Jan. 19, 2004 – LaBonge leaves Intersport Fashions

Denis LaBonge, long-time president of Intersport Fashions West, the Tustin, Calif. purveyor of Firstgear, Schuberth, Gericke and Held brands, left his position Dec. 31, to make room for new leadership placed by IFW’s new owner, The Fairchild Corporation.
LaBonge and Rick Miller sold IFW to German firm Eurobike in 1999. In October 2003, Eurobike, a management holding company of 20 retail and wholesale businesses, sold its group operations — including IFW — to The Fairchild Corp. of Dulles, Va.
“Without a doubt, it has been a terrific, very rewarding and very enjoyable career,” LaBonge said when announcing his plan. “When Rick and I sold the company in 1999, we signed on for five years to guide IFW to the next level. As one of the famous Dr. Suess books reads, ‘The time has come and the time is now.’ So, off I go.”
LaBonge turned over management of the business to a new team appointed by Fairchild. He says he hasn’t made any specific plans for the future, but says he plans to advise and counsel new IFW leadership for “awhile.”
Engaged in the aerospace distribution business, The Fairchild Corporation began in 1920 as the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation and soon grew to be a supplier of fighter planes and other aircraft during World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.
Recently, Fairchild’s interests have focused on fasteners, parts distribution to the aviation aftermarket, power transmission products, telecommunication and other industrial products such as tooling for the plastics industry. Eric Steiner is the president of The Fairchild Corporation, and is now CEO of the Fairchild subsidiary that acquired Hein Gericke, PoloExpress and IFW.
“IFW’s dealers can expect more of the best from IFW,” LaBonge told Powersports Business in late December. “We will continue to bring (customers) innovative riding gear and products as we have for over 25 years. In addition, Fairchild and Rick Miller and I have been in the process of adding staff to IFW with veterans from the motorcycle industry. We are in the process of getting them on board now and will release the line up in a few weeks.”
LaBonge began his career in the powersports industry with Racecrafters International in the late 1960s. He then served a seven-year stint at Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, as product development manager before joining Miller with the company that eventually became IFW.
While his post-IFW future remains unclear, LaBonge says he is determined to stay close to the motorcycle industry. “Who wouldn’t after the great times we have all enjoyed and with such an optimistic future for the industry?”
Kimpex U.S.A. has consolidated all its telemarketing and inside sales functions at its head office in Champlain, N.Y.
A staff of 10 presently works from the site while outside sales reps cover the Snow Belt running from Maine to Minnesota. The Shakopee, Minn., warehouse will continue to serve Midwest dealers with snow and ATV products, and Kimpex expects there to be no interruption in services. Kimpex says the staff move was made to better serve its dealer network.
Promoted to National Sales Director, Allan Keswick heads the newly placed sales force. Keswick has more than 15 years experience in the North American powersport market and was in charge of Kimpex’s Eastern U.S. Sales Division since May 2003.
Tim Calhoun may have ended his stint at Idaho-based Western Powersports to head the U.S. operations for Leo Vince, but his former employer still plays a major part in Calhoun’s life as the distributor for the Italian exhaust brand.
Look for Calhoun at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, where he’ll be in the WPS booth or in the Italian trade area.
While Calhoun says he hasn’t had time to figure out a complete game plan for Leo Vince’s U.S. operations in ’04, he told Powersports Business he will begin to make plans after a series of meetings ending Jan. 25.
“That’s when I’ll have a five-year budget plan and a much more clear cut view of what we’re going to do,” he said. “Right now, I’m searching for office space in San Francisco, pursuing racers, looking at advertising budgets, and developing retail display tactics.
“We’re definitely going to have to have a much larger retail presence than we have in the past, so I’m looking at the rep level, to see what it is I have to do to motivate those guys; I’m looking at the dealer level, to see what I can do to make them excited about the brand; and then I’m going to go out and show the product to riders and tell them about the great Italian brand we have here.”
Calhoun also will be busy working with Sito Gruppo Industriale SpA, Leo Vince’s Italian owner, to form Sito Group USA, which will ultimately represent the manufacturer’s three brands — SBK for sport bikes, Scoot for scooters, and the X3 four-stroke off-road line — plus Silvertail, which has two different stainless steel systems and a chrome system for metric and American-made cruisers.
If you miss Calhoun at Indy, write to him care of Leo Vince at 5445 South Zonetailed Way, Boise, Idaho 83716, or e:mail him at tfcalhoun@msn.com.
Motonation’s 2004 catalog is now available, and includes all the equipment offered by Sidi and Set Up, as well as the trick Wacker handguards.
Catalogs are currently being mailed. To receive a copy, call 877/789-4940 or write to Motonation at 14168 Poway Rd., Ste 205, Poway, Calif. 92064
Brad Henton began serving as a sales account Representative for Bridgestone’s U.S. and Canadian motorcycle markets on Jan. 1 Henton served Bridgestone as a motorcycle sales and race support coordinator at Performance Tire Service Company in Indianapolis, Ind., for the past three years. He will remain based in Indianapolis and report directly to Bob Graham, motorcycle product manager for Bridgestone. Henton will work closely with Bridgestone distributors and dealers to develop new sales through an array of support services, including attendance at trade shows and expos.
Pierre Elliot has high hopes for 2004. The CEO of Diamond Power Sports Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: DPWS) says he began his Boca Raton, Fla., accessories manufacturing and marketing business in 1992 with 50 local customers, but now has over 10,000 worldwide. At that rate, he said he expects sales to double in 2004 to close to $2 million.
In the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2003, sales were $713,164, operating income was $11,665 and net loss was $8,966 due to interest expense of $20,631.
Elliot says Diamond manufactures over 200 motorcycle parts for the aftermarket motorcycle industry. The company markets its own Flame Sliders, lowering links, and footpegs, and distributes motorcycle tires, valves, and other parts, accessories and apparel.
Dowco, Inc., Manitowoc, Wisc. launched a new brand strategy and says it is consolidating several existing brands into its Guardian motorcycle cover brand, which will become the dominant brand for all of its powersports products, including motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile and PWC covers and motorcycle luggage.
New packaging, a new tagline — “Play for Keep” — and new logo have been created. The new approach seeks to develop a strong connection with the passion and enthusiasm of powersports participants, Dowco said.
In the first phase of the brand rollout, Dowco’s Guardian cover becomes GuardianWeatherAll Plus. The Protector line has been renamed Guardian WeatherAll; its Legend Line becomes Guardian UltraLite.
Dowco plans to officially roll out its new brand strategy at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Feb. 14–16. New product is scheduled to arrive at dealerships in Spring 2004.
NC Sales, Inc., Maywood, Ill., says it is now the exclusive North American importer and distributor of motorcycle communications products from Germany-based Baehr Communication Systems. NC Sales, Inc./National Cycle, Inc., says it plans to show its entire product line from booths 913 and 919 at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Feb. 14-16.
Freestyle aficionado Travis Pastrana signed a two-year deal with Thor Racewear.
Recuperating from injuries, Pastrana will appear to greet fans and sign autographs at the Thor team truck in conjunction with Parts Unlimited hospitality functions during upcoming Supercross events.

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