Product development becomes primary focus under Mohr’s leadership
There’s no doubt that Küryakyn wanted to go big with its Crusher Performance Division launch earlier this year. The Somerset, Wis.-based aftermarket company teased the launch a couple weeks in advance on social media, and then showed up in Sturgis with a Crusher-branded semi-truck and awning, new Crusher product and a team of Crusher staff. And, in August, the wraps were taken off the product, and rave reviews began pouring in.
“People said we were the talk of the town that week,” Küryakyn president Holger Mohr told Powersports Business.
Crusher is an all-new division of 25-year-old Küryakyn, though many of its products had already been in the Küryakyn portfolio. Crusher is focused solely on performance products, such as exhaust, air cleaners, cams and fuel management products.
Quick to market
The concept of a performance-only division was conceived of in March, just two months after Mohr, the former VP of Business Development for Küryakyn parent Motorsports Aftermarket Group (MAG), was named president of Küryakyn.
“We’ve always had success with performance products, despite the fact that the presentation consisted of a few pages at the of the Küryakyn catalog and a table at the rallies. In addition, I don’t think a lot of consumers necessarily associate Küryakyn with performance products, but that has clearly changed,” Mohr said.
Despite the lack of emphasis on the performance products, they were still doing well, but Mohr was convinced they could be moving even better.
“I think when you have that one-on-one conversation, and people figure out that the quality and performance of our product is outstanding, we’ve been very successful. So we were trying to figure out how we can take that to the next level, how to give it its own identity. From this soul searching, we formed the Crusher Performance division and designed some brand new, really cool new product.”
With only about five months between the birth of the performance division and the Sturgis unveil, Mohr said the marketing and product development teams worked extremely hard to perfect the release. And fortunately those efforts were met with a positive response.
“The feedback we got is people love it. It looks different, something new. It sounds and performs great, and the style is outstanding,” Mohr said.
Though the Crusher team will work alongside other Küryakyn employees in Somerset, from the outside, the Crusher division will have its own identity and its own catalog. Mohr deemed that necessary, as the performance shopper is looking for something different than Küryakyn’s typical chrome accessory buyer.
Crusher was launched with a number of Küryakyn’s previous performance products, along with a new line of Maverick exhausts. Better-performing air cleaners and other products are also on tap to fill out the Crusher portfolio. But that lineup will also grow, as the Crusher team continues to focus its efforts.
“Crusher really just got started. We’re obviously going to expand the line and look at different designs that live up to our creed of ‘Defining Style Within Performance.’ Like Küryakyn’s portfolio, I doubt that Crusher will be limited to the Harley platform,” Mohr said.
“We just launched it, so we’re getting a lot of good feedback; feedback that’s going to help us define the direction and long-term strategy. Küryakyn and Crusher both take pride in listening to the market, something that will continue under my leadership.”
The creation of the Crusher line is just one of the ways Küryakyn has changed since industry-veteran Mohr came on board.
With Küryakyn celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, a NXT 25 initiative was launched, aimed at securing the company’s future for the next 25 years and beyond. That initiative has focused on hiring new employees and reenergizing the business as a whole.
“It’s a huge opportunity for Küryakyn to go to the next level. We need the right team. We’ve got great people, but we definitely need to improve capacity, especially around product development and design, engineering,” Mohr said. “We want to obviously grow our core market, but part of the NXT 25 is to add additional brands that complement or complete our product portfolio. We will always cater to the loyal Küryakyn customer, but there are numerous customers with a different product desire, and we want to cater to them as well.”
Though Küryakyn has always been known for its innovation, Mohr said the number of new products the company had developed over the past few years had begun to slow, so with the NXT 25, he hopes to give a new boost to product development.
“Küryakyn has great employees and a good structure. My primary focus is to reenergize the organization and improve processes and procedures, especially around the new product development. We’re great at it; we’re usually the first to market; we just need to do a lot more, and I know we can do so with impactful projects,” Mohr said.
To that end, Küryakyn has been on a hiring spree. Notable hires include Pete Amenda, another industry veteran with different leadership positions at Harley-Davidson Motor Co. who also is a former VP of marketing for S&S Cycle and now vice president of product development for Küryakyn. Kevin Miller, a former source development manager at Safco Products, is now director of international sourcing and supply chain at Küryakyn.
“So we now have the product development and the sourcing piece dialed-in and they’re working together as a team,” Mohr said, adding that with those two each focused on their own areas, yet working together, dealers should see better fill rates, better quality of product and faster speed to market.
Küryakyn has also added to its marketing, sales and product development teams. All new hires in these departments have a common passion — motorcycles. “They ride — they get it!” Mohr said. Though about 20 new employees had been added from January to August, 10 more positions were available as of mid-November. About 130 employees are based out of Küryakyn’s headquarters near Minneapolis-St. Paul.
“The tough part is recruiting the right people, but there’s a lot of very, very talented motorcycle enthusiasts out there that have the background, the education and the know-how that do not want to work for that big, corporate-type environment,” Mohr said. “Küryakyn is probably one of the largest, if not the largest, player in the motorcycle aftermarket accessory business, but the way we operate is very different than the traditional corporate-type company, and this has a certain appeal to a lot of people — especially people who want to talk to the guy who runs the company and show up in his office, where at these monster companies, you can’t even get close to their office. We all share a love for motorcycles here, and we live that. And since we don’t manufacture in house, the size of the company is not that large, so we all talk to each other on a daily basis.”
Next on the docket for Küryakyn is an increase in product development, growing the Crusher, Bahn and XKürsion brands, international growth and likely the development of more divisions and brands.