The state of the industry with Willie McMillon

14 Jun, 2009

Times are rough in the snowboard industry where each day we hear of companies cutting employees, pro riders getting dropped and shops going under but what about companies working hard to survive and still giving the fans an opportunity to love a product?

Owner of Bluebird Wax, Willie McMillon is trying to stay afloat during these times, offering up rad giveaways that even poor people can afford and with many changes in store, there’s a lot to be discussed on the state of the industry with Willie McMillon.

Photo: Stephanie Peterka

Shay:   Recently Bluebird became free of investors, why the change and how do you feel about it?

Willie: We spent 8 years with them. They provided money, knowledge, resources and a warehouse. Ray taught me everything I know about business. He also taught me how to gamble. He got me into blackjack at our first trade show together. You have to be a good gambler to be a good business man. A responsible, profitable gamblin’ man. Anyway, the past 8 years were preparation for what I’m doing today. We had limitations working with them, and we have limitations doing this shit out of my basement on our own. I think we are running our own version of a tight ship. Ray taught me business. I already knew how to have fun running a company. Now I am just combining the two. Business in the front, party in the back. Enjoy the show.

Shay:  What are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

Willie:  Same in every Industry.  There’s some real shit, then there’s some shit that’s really shitty.  You know who you are .  The kids know who you are.  The real shit’s about to make a comeback. DUCKMOTHERFUKKRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

Shay:  How is Bluebird holding up during these economic times?

Willie: If I fuck up one thing, I’m done. We are tight on cash. So I am training in the art of “Making Something out of Nothing”. But it’s the same with snowboarding for me. I’m gonna do this shit forever whether I’m getting paid or not. And I’m not afraid to fuck up. Because that’s how you learn for real.. And I’ve got roughly 12 years of fuck ups since this brand started. I know a lot of “What not to do’s” I’m working on the “To Do’s”

When times are tough, work harder. Don’t sit around and whine. This is a changing of the guard. Companies are dropping like flies.

And certain people will be prosperous. I see this economic situation as nothing but opportunity. People are spending money more wisely. And if your brand ain’t for real, bubba-fuckin-bye. I am just doing everything I possibly can to keep this thing alive. It’s gnarley work. But satisfying as all hell.

Shay:  What are the challenges you are facing and how do you overcome them?

Willie:  Money.  People say it doesn’t grow on trees.  But I beg to differ. Your business is your tree.  You water it and nurture it and it will be fruitful and/or grow money.

How’s that saying go?   “You grow the plant, then you fuck the plant.”  But in a nice sensual kinda way.  With Ranch and Buffalo Jerky.

The kids entering the T.Rice Mega GiveAway are the ones truly keeping us in business right now.   The truth is. I will do my best to take care of all my homeys the best I can.

Shay:  If an ex team member calls you up and wants a block of wax, your answer is….

Willie:  Id be like “Fuck you Clancy”  That’s right Clancy, you’re cut.  No more free keychains for you.

Shay:  What were the reasons behind doing the Bluebird Trice Giveaway?

Willie:  When our investors let us go, we were left with no money. But a ton of product I owed a ton of money for. I also acquired 2 of Rice’s next year’s boards from LIB.

Travis and I decided this might be a way to pay off the product, hook up some kids, and also get some momentum during slow months. We are in the planning stages of a new GIVEAWAY. We are going to fly one kid out to Jackson During Natural Selection2 and give him a taste of the good life. He will go home a sinner.

Now we are at the point where I am making new shit for the contest packages. We actually ran out of shit. We also have some dope ass companies sending us product to hook the kids up with. Right now we have tons of Clancy’s DVDs, some are signed. We are getting some skate decks. Also some outerwear. And mad IAM tees.  We are getting new shit all the time. One of a kind hats, just shit the team and I have been making in the basement. My girl’s been making us some dope shit too.

I’m actually going to raid Rice’s garage next week while he is out of town. Look out for the episode! Kids are gonna get some crazy shit.

Shay: Do you feel the contest is a success?

Willie: We have accomplished everything we set out to do. And then some. I hope the kids are stoked. We really need people to spread the word. We are hooking mad kids up, and the kids are keeping Bluebird Alive.
We aren’t trying to get rich, we are trying to stay around. And this season is the most crucial.

Shay: What’s new coming up for Bluebird?

Willie: We are starting a new movie this winter. Running Giveaways. Making random shit. And shredding our nuts off. And maybe buying a new Van. Hopefully the kids are stoked and they keep us in business. Without your support, we are done.

Thanks for supporting the Real Shit.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. June 14, 2009

    Awsome interview dude… definately motivated me to buy a second box when my next paycheck comes… Willie the first box was sick, can’t wait to see what comes in #2

  2. Hanh
    June 14, 2009

    greatest interview i read on this site!!! good work shay and awesome for willie, im on my second box and waiting for it in the mail, if its dope i might just go for the hat trick, but my female companion is gonna kick my ass for sure

  3. Hanh
    June 15, 2009

    i just saw your ad selling a capita shapeshifter from back in like 06… what happened man that was hot shit… just kidding, if you ever come across one again feel free to send it to me

  4. Chris
    June 15, 2009

    Is there any way to order one of the Bluebird wax boxes to Canada? I checked the site but as far as I can tell it’s just not possible? So stoked on this interview, the industry needs more people like him behind the business.

  5. Butress
    June 15, 2009

    I’m just a casual snowboarder, that hits the snow a fraction of the days I wish I could, but guys like the Mr. McMillion and the guys participating in the giveaway are part of why I love to snowboard and the culture that surrounds it. It’s about the love, the fun, the who gives a f***, lets ride. Keep bringing it and it will come back around. You can’t help but support passionate folks having fun and sharing the stoke. Peace.

  6. Teddy
    June 15, 2009

    Got my box in on Saturday. Wasn’t totally awesome, but wasn’t terrible. It was worth the eventual $40 after shipping, although I’m not sure if I’ll be rocking the T’s.

    The Jackson Hole magazine is great reading on the toilet material, and the paper for the print is pretty expensive stock.

    But in the end it was to support bluebird and make sure they keep on coming along. Now I have enough wax from bluebird, oneballjay, and Dakine to figure out which I like best and will continue to have my moola in the future.

  7. Blah
    June 15, 2009

    Got my box in on Saturday too. Wasn’t too stoked by what I received after all the hype surrounding it. Barely got any wax (2 bars and 1 rub on) to get an idea how their core product will compare to the competition.

    I doubt I’ll be rocking the T’s unless I forget to do laundry for 2 weeks. I guess it was worth the $40 after shipping though. It just felt like the shipping for later orders was subsidizing hooking people up from prior orders. Just left a bad taste in my mouth paying for 7.5 lbs of shipping while receiving 3.5 lbs of stuff.

    I’ll just look at it as another squandered marketing opportunity where Blue Bird could’ve generated product awareness and momentum behind the company to survive the current economic conditions. Let’s hope that the next gimmick that they come up with is better planned.

  8. Ali
    June 16, 2009

    I am also in Canada and would love to get stuff from Bluebird. But unfortunately right now it seems like they are having trouble with Canadian customs. The guys at Bluebird actually lost money to ship me an order recently (that is how much they care for their customers.) But in their current state they can’t afford to keep doing that. So get some friends together and make a bulk order and bite the bullet on the customs, let ’em know you will pay the custom fee. Support this company in Canada they are definitely worth keeping around in this industry.

    Cheers Shay for the interview.

  9. June 16, 2009

    I’m really bummed on some of the responses to the contest. All we are trying to do here is stoke kids out and re-start the company. These kids aren’t realizing that we can’t hook up the kids all the same. We are trying our best. Some days we don’t have a ton of shit here. Other days, like today, we have a ton of stuff we grabbed from Rice’s house. The very last thing we are trying to do is trick people. Also we are trying so fucking hard to stay alive right now. I work over 100 hours a week on this company. I don’t have a life outside of it. Everything I got goes into this. So when some kids talk shit about it, it fucking destroys me. Or especially when some kid is claiming we are doing something shady or for marketing. Let me tell you, if we hooked up all the kids that hard we would go under before we got going. But every 5 or 10 orders, we really try to stoke some kid out. Obviously these kids don’t know a thing about us and are not a part of this stoke. Sorry you only got $100 worth of shit for $25. That’s a real shame. So with that said. I want to thank everyone who supports us and who actually gets what we are trying to do. And to all you spoiled little un-grateful kids, (which I have sent a second box to all the whiners, hopefully to shut you up.) you are not the kids we are looking for. And for the people who get it and show us love, hopefully we can stick around to keep trying to stoke you out. I want to thank from the bottom of my cold heart, all the true Bluebird supporters out there. Fuck all the haters.

    Mad love and respect to all of you. (even the whiners)
    Willie McMillon

  10. June 17, 2009

    Shit, the stuff in the box is a fucking bonus. Break it down like this:

    You bought a goddamn raffle ticket for $25 (+s/h)

    You got a bunch of shit in the mail (= more than $25+s/h)

    Most importantly- you supported a real company that claimed independence and freed themselves from investors/sponsors.

    The bird is the word.

  11. Terry Haakonsen
    June 17, 2009

    anyone who disses Willie or bitches about their box (which is a raffle ticket like dood said) is an AIDS soaked buttplug. I hope none of these whiney bitches wins the contest (hint hint pull their names Willie).

  12. June 17, 2009

    I ordered one box, was very happy with what I got and Willie told me later he didn’t even pack it himself so it was rad stuff without Willie putting it in there.

    The person who put blah, it’s a bummer to see they didn’t like what they got. The giveaway was a great idea and every got various stuff, stoked on what they got. Some people just expect more.

    I hope a true deserving person wins the Trice boards. Someone that really wants them, supports the company.

    Kdubble…good job breaking it down I totally agree with you. The value is there, some people just can’t see it. If people need a block of wax that bad, send me your address and I’ll send you my extra’s. Or actually buy a block of wax.

    Hanh. I know I know…I shouldn’t have sold the shapeshifter, it would have been a great board to keep around. Unfortunately I was dating a loser who couldn’t hold a job and had to sell it to pay rent…part of the shred living eh!

  13. June 18, 2009

    Super stoked on my box, so I ordered another. I’ve worn my t-shirt 3 time already, and I have clean laundry. You guys are idiots.
    Thanks Willie

  14. lisevolution
    June 18, 2009

    Willie you the man dude for real! I’m about to go hit up the site and grab a box myself just to support the company. I’m sure none of the tees will fit and I definitely don’t need the wax but to keep a true company alive $25 is well worth it! Keep doing your thing and producing the best wax around. Shay, another great interview to keep us stoked in the offseason. Good work and keep em coming.

  15. June 18, 2009

    Here’s the latest video which shows of the raid of Travis’ House and all the goodies that might get shipped out to you plus a new giveaway.

  16. June 18, 2009

    Since this interview was posted, we have seen so much love from our true customers. We are going to do everything in our human power to keep you all stoked. I’m so stoked to read emails from you people. From our people. The positive response from you is what keeps me going. I’m seriously going insane running this company right now. And all you guys and girls are the ones who make it worth it to me. I also want to apologize for some of the packages we had to use. I was digging through dumpsters early this morning looking for boxes to send this stuff in. Some of your boxes might smell like Dominoes pizza. Or beer. We are doing our best. Hang with us.

  17. Butress
    June 18, 2009

    if you are willing to pack someone’s old, used, abused, dirty dumpster box, someone will open it… 🙂 if you fill the box with beer and pizza first, is it easier to pack?

    I’m still laughin’ at this, btw. Quote from above:

    “Business in the front, party in the back. Enjoy the show.”

    McMullet Wax! You like what you see?

  18. June 18, 2009

    Awesome ! I love it. All of it. Great interview. Good job Shay ! VIVA LA FEMBOT !


  19. June 18, 2009

    I personally like the smell of pizza and beer. Hmm that gave me an idea.

    It’s great to hear the interview has helped with the love and getting more support to keep Bluebird alive.

    Butress, there are always great willie quotes

  20. June 20, 2009

    Hell yeah Willie. Kudos to you amigo. Good work Shay!

  21. Good Stuff
    June 21, 2009

    Ordered a box and got the same amount of stuff as Blah. Definitely a good deal than going out to store and buy some of these stuff off the shelf for retail prices. Got me stoked enough to order a second box! Thanks Willie!

  22. Lisevolution
    June 26, 2009

    I just got my box yesterday and it’s was packed out… T-Shirts, DVD’s, Stickers and Wax. Definitely stoked and worth every penny

  23. Mark G.
    July 07, 2009

    Nice interview. Willie is the man, a true snowboarder’s snowboarder. As someone who is 31 with a career and still riding, I wish I had the balls to do my own thing to the extent Willie does. Also, my box was packed with tons of sick shit. I ordered two more and will probably get another to help support the real shit.
    Willie, keep up the good work and don’t listen to those bitch-ass crybabies!

  24. July 07, 2009

    I just watched the Adam Dowell pack my box video here which is hilarious and rad someone got gloves and outerwear, gotta be stoked on that!

    I need to order another box, been slacking lately.

    Keep it up Willie!

  25. August 21, 2009

    fuck yeah, willie! i was stoked on my box. the above whiners are just a bunch of pussies that were bummed no burton t-shirts arrived in their boxes.

    crazy bang for the buck.

  26. August 21, 2009

    and see you in utah, i hope.