Legendary skateboard pad maker, “Wild” Bill Walker, the founder of Pro Designed Inc., has gone to the skatepark in the sky.
A quirky character and craftsman of the highest quality, Wild Bill had been making his beefy yet beautiful pads for decades. For may skaters, they were the best of the best.
Of any skateboard company, Pro Designed was probably the most closely associated with its owner. If you called the company, you talked to Wild Bill. He started Pro Designed in 1986, just as skateboarding underwent a new boom period. The pads were also popular among rollerskaters, including roller derby types.
“The greatest padmaker on the planet has put in the last stitches ,” Jesper Andreasen, owner of the Danish skateboard company Brodega posted on Facebook. “For 3 decades this master craftsman has handsewn the best pads in the world to keep people safe.”
Pro skater Ben Schroeder, who was sponsored by Pro-Designed for decades, had this to say on his Instagram feed: “Bill revolutionized Skate-pads and in turn helped the revolution of Skateboarding. We would have to put on two sets of Rector kneepads they were so thin But when Pro’s from Texas came to town wearing P.D.’s – the padding 4 times as thick as rectors with deep density – all Vert skaters had to have them. It was a Total Game Changer. Made so much more possible. And of course other companies eventually caught on to what Bill had done and followed suit.”
Pro Designed, based in Texas, wasn’t like other mass-marketed pads. When you ordered a set, you had to provide detailed measurements of the appendage you hoped to protect, and often spend a few hours on the phone with Bill talking it through. It might require a few follow-up calls to find out where your order was in the mysterious works of the Pro Designed factory – or to remind him you placed an order.
Many pro skaters since then have worn Pro Designed pads, including the likes of Tony Hawk and Steve Alba…the list goes on.