Scorpion USA gets development boost with addition of Wilkinson
By Liz Keener
After more than a decade of riding and a career full of collecting ideas for improving a variety of products, Edward Wilkinson has landed in an ideal position for someone with his background.
Wilkinson was named director of development for Scorpion USA in January. Scorpion, with its own factories, sales team and distribution, has been a welcome addition.
“It’s been awesome,” he told Powersports Business. “Now we’re doing things that I haven’t done before, which is always the challenge.”
Wilkinson’s career started in retail at an outdoor sporting goods store, from which he was often advising his manufacturer reps on product improvements.
“I would collect these ideas and feedback based on using that product, and I would take it back to the manufacturer’s rep,” he said. “Everything can be made better; all you need is the idea.”
Wilkinson then moved on to the shoe company Merrell, where he spent 10 years. Then, in the early 2000s, he became a motorcyclist and quickly developed a passion for adventure touring. However, he quickly became disappointed in the apparel and gear that was available for that segment. Again, he was beginning to come up with his own ideas on how to improve these products.
Soon, Wilkinson melded his career with his passion, accepting a position at Klim, where, among other lines, he worked on the Badlands and Latitude motorcycle products.
Then Scorpion called, and Wilkinson was excited to join the team. At Scorpion, he oversees all of the company’s development products, and he works hand-in-hand with national sales manager Jayson Wickenkamp.
“Sales tells us what people want, and we can build it. Or I’ll come back from a materials or trade show, and we’ll look at what I learned,” Wilkinson said.
When Wilkinson joined Scorpion, one of his first big projects was the 2015 line, which will be released in January. New products for that line are focused on outfitting street touring, off-road touring and speed touring riders.
“Obviously for 2015 it’s going to be a lot of touring,” Wilkinson said. “The average age of the motorcycle consumer now is in their early 40s; they’ve got more discretionary income, and they use their bikes to travel.”
At AIMExpo in October, Scorpion unveiled the R710 helmet, the latest in its R-series. The lid features a fiberglass/Aramid Matrix shell, Elip-Tec base plate system, Everclear no-fog face shield, emergency release check pads and SNELL 2015 certification with an MSRP of $189.95. The MSRP on the EXO-R410 was also lowered to $129.95.
All of Scorpion’s gear is designed to be functional, useful and safe first, with fashion as a secondary focus.
“It’s functional motorcycle apparel; it also happens to look good, not the other way around,” Wilkinson said.
Scorpion is easily able to develop any product its design team can conceive of because its parent company, South Korea-based Kido Sports, also owns its own factories, making the transition from design to production seamless.
“We’ve got factories that build it, so it’s not like I’m going to some handbag factory and saying, ‘Can you guys make something like this?’” Wilkinson said. “The guy that owns Kido, he’s pretty awesome. He loves challenges. He doesn’t like to hear the word no. He makes you be competitive. He makes you try new things all the time.”
The company-owned factory gives Wilkinson’s team more flexibility, a key characteristic that attracted him to the job.
“What I really love is the overall quality. We have access to pretty much any material that is commercially available, and we have some really great designers that make some good stuff,” he said.
Oftentimes second samples from the factory are ready to wear for testers who will spend four to six months putting the gear through its paces.
Easy access to the factory allows Scorpion to quickly react to customer needs, and it allows the company to have complete control over quality.
“That’s all we do here; we find out what the consumer needs are, and we make it for them,” Wilkinson said.
The brand has attracted a wide range of customers, from riders who are looking for their first high-quality set of gear to those who are ready to take on a long-distance adventure-riding trip.
“We do a lot of touring; we do a lot of commuting; we do speed touring, and we do adventure or dual sport. We’re not a Supercross brand. … We’re not dragster racers. We’re sort of everything in between there,” Wilkinson explained. “Technology, price, quality — we’re right in the middle of that, too.”
His team’s goal is to always produce gear that will protect the rider in the case of a crash, while doing so at price that offers value for the money.
“If we’re going to build a premium product, it’s going to be a premium product that comes with all the features, and they’ll be amazed at the price point,” Wilkinson said.
Though the 2015 line is already designed and ready for the January release, Wilkinson hasn’t slowed down. His team is two months into its 2016 designs, and work on 2017 was expected to begin in mid-October.
“We’ve got four or five categories, and every year we focus on one of those categories and bring it up to speed, make it new again,” he said. “You can be assured it’s going to be functional apparel; we’re not going to make fashionable but not functional apparel.” psb