By Neil Pascale
Scorpion Sports Inc., an aftermarket company known for its helmets, is seeking to expand business with a second warehouse location and a much more aggressive push into apparel.
The Lake Forest, Calif,-based company is launching its first big foray into apparel this winter with a line of jackets and gloves oriented toward male sport-bike riders. The line will grow in diversity and overall selection next spring with the introduction of products geared toward women. A third phase of ScorpionExoWear is scheduled for fall 2008.
Scorpion has had some casual wear, including T-shirts and hats, but nothing to the extent of its new apparel line, ScorpionWear.
“This is the big diversification,” said Eric Anderson, founder and vice president of Scorpion Sports.
Anderson believes having both a helmet and apparel line will make the Scorpion brand more appealing and help the company potentially grow its base of 1,500 U.S. dealers by more than 60 percent in the next year.
“There’s merchandising, design and development that we feel connect from head to toe,” Anderson said. “Not that we’re going to build helmets to match jackets or vice versa. But we think long term there is some integration, some similarity in design and graphics that can be incorporated between a helmet manufacturer and a clothing manufacturer.
“And up until this point, no one in the powersports industry has actually had ownership relationships with both helmets and clothing factory. We are co-owners with an apparel factory and a helmet factory. We are not a helmet manufacturer that found some apparel factories to leverage our name and we’re not an apparel manufacturer that found some helmet factories to leverage our brand name. We are the factory.”
Scorpion Sports has factories in China, Indonesia and Vietnam. But up until now, the company has had only one U.S. warehouse, in California. That changed recently when the company leased a 65,000-square-feet facility in Louisville, KY.
“We looked to buy, but we just couldn’t find anything in that size range,” Anderson said, noting that UPS’ decision to locate a huge hub in the Louisville area has made warehouse space scarce. “They were either 300,000 or 10,000 square feet (warehouses) and none in between.”
The new warehouse, which will be about 25,000 square feet larger than the existing California facility, is expected to begin shipping product by Oct. 1. Its opening is expected to have an immediate effect on business as it allows Scorpion to meet an oft-asked dealer demand.
“They want to order it on Tuesday and receive it by the weekend,” Anderson said. “That’s pretty hard to do from a California warehouse.”
The new location will enable Scorpion to better service the East Coast and the Midwest, areas that together represent as much business as the West Coast.
“We anticipate our sales will increase 25 percent just in the Midwest and the East Coast as soon as we open those doors,” Anderson said of the new warehouse.
The second warehouse will present some business challenges to Scorpion, which will seek to equal the fill rate success it has experienced in California at its new site. To do that, Anderson has been delving deeper into its sales histories, noting not only what national demand is for a specific product, but how that demand differs between different U.S. regions.
The new warehouse will store mainly helmets at first as all ScorpionWear will be warehoused out of the California facility during this year’s fourth quarter. The initial ScorpionWear will include leather jackets with a five-year warranty, textile jackets with a three-year warranty and gloves with a one-year warranty.
Like its helmet business, Scorpion is aiming to produce a high-end apparel product at a mid-price point, Anderson said.
The second phase of ScorpionExoWear will come out for the next Dealer Expo and include a women’s collection of pants, jackets and gloves as well more products for men.
“We’ll use a lot of new materials and styling and design graphics that have never been done before in motorcycle apparel,” Anderson said.
By Neil Pascale