Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

VonZipper
Pat Lopez, MX Category Manager at VonZipper

Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

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The action sports industry is sort of like organized crime: sometimes it’s shady, most times really awesome, and nearly impossible to escape from. If you pay close enough attention to the business side of the sport, you’ll see the same names pop up at different companies as they climb the ladder from entry level capo to executive boss. We’ve known Pat Lopez for quite some time and have watched our former Advertising Executive at TWMX ultimately become the MX Category Manager at VonZipper. Known most for their presence in board sports, the eyewear company has made a huge push in motocross with athlete signings and exciting ad campaigns. That shot of Tyler Bereman ripping an ancient Honda is not just a take on the vintage vibe that is popular with everyone, but the perfect representation of the VZ brand as a whole. What’s it take to find your place in the market? We found out from P-Lo during a recent visit to the company’s Orange County office…

 Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

“I hit two years on January 2nd, and I know that date because when you get a job at VonZipper, you remember that kind of stuff. To be honest, it's no different than when I got the job working for TransWorld in the sense they are both really cool jobs to have in the industry. There are certain brands that mean a lot to people, and to me it means a lot to work here with Greg Tomlinson (GT, the founder), Curt Fry (VP of Sales), and of course with Dano Legere, who is one of my very best friends. To be at this point in our careers and ages, we feel we can do it right, but still have guidance from GT and Curt. I run the motocross division, from sales and marketing to athlete management with Dano. He handles the day to day on that side of things, but it's all encompassing in that it has a garage feel to it, but is a profitable company.”

“GT loves motorcycles and I think when you have leaders like that, speaking specifically to the motorcycle channel, you naturally have a two-way conversation. You aren't explaining yourself or gathering analogies for them to understand what you are trying to do. For myself growing up in Huntington Beach, it was the luck of the draw to grow up by the beach and work at Surfside Sports with Nate Hawley, who runs DC, Dano, and all of the Volcom guys that would come in. It was a surf, skate, snow shop but we all liked motocross and if you look at the original Crusty Demons of Dirt, it was very surf-centric. There were different brands involved in it, which were beach city brands. So for me to come into an action sports brand, it wasn't tough, because we'd been involved as individuals and as a brand. GT was one of the first X Games announcers with Cameron Steele, and that's why you saw a push with guys like Brian Deegan originally.”

Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

“There are not any posers in our office, whether it's with the snow team, our moto team, or our surf team. The motorcycles you see in the ads are ours, we work on them more than we ride them, but they are our bikes. The transition for myself here, especially for the brand in motocross, was nice. There was a paved path for me from some of the people in the past.”

“There is definitely some tutorial on my part at dealer shows, but the great thing about that is we are a brand that people know. Maybe some of them don't know us as a motocross brand, but I can easily remind them of our championship in 2008 with Jason Lawrence. He was in what was our inexpensive goggle at the time, the Sizzle. And I use that, saying, ‘Jason Lawrence won in the Sizzle goggle.’ The product works and whether we are signing an athlete or a retailer, I give them the goggles to try. If the goggle didn't work, I wouldn't be trying to sell it; I'd be working on making it better because I have the support here to build the products that I need. Certainly there is some tutorial at times, but I can fall back on our history of teams we've been with to remind a fellow dirt bike enthusiast where we have been. And the conversation takes off from there.”

 Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

“We know who the big guys are in the marketplace, and to say we don't have those budgets wouldn't be true. We have a lot of very strong branded sports within the company that the others don't have. We pick and choose who we align ourselves with, and that's always been the ‘MO’ here, not just based on results. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to win, but if you look at Tyler Bereman and the whips he through at Glamis with the Monster Crew, he kind of took over the whole thing. When I met Tyler five years ago, I knew that was the kind of guy he is and that made him the first person I brought on. There is a bigger picture than results, but if you take dirt bikes out and look at who they are, they fit with us.”

Fad Free | VonZipper & Pat Lopez

“I give credit where credit is due, and it goes to Greg and his creative direction with Ryan Baca. They come up with a lot of the concepts, like the trophies last year and the do it yourself campaign this year. He used to ride in the High Desert, so he get's it.”

“The Support Wildlife tour for all of our sports is big, like our Touchy Feely Pop A Wheelie days. You can touch the product, feel it, then go ride in it. We are going to do that across the country after select rounds of the pro tour.”