Plans include adding distributors and
selling direct to dealers
AXO Sport, the Italian manufacturer specializing in boots and apparel, that severed its ties with Helmet House, Inc., in Calabasas Hills, Calif., several months ago, is setting up a new U.S. distribution program that includes other distributors plus direct sales to dealers.
AXO Sport SpA, Istrana, is operating in North America as AXO America, Inc. Its North American staff is made up of six employees manning an office and warehouse facility in Valencia, Calif. AXO entered the U.S. in 1985.
“This is a very big step for the AXO brand,” says Alessandra Zago, president of AXO America, Inc. “We have had tremendous success in Europe, Australia and the U.S., and we are excited about the new possibilities of operating our own facility in the U.S.A.”
AXO America credits Helmet House for boosting the AXO off-road line. “Their R&D department, sales force and support staff were able to open new dealers from coast to coast, strengthening AXO’s position within the off-road market,” the importer said in a prepared statement.
Dave Brown is sports marketing director for AXO America, and will assist in building initial sales and processes. Brown was with O’Neal prior to joining Helmet House, where he worked for two years before striking out with former Helmet House employee Chris Stangl, director of sales and marketing for AXO America, to nurture the new deal.
“Stangl was with AXO when it originally came to the U.S. in 1984 with Jim Hale,” Brown told Powersports Business. Hale runs Renthal and Mechanix Wear, Valencia, Calif. “The company under Jim Hale was known as AXO Sport USA, then it went to Helmet House and became AXO USA, and now it is direct and operating as AXO America.”
“When we found out that negotiations with AXO and Helmet House were about to come unglued, Stangl hopped a plane to Italy and started putting together a deal, telling them what we can, what we should do and what we need to do,” Brown explained. “So, Chris was really the main force behind this project.”
Brown said AXO will expand its offerings in 2004, adding cycling and street leathers to its current mix of off-road apparel. He said an “aggressive” promotional plan is currently being discussed.
“We’re going to be taking care of all of the paperwork, shipping and warehousing by ourselves, right here in the facility, which I think is about 3,500 sq. ft.,” Brown said. “In fact, that’s another thing we’re working on right now. The pallet racking is all in there, and we have containers showing up on Monday (Nov. 24, 2003). We’re just trying to figure out how to put it all away. We just designed our new part number system, which will be exclusive for the U.S. — Italy uses an alpha-numerical code — we’re going to be strictly numeric.”
So things will flow seamlessly from Italy to the U.S.? “Far better than it ever has before,” Brown said.
The AXO team also includes Kenny Safford, chief graphic designer; Nicola Serragiotto, treasurer; and office manager Shari Meyers.
AXO was founded in 1978 with the introduction of the Rinaldi, Malherbe and Turbo boots. In January, the firm intends to release its latest offering, the all-new RC-6.
Dealers and distributors interested in carrying AXO product may call 877/296-7223 for the entire AXO catalog, including motocross and bicycling gear, casual wear and, for the first time in the U.S., street leather including an all-new “Supermotard” suit.
WPS Loses Tim Calhoun
Tim Calhoun, brand sales manager at Western Power Sports (WPS), plans to leave the company to head the U.S. operations for Italian exhaust specialist LeoVince.
Calhoun told Powersports Business he will leave WPS in the next month after nearly three years with the company. He said he will begin duties as U.S. brand manager for LeoVince Jan. 1. WPS is based in Boise, Idaho, while Calhoun’s new office will be in the San Francisco area.
Calhoun will be LeoVince’s first official hire in its quest to expand its U.S. market reach. WPS started distributing LeoVince last year, after the exhaust manufacturer’s relationship ended with Georgia-based Indigo Sports.
LeoVince is only one brand name owned by Sito Gruppo Industriale SpA, Monticello d’Alba, Italy, a firm established by Pietro Mollo in 1954.
“The company’s been in the U.S. for six or seven years now, but has only offered what was seen as a sort of OE replacement exhaust for street bikes,” Calhoun said. “You’ll see that change in the coming months, as we begin to roll into a new direction — offering a line of Scoot scooter products as well as what is labeled X3 product for four-stroke off-road bikes, supermotards, etc.
“My job is going to be to tell the story of the company, to put a U.S. edge on it and drive it into the marketplace and make both dealers and consumers aware of it.”
Calhoun said WPS will remain the sole distributor of LeoVince product during the foreseeable future. “We picked them up about a year ago, and have spent that time growing them nationally,” he said. “But, you will see a dramatic increase in advertising of the name in coming months; and, for next year, the plan is to go to the trade shows and to have a presence at the AMA races.”
In other WPS news, the company recently agreed to distribute Fieldsheer products nationwide beginning in February 2004. WPS owner Craig Shoemaker says he signed the Fieldsheer agreement in October, about a month after the distributor’s dealings with Joe Rocket ended.
“Fieldsheer basically has everything Joe Rocket has, except the casual line, which we won’t miss,” Shoemaker told Powersports Business. “We’ve already toured the Fieldsheer factory — their R&D department and their sampling department — and everything looks on the up-and-up.”
“The Fieldsheer product will primarily offer our dealers better price points, better margins,” Calhoun explained. “Being out in the market for the past few years with Joe Rocket, some of our biggest competition came from Alpinestars and Fieldsheer. Alpinestars has a huge sales force whereas Fieldsheer was operating with basically none. So it was really an opportunity to look at them and use our sales experience to bolster the brand.”
WPS operates out of shipping facilities in Boise; Sacramento, Calif.; and Memphis, Tenn. The company employs about 200 people.
Advantage Adds Two
Advantage Performance Distributing, Riverside, Calif., recently added two members to its team, Fred Conover and Richard Watchorn.
Previously head of purchasing for White Brothers, Conover is also an avid motocross and watercraft enthusiast with 20 years of retail experience. Watchorn is the new customer service rep and race support coordinator. A long-time off-road enthusiast and racer, he previously worked as a suspension mechanic for the off-road department at Race Tech.
Moto-Master Signs with White Bros.
White Brothers, Yorba Linda, Calif., has been awarded exclusive distribution rights for the Moto-Master brand of braking products throughout the United States.
Moto-Master, a European performance brake manufacturer headquartered in Holland, provides braking systems for the Super Moto, Dual Sport, Trail, Enduro, Street and ATV markets. Moto-Master products will be available exclusively through White Brothers dealerships nationwide.