Industry Leaders on Ken Block’s Legacy and Influence
Industry leaders spent Tuesday in shock as the action sports community absorbed the sudden passing of Ken Block, co-founder of DC Shoes and Hoonigan, and a champion rally car driver. He passed away Monday, January 2, in a snowmobile accident in Utah.
We reached out to several people who worked closely with Ken over the years and asked them to share their thoughts about Ken as an industry visionary and as a person.
Ken co-founded DC Shoes in 1994 with Damon Way, who had this say about him:
“Losing Ken has been like losing a part of myself,” Damon told SES. “The chapters we wrote together forged the foundation of our lives, transitioning us from inexperienced kids full of idealism, naivety, and a relentless desire to tear down mediocrity in the face of innovation, to adults bearing the battlefield scars of experience spanning decades, and a precisely honed view of the domains we play in and the ideas we bring to them. He was both a partner and mentor, giving me his best over the years of co-creation and collaboration, as we chased down big ideas and white space opportunity, to consistently rewrite industry norms and reshape their histories. He will be dearly missed as a partner, mentor, friend, father, and husband.”
Quiksilver acquired DC Shoes in 2004 and Bob McKnight, the longtime Quiksilver CEO who led the company at the time, was stunned by Ken’s passing:
“The news about Ken Block was certainly a shock to me and everyone at DC and Boardriders,” Bob told SES. “Ken was a great friend, co-founder of DC, a wonderful partner in our business with him, and a great innovator and visionary. He was a truly extraordinarily talented athlete and extreme sport legend, and a uniquely focused, determined and successful creator of social media content. But most of all, he was a loving husband and father to his family and fiercely loyal to his friends. He was charming, witty, always had that sly confident look in his eyes and smile, and was always sure footed and forthright about his imaginations, innovations and ideas, and about their execution. He was a master at his craft of inventing groundbreaking ideas in the action and motor sports theater. Ken will be sorely missed by all. Rest in peace. Thanks for everything.”
Ken went from being a company executive to a sponsored athlete, earning recognition as a champion rally car racer. His Gymkhana videos amassed many millions of views. Monster Energy Drink was a longtime sponsor and he worked closely with Monster to help promote the brand.
“Ken has been part of the Monster Family since 2005,” Chairman and Co-CEO Rodney Sacks told SES. “He was one of our first brand ambassadors and was instrumental in exposing the Monster lifestyle to the world. He embodied it. He didn’t even need to say a word – he just did what he did, and proudly wore the M-Claw. His Gymkhana videos alone have hundreds of millions of views – he was simply a legend. Our love goes out to Ken’s wife and children. We’ll miss you, Ken.”
“This is a very sad day for the Monster family,” added Vice Chairman and Co-CEO Hilton Schlosberg. “We have lost one of our OGs. Ken was one of our first, one of our biggest, and one of our best. And he was a true gentleman. He was a very special individual who pulled off the most incredible feats. Although the man left us far too soon, his name will live on forever. I can’t believe I’m writing these words today – he will be very sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to Ken’s beautiful wife, Lucy, and his amazing children Lia, Kira and Mika. Rest in peace, my friend.”
SIMA Executive Director Vipe Desai was marketing director at Monster Energy Drink in the early 2000s and worked closely with Ken.
“From DC to Gymkhana, Ken paved the way for so many brands and athletes,” Vipe told SES. “A savvy businessman and an elite athlete, he elevated the sports and industries he loved to new levels. I watched his star rise in the early years with DC and then had the opportunity to work with him when his mind-blowing Gymkhana video hit the internet and went viral, racking up millions of views. I would be hard-pressed to find another individual who worked harder than Ken to bridge action sports to motorsports and bring the fans of both cultures together into one big party. Thank you, Ken, for your leadership and the energy you brought to everything you did and everyone you worked with.”
Annie Fast, editor of TransWorld Snowboarding magazine from 2002–2012, explained Ken’s influence in the snowboarding world:
“DC was such an integral part of snowboarding during the 2000s. Ken’s influence with the brand went way beyond the product. It was the top-tier team packed with talent and big personalities and the DC MTN Lab videos that came to define an era in snowboarding perfectly. Ken was the driving force behind all this – the lasting influence of the brand is a testament to his business savvy and his influence on and passion for snowboarding. He lived it and he led it.”
DC Shoes posted this tribute to Ken on Instagram:
“We lost our hero yesterday.”
“Ken Block was not only the co-founder of DC, but he was the personification of everything our brand stands for. Confidence. Creativity. Innovation. Pushing boundaries. Colliding worlds. Ken was a visionary and a pioneer. Our team comes to work every day conscious of the fact that we operate in his shadow, navigate by his compass, and compete with his legacy.”
“Ken’s fearless creativity gave birth to DC. His innovative spirit drove its product design and marketing to heights only imaginable by him. His larger-than-life ambition pushed the brand and this entire industry forward. His relentless energy fueled the creation of DC Snowboarding, Mountain Lab, Gymkhana, Hoonigan, and his many other mind-blowing, groundbreaking, internet-smashing pursuits.”
“Father. Founder. Force of Nature. There is nobody like Ken Block. He is an icon.”
“Our hearts and prayers are with Ken’s family and the many people in the global DC tribe whose lives he touched for nearly three decades. We simply cannot overstate his impact or what a devastating loss this is.”
“Ken will be missed, but certainly never forgotten.”