Everyone who's toiled thanklessly for a self-righteous slave driver has heard the same old platitude. "Nine to five's when you work on your job. Before and after that's when you work on your career." If such bromides hold weight, Jason Craver's career as a motorcycle parts maker looks bright, indeed.
Just how much does this skateboarder and bike builder from Denver have on his plate? When he's not poppin' ollies and punching the clock for his full-time employer in the Mile High City's skate industry, Jason Craver cranks out hand-fabbed motorcycle taillight brackets, handlebars, foot pegs and sissy bars under his No School Choppers brand. No School Choppers is the quintessential archetype for today's web-based home business, and what Jason's done with it during evenings and weekends is downright amazing.
What did you do before you started No School?
I am pretty much doing the same things I've always done: skating, snowboarding, riding motorcycles, and working full-time. Now I just build and sell parts in my spare time, too.
Is No School full-time or part-time?
No School is part-time. I have a full-time job in the skate industry that I love, and No School fills up my evenings and weekends
Any people help you with your business? If yes, what are their names, and what do they do?
My boy Jeff Clegg is the smartest guy I know, and without him none of this would be possible. My good friend and fabricator Len Dix helps make all my parts come to life. His welding and fabricating skills are untouchable. I just set up a deal with Tyler and Kyle at Lowbrow Customs to sell some of my parts. I am very selective about who carries my parts. I didn’t start No School to get rich. I started it to make the best parts at the best prices, and to surround myself with great people
What new products are on the drawing board?
Oh man, 2010 is going to be bangin’! We have two new handlebars coming out: the Capital Z and the Master Blaster. Both will be available in 1" and 7/8" and are finished in triple chrome plating or gloss black powder coat. I have expanded the Deathtraps foot peg line to feature a platform pedal and also added the Deathtrap kicker and platform kicker to the mix. I have two different styles of twisted sissy bars coming out: one with a license plate and tail light combo. For the skaters we’re coming out with a removable skateboard carrier that bolts to the sissy bar. Finally, we have a new bullet style taillight/license plate combo for the budget-minded builder that will retail under 90 bucks with free shipping
What's the stupidest tech question any potential customer has ever asked you?
The only stupid question is the one not asked. Especially when you are dealing with motorcycle mechanics
What did you learn in high school or college that prepared you for the business you're in today?
I think life was the best preparation for what I do now. Paying attention, following my beliefs, having great parents who taught me the value of hard work and believing in myself. Going to MMI didn't hurt either. But probably the biggest would be skateboarding. Man, I could have gone down the wrong path but I was so focused on skating that it consumed me. It taught me dedication and perseverance. It took me six months to learn a kick flip! That's either dedication, or maybe I just really sucked at skating, which I had not thought about until I just said that…
Looking back, did you blow off anything in school that you wish you’d paid more attention to when you had the chance?
Everything, but machine shop for sure. I love building and fabricating with metal but I did not realize it until about ten years ago. In shop class I was so focused on skating and girls that I just stood there blowing holes in metal with the welder. Stupid!
Any fabricating mentors or inspirations you'd care to mention
Anybody who creates, builds or fabricates is doing his thing, and I respect that. Whether I like their work or not, they are doing what makes them happy and that's what it is all about. As for inspiration that would have to be from everything I see, hear, and do. You never know where a good idea or inspiration will come from, so I try to keep an open mind about everything, every day
Describe an average day in the business life of a small-time motorcycle parts manufacturer/retailer, from the minute you get up to the minute you go to bed
Well I get up and work Monday through Friday 8 to 12 hours a day and give it 110%. When I get home I put on the No School cap and give another 110%. Things aren't worth doing unless you do the best you can every day. I will usually work on No School 2 to 5 hours per day, talking to customers, packing parts, fabricating, designing new parts. When the heavens allow it I like to work on my bikes. It’s a grind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way