July 28, 2003 – AXO, Helmet House split

Helmet House, Inc., the exclusive importer and licensee of the AXO line of motocross gear in North, Central, and South America, says it is ending its five-year association with the Italian line.
“Sometimes in business, you do what you have to do, not necessarily what you want to do,” Helmet House owners Bob Miller and Phil Bellomy said in a prepared statement. “The AXO brand has a fine name, reputation, and product line. It opened a lot of doors for us in the motocross segment of the business. We met wonderful people, new retailers, and we learned a great deal. Unfortunately, we couldn’t resolve differences in brand-management philosophy with AXO Italy, which we feel kept us from realizing the full sales potential of the AXO brand in our marketplace.”
Helmet House still has a “significant” inventory of AXO products, so the plan is to continue to service existing customers until supplies run out. Mark Gandy, Helmet House director of products, says the change will allow the firm to place more focus on its four remaining core brands.
Shoei helmets, HJC helmets, Cortech and Tour Master riding gear have all been growing consistently and rapidly, and their sales continue to be up significantly for the first half of this year,” said Gandy. “With AXO, our designs were well-received — our AXO retailers did very well with the line — but the classic ‘irreconcilable differences’ would not go away and we had to let our heads rule our hearts.”
Based in Calabasas, Calif., Helmet House is a full-service national distributor and importer that has served the motorcycle industry for 35 years. The firm maintains a second distribution center in Memphis, Tenn.
Tucker Rocky Holds Retreat
Sales representatives for Tucker Rocky Distributing, Ft. Worth, Texas, assembled in Keystone, Colo., June 27-29 for the distributor’s yearly ATV Retreat and QuadBoss product review.
Appearing from all corners of the nation, the reps took time to learn more about Tucker Rocky’s ATV-related QuadBoss product for 2004. Vendors showcasing at the event included Progressive Suspension, FMF, Warn, K&N, ITP, Motion Pro, Maxxis, Big Gun, Scott USA, Cycle Country, Dunlop/Goodyear, Swisher, Kwik Tek and Answer/MSR.
Participants were outfitted with QuadBoss gear for a Rocky Mountain ATV ride — machines supplied by Colorado’s Fay Myers Motorcycle World and Sun Enterprises, Inc. — prior to questioning the vendors about their product.
K&N. Rep Larry Coleman took advantage of the event’s timing to exhibit the latest product to come from the air-filter professionals: the ATV Powerlid.
“The first thing a rider does to an ATV is try to get more air into the airbox. So what we’ve done is made a device that will get more clean cool air into the air box, allowing for greater power gains,” Coleman said of the units, which are not yet priced but expected to be available by mid-September.
Coleman also asked that Tucker Rocky reps attempt to move P.O.P. material — catalogs, mini brochures, hanging mobile signs, window signs, oil filter counter displays and a Web site listing on www.knfilters.com — to influence brand recognition and increase sales.
WARN. “The 2.5 winch is a Tucker Rocky rep’s bread and butter,” Warn’s Patrick Storm told assembled reps. “It takes the place of the old A2000 and, for the same price point, you get a new waterproof contactor that can be placed virtually anywhere and 500 more pounds of pulling power.”
Storm says the Warn A2000 represented “probably 66%” of Tucker’s Warn winch sales, whereas the new 2.5 now carries “about 90%” of their sales.
Storm also showed the Warn 3.0, an all-new 3000-lb. winch with a roller fairlead, a mountable rocker switch, a hand-held remote and a lifetime warranty. Destined to replace the A2500 — which accounts for about 10% of Warn’s sales, according to Storm — the 3.0 will sell for about $20 more than the A2500.
ITP. Stressing that availability will likely earn more business than price, ITP Vice President Craig Petersen boasted that his firm’s fill rates are currently at about 98%. He also talked of expanding the radial line of ATV tires for 2004, explained how the Mud Lite is the fastest-selling tire in the company’s history, and discussed ITP’s new SandStar dual channel dune tire.
“Sand tires represent a market that’s out there, but that we haven’t been in,” Petersen said, “and it’s actually a larger market than I initially thought.” Tucker has made its order for the SandStar tires, and Petersen said he hopes to begin shipping the product by the end of July.
PROGRESSIVE. Brian Cornelius, an independent sales rep for Progressive Suspension, advises dealers to “mention suspension” when a consumer comes in for service — and especially if the vehicle suffers from worn tires or is outfitted with a plow mount.
Cornelius, who left K&N last year to begin his own independent rep firm, Empire Sales & Marketing (also carries JT Sprockets and High Flow filters), says most consumers don’t recognize Progressive as a quad-related company.
“Progressive has been around for a long time, and is really successful in the cruiser market, but there have been several dealers I’ve talked with who didn’t even know we had the ATV product,” he explained. “But with a little bit of extra effort, we can get dealers aware. Think about the auto industry, where shocks are constantly recommended. Maybe that’s what we should be doing, too.”
Cornelius also described Progressive’s Front Spring Kit with Preload Adjustment available for all MacPherson strut-equipped ATVs, the firm’s 512 Series shocks for utility quads, and the company’s planned entry into the off-road motorcycle and ATV markets with its updated 5th element bicycle suspension.
FMF. Although Doug Muellner, FMF’s national sales manager, talked of his firm’s two-stroke and four-stroke pipes, 909 controls (including Masher handguards, bars and clutch levers), seat covers and graphics, muffler packing, P.O.P., and new pipes for the Kawasaki V-Force and Polaris Predator, he spent the majority of his time discussing his firm’s utility-flavored units.
“The Powerline is what the utility guy wants because he can run it in water and doesn’t have to repack it,” Muellner said of FMF’s four-stroke offerings, the new Q muffler, Titanium 4 and MegaMax.
FMF also has exhaust systems in production for Yamaha’s new 2004 YFZ-450 sport ATV. The company’s Titanium 4 muffler, FMF titanium PowerBomb header combo are said to supply a 5hp gain and, at 9,000 rpm, nearly a 7hp gain. While the stock system weighs in at 9-3/4 lbs., Muellner says the FMF Ti-4 and PowerBomb header weigh in at a mere 5lbs. — a 48% decrease in overall weight.
“We may be best known for our applications for two-wheelers, but we take quads seriously,” Muellner said. “And, as you see with the new system for the KFX and YFZ, our R&D department is really starting to roll on the product offerings.”
SCOTT USA. “The only place we’re really getting our ass kicked by Oakley is in fashion,” says Primo Marotto of Scott USA. “ But, as far as function and performance, I don’t think there is a goggle company out there that can hold a candle to us.”
Marotto explained the benefits of each of the Scott USA goggles — among them, the Voltage, High Voltage, and best-selling 1089 and Voltage R — demonstrated the brand’s flexible lens and frame; showed a self-tinting lens (to amp blue in seconds); and talked of the firm’s new anti-stick roll-off lens protector, the Quick-Strap for trail riders, and the return to 5mm tear-offs.
BIG GUN. A newcomer to Tucker Rocky, Big Gun Exhaust was the new guy on the block at the ATV Retreat — set up directly opposite Tucker-Rocky’s other exhaust specialist, FMF.
“Our company started in 1997 with an emphasis on four-stroke power and making things for four-strokes,” said Big Gun’s Mike Leighton. “Other companies have only recently put a lot of development into this category; whereas we already have it all figured out.”
Big Gun exhausts are manufactured with an inner and outer ceramic coating to keep the pipe’s look up and help the engine run cooler, and every Big Gun exhaust currently made is U.S. Forest Service spark arrestor approved.
“Plus, with our pipes,” Leighton says, “you can convert back and forth from Race Series to Quiet Series with the simple exchange of the core. The only real difference between the pipes is the internals, and those can easily be switched with only an allen key.”
Other Big Gun products Leighton suggests dealers look into include an upcoming system for the KFX700; a Raptor 80 pipe that also fits the Badger 80; the Rev Box, a device to re-map a bike’s ignition curve; and muffler repack kits.
Sidi/Motonation Offer Racing Boots
Italy’s Sidi Sport SRL and Motonation LLC, Poway, Calif., have acquired the worldwide assets of Set Up Racing Boots. Under this new deal, Sidi will take over manufacturing Set Up boots while Motonation plans to handle distribution of the brand in the U.S. market.
Sidi Sport SRL is the manufacturer of “Sidi” branded motorcycle boots and bicycle shoes. Motonation LLC is the exclusive importer of Sidi motorcycle boots in the U.S., but also serves as a partner with Sidi Sport SRL in the development of the brand in North America.
Sidi says it has been reluctant to lend its brand name to products that do not completely meet its high quality standards or that are offered at lower price points, claiming such practices “cheapens the impact and value” of the Sidi brand. However, as a distributor, Motonation wanted to have products at all price points.
Working together, the two firms considered many ideas, including creating a new brand or acquiring an existing brand if it became available.
An answer to the dilemna came when Set Up Racing Boots founder Giuliano Gazzola contacted Sidi Sport SRL about forming a partnership. Gazzola had been selling his Italian-made boots directly to consumers via the Internet for prices he advertised were “equal to the Far East.”
Some Set Up models will be partially manufactured by Sidi; others will be built in contracted facilities outside of Italy in order to reach the targeted price points.
White Bros. Signs Alloy MX
White Brothers, Yorba Linda, Calif., says it has become the exclusive distributor of product from Alloy MX, a firm that designs and manufactures a line-up of performance apparel and complimentary sportswear for the motocross and ATV markets.
The agreement will provide White Brothers the exclusive rights to distribute the complete Alloy MX line in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and Japan.
White Brothers plans to begin sales and distribution of the 2004 Alloy MX product line in September.

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