Answer Racing has a long history in the sport—back to the days of Bob Hannah, Johnny O’Mara, Donnie Hansen, and Brian Myerscough. But over the last couple seasons, the racing was missing from Answer Racing. They’d scaled back their race participation in favor of a more freestyle-oriented marketing scheme, to the disappointment of riders, consumers, and dealers.
The good news is that they have a new Brand Manager, John Grise, who has redirected their energies, both for the soft goods and apparel items from Answer, and the hardware control items of Pro Taper. A veteran of the motocross industry, Grise was formerly a brand manager for Arnette, and his involvement with the motocross side of the business was a priority, but he also worked with the cycling and music industries.
John gave us a tour around Answer and Pro Taper’s marketing, design, and sales headquarters in Corona, CA, and gave us the scoop on the redirection of the company. “We’re working to reestablish Answer as a solid competitive brand that’s more involved in racing. We kind of let racing go for a year or so. But now we’ve got some solid racers with Mach One Motorsports and the ECC team, and you’re going to see some great new things coming from Answer.
That sentiment is shared by Answer’s Design Director, Doug Geller. “The guy who was here before John was into freestyle, and led us down that path. We never went away, we just took a sabbatical.”
The fact that they supply Team ECC, one of the most shockingly colorful teams on the track hasn’t hurt their visibility. “They took our existing jersey and kind of showed us what they wanted for logos, sponsors, and colors. At first it was shocking, but we’ve gotten a lot of calls on it, and people are into it. It looks good on the floor of the stadium.”
Grise explained that changes aren’t limited to the Answer side. “Pro Taper is a leading handlebar brand, and we’ve done very well with it. Yamaha and Suzuki have used the handlebar for many years now and we’ve had a lot of great results. Again, we’re introducing some new things there with a top and bottom clamp, with adjustable handlebar positioning. We’ve got aluminum throttle tubes now, so there’s a lot of things that we’re slowly introducing to that line to make it a much more competitive brand also.”
Another change for Pro Taper was that this year featured the first-ever standalone Pro Taper catalog. According to Dave Colquhoun, Answer’s Senior Graphic Designer, “Pro Taper used to always get a couple pages at the end of the Answer catalog. About a year ago we started talking about separating the two brands just because a lot of people associated Pro Taper with Answer, and figured, ‘If I run Fox, I can’t run Pro Taper.’ We wanted to separate them, so people would just think Pro Taper, and this was one way to help do that. The reps and dealers are excited about it, and it’s been well received. There’s a lot of good info in there that dealers are desperate for.”
So will the return to racing help stimulate sales at Answer? Grise is optimistic. “We’ve only started racing in January. We feel pretty confident just from the outcry last year from the reps and retailers, asking, ‘Who are your team guys? Who’s wearing your stuff?’ Now we can go in there and show them. They’re excited about that. “
Dave sounds even more confident. “It’s nice to see that we’re heading back in the right direction. Back to where we should be. It’s very exciting. John’s brought a lot of focus back that we were kind of lacking.”
“Going to the races and seeing Answer logos on the big rigs, and seeing guys out actually racing is phenomenal. This is where we should have been all along. It’s great to be back in the mix.”