TWMX All Access: Factory Effex

Sponsored by:

Bike manufacturers aren’t the only ones scrambling to get ready for the 2004 model year. Graphics companies are hard at work, chasing down new models, and putting their spin on the look of the bikes so that they’re ready in time for introduction in the fall catalogs.

This week TWMX stopped by Factory Effex, to check out the inner workings of their graphics business. The President of Factory Effex, Bryar Holcomb, is a former Bultaco and Suzuki factory rider who won 500cc Support class at the first-ever Superbowl of Motocross at the L.A. Coliseum. He and the VP of Factory Effex, Scott Gilly, are still both passionate about riding. Bryar had just returned from a vacation to Spain where he’d spent 12 hours a day riding around the country at high speed, and as soon as we were done with the following interview, Scott bolted to put in some motos at Gorman’s MX track.

[IMAGE 1]

Housed in 10,000 square feet for the last four years, Factory Effex ships between 50 and 80 invoices a day, totaling between $5,000 to $20,000 each. They have roughly 950 part numbers in the total product line, and a 90+ day inventory, depending on seasonality.

Parts Unlimited and Tucker Rocky are their two exclusive U.S. distributors, and outside the U.S. they have 35 to 40 importers.

TransWorld Motocross: How about some background on how Factory Effex got to where it is today?

Scott Gilly: Bryar was the original inventor of motorcycle graphics; the concept of actually putting a sticker on the side of a motorcycle and changing the look of the bike. At the same time, another one of our competitors was getting into a similar product line, but through making really nice numbers.

Bryar entered into a licensing agreement with this product idea through Answer Racing. At the time, Answer was predominantly an apparel company, working with Johnny O’Mara and some really heavy hitters back in the 80s. The company was also set up to do aluminum handlebars, mufflers, and spark arrestors. They were actually the world leader in that market for a number of years. Answer owned the muffler market and the handlebar market. Well, since then Renthal has come into play, and of course there’s Pro Circuit and FMF.

Bryar’s license arrangement with Answer was set up so that he would work in-house, and use all of Answer’s resources from its distribution points to its inside art and design facility. They had everything all in-house, actually in the same industrial park where we are now. This was back in the early 80s.

At the time I was Sales Manager for Answer on the off-road side, and Answer eventually got really involved in mountain biking with the Manitou fork and with BMX, and it’s still a pretty strong player in that market today. Through this gyration of history, the motorcycle group at Answer Products was actually bought out by a company called Lacey Diversified, who also owns Tucker Rocky and a couple of other major players.

At that point Bryar decided to not renew the licensing agreement and go out on his own. He did that for about a year, working out of the Answer office, and they split Answer motorcycle and cycle into two independent locations. I was still an employee and sales manager of Answer products, although I was very intimate with Bryar’s product line and watched it grow into what it is today.

Bryar realized that there was a major demand for this product in the marketplace—this is about five years ago—at that point he asked if I’d come with him and build this company to what it is today.

Currently we have 20 employees that work at this location, which is a design, marketing and distribution facility. The product line has grown from a 30-page catalog to an 85-page catalog.

We offer state-of-the-art service that’s comparable to a Tucker Rocky or Parts Unlimited. Basically, orders ship the same day with high fill rates. We’ve really prided ourselves on building the company on good service, and being a reliable source of supply.

At the end of the day, graphics are a pretty subjective thing. Either you like the orange stripes or green stripes on that particular graphic or you don’t. For the consumer a lot of the purchasing decision is driven off of that subjectiveness, but after that, now that I’ve decided on what flavor of graphic that I like and I’m comfortable with buying, can I get it? We’ve found that over the years we’ve actually earned a lot of business because of availability and making sure that our product is well distributed and accessible from the dealers to the end-user. So because of that service commitment that we’ve had, we’ve paved our way as the leading graphics company in the market worldwide, and we’ve held that position for two years and feel that we have a good strong arm on that position.

Out of 100% market share, 90% of it is controlled by Factory Effex, N-Style, and One Industries, probably in that order. At the end of the day, Factory Effex owns the largest portion of that percentage of the marketplace.

TWMX: Is this the time of year you’re collecting plastic to build new dies?

SG: Quite frankly, that’s the most difficult part of this industry. Not to give out all of our secrets, but it comes down to relationships. We’re actually licensed by all of the major OEs through trademark use, and through our licensing agreement and our relationships within those contacts, we’re allowed to get advance looks at motorcycles.

For example, we’ve already die-lined the KXF250. We sent our art team down there to trace the die lines in the shapes of the plastic. They built a seat pattern right there. They brought those back to the office, scanned those shapes in, cleaned them up, cut them out to what we think the actual die line or shape of the sticker edge is going to look like. Then go back down to the factory, line up our guesstimation of what those shapes are going to be, and the process takes two or three times until we get it down to where it’s perfect. So we know that when we go and actually buy the rule die that cuts out these stickers, that it fits perfectly every time.

This year is going to be a pretty good year, because there are only two or three models that are going to require new dies and new shapes, so we lucked out. Everybody in the graphics industry faces the same change.

TWMX: How about design trends this year? Anything new?

SG: We’ve always been pretty conservative in terms of what colors we decide to use. We tend to stay with what we think the factory look of the bike is. We believe that the consumer out there ultimately wants to see a bike that utilizes the same color selection that you would see on a factory works model bike. This year will be the first year that we’ll go slightly outside of that box, but in terms of brand new colors or introducing new colors into this product line, nothing really outside of the box.

[IMAGE 2]

We’re also becoming more and more limited to what we can do in terms of design through our licensing agreements. For example, Yamaha and Honda are becoming more and more controlling about how their logo is being represented on the side of a motorcycle, which is now limiting us to what colors we’re allowed to use on a bike. So the progression unfortunately in the marketplace is that a lot of our graphics are going to start to blend and look similar because of some of these limitations.

TWMX: So we won’t be seeing any splatter day-glow graphics this year?

SG: I wouldn’t see that anytime soon. (Laughs)

It’s funny, though, in terms of the way product looks we’ll pull out a catalog from 1988 and look it over. We were really proud of our product back then, just as much as we are now. But looking back at our designs, we’ll wonder what the heck we were thinking. Then you look at, wow, how many of those things sold.

Jeff Emig was one of our key riders that we had way back in the day who really helped pave the way of building the image of this company and its products through our relationship with Team Kawasaki. But if you look at the design of the graphic, there was absolutely nothing exciting or appealing about it. It was real simple, real straightforward, but to this day that was one of our number one selling graphics.

TWMX: How does the relationship work with Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki? Do you pay them to license the team graphic?

SG: The licensing we have through Kawasaki is to use the trademarks they have in their portfolio, specifically, the name Kawasaki. Through our race team involvement, where we sponsor Team Chevy Trucks, Bubba Stewart, and Ezra Lusk, we’ll actually do all the conceptual design work for the race teams. They’ll give us some parameters that we have to stay within, strictly from the race department. Oddly enough, it’s two completely different entities from Kawasaki Motor Corporation. They’re all employed by the same group, but they have two different philosophies on how a motorcycle should look and the utilization of those trademarks. The race team is its own separate monster that we have to tackle each year and develop a bike that’s eye-catching and appealing and satisfies Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s appetite for the way they want their bikes to look.

[IMAGE 3]

[IMAGE 4]

The good news is, because of that relationship, we’re not really exploited to a licensing fee or anything that relates to the race team, because they view that as a really good marketing tool. They view motocross as their highest image builder for the Kawasaki products.

TWMX: Do you do much custom work?

SG: Yep. We’ve recently expanded into custom graphics, just this last year, where we’ve aggressively gone after it. We’ve actually set up a manufacturing line within our manufacturing facility, that does nothing but custom. We believe that if we commit and dedicate a production line just to custom, we can deliver that, again, on time. There’s a tremendous market out there for custom products out there for dealers and riders alike.

It came out of our sales department. Every day we would hear this from our customers telling us that there’s a need for a reliable source of supply for this custom product. So we made a decision to dedicate resources in our manufacturing. Since then, we’ve taken on an enormous amount of custom graphic work. Again, we pride ourselves on reliable on-time delivery. To this day, we’re still gaining market share. We’re new to that segment, and our dealers are only learning now that we have that vehicle available for them, but it’s growing in huge leaps and bounds.

It’ll range from a Chaparral style store that’ll sell thousands and thousands of motorcycle units, to a e and more limited to what we can do in terms of design through our licensing agreements. For example, Yamaha and Honda are becoming more and more controlling about how their logo is being represented on the side of a motorcycle, which is now limiting us to what colors we’re allowed to use on a bike. So the progression unfortunately in the marketplace is that a lot of our graphics are going to start to blend and look similar because of some of these limitations.

TWMX: So we won’t be seeing any splatter day-glow graphics this year?

SG: I wouldn’t see that anytime soon. (Laughs)

It’s funny, though, in terms of the way product looks we’ll pull out a catalog from 1988 and look it over. We were really proud of our product back then, just as much as we are now. But looking back at our designs, we’ll wonder what the heck we were thinking. Then you look at, wow, how many of those things sold.

Jeff Emig was one of our key riders that we had way back in the day who really helped pave the way of building the image of this company and its products through our relationship with Team Kawasaki. But if you look at the design of the graphic, there was absolutely nothing exciting or appealing about it. It was real simple, real straightforward, but to this day that was one of our number one selling graphics.

TWMX: How does the relationship work with Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki? Do you pay them to license the team graphic?

SG: The licensing we have through Kawasaki is to use the trademarks they have in their portfolio, specifically, the name Kawasaki. Through our race team involvement, where we sponsor Team Chevy Trucks, Bubba Stewart, and Ezra Lusk, we’ll actually do all the conceptual design work for the race teams. They’ll give us some parameters that we have to stay within, strictly from the race department. Oddly enough, it’s two completely different entities from Kawasaki Motor Corporation. They’re all employed by the same group, but they have two different philosophies on how a motorcycle should look and the utilization of those trademarks. The race team is its own separate monster that we have to tackle each year and develop a bike that’s eye-catching and appealing and satisfies Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s appetite for the way they want their bikes to look.

[IMAGE 3]

[IMAGE 4]

The good news is, because of that relationship, we’re not really exploited to a licensing fee or anything that relates to the race team, because they view that as a really good marketing tool. They view motocross as their highest image builder for the Kawasaki products.

TWMX: Do you do much custom work?

SG: Yep. We’ve recently expanded into custom graphics, just this last year, where we’ve aggressively gone after it. We’ve actually set up a manufacturing line within our manufacturing facility, that does nothing but custom. We believe that if we commit and dedicate a production line just to custom, we can deliver that, again, on time. There’s a tremendous market out there for custom products out there for dealers and riders alike.

It came out of our sales department. Every day we would hear this from our customers telling us that there’s a need for a reliable source of supply for this custom product. So we made a decision to dedicate resources in our manufacturing. Since then, we’ve taken on an enormous amount of custom graphic work. Again, we pride ourselves on reliable on-time delivery. To this day, we’re still gaining market share. We’re new to that segment, and our dealers are only learning now that we have that vehicle available for them, but it’s growing in huge leaps and bounds.

It’ll range from a Chaparral style store that’ll sell thousands and thousands of motorcycle units, to a small KTM shop in the Ft. Worth area that supports five or six race guys.

TWMX: Who does the design?

SG: Our top designers. We do all of our in-house design. We will take an idea and slowly mold it into something that fits the dealer’s expectations of what he wants it to look like. That ranges anywhere from, ‘Hey, here’s my idea on a napkin,’ to, ‘Hey, I have some digital images and incorporate those into an existing design you already have.’ We’ve structured our art department to be able to work hands-on with the dealer to mold and shape a product that fits their needs to a T. We’ll continue to work with them until the customer ultimately signs off that, ‘That’s what I want, go produce it.’ At the end of the day they got what they wanted, they got it on time, and they had a good relationship and interaction to go on. That’s our goal, because the next goal is to kind of go, ‘Hey, by the way, you did that, now put the Factory Effex brand in there, and here’s the best way…’ You’ve established trust and believability.

Our goal has always been to have a well-organized, well run company that’s a reliable source of supply with on-time delivery. We’ve achieved that now in a pretty short period of time, especially with the phenomenal growth that we’ve experienced over the last three years.

Contact:
Factory Effex, Inc.
24922 Anza Dr., Ste. D
Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 255-5611

www.factoryeffex.com

Sponsored by:

o a small KTM shop in the Ft. Worth area that supports five or six race guys.

TWMX: Who does the design?

SG: Our top designers. We do all of our in-house design. We will take an idea and slowly mold it into something that fits the dealer’s expectations of what he wants it to look like. That ranges anywhere from, ‘Hey, here’s my idea on a napkin,’ to, ‘Hey, I have some digital images and incorporate those into an existing design you already have.’ We’ve structured our art department to be able to work hands-on with the dealer to mold and shape a product that fits their needs to a T. We’ll continue to work with them until the customer ultimately signs off that, ‘That’s what I want, go produce it.’ At the end of the day they got what they wanted, they got it on time, and they had a good relationship and interaction to go on. That’s our goal, because the next goal is to kind of go, ‘Hey, by the way, you did that, now put the Factory Effex brand in there, and here’s the best way…’ You’ve established trust and believability.

Our goal has always been to have a well-organized, well run company that’s a reliable source of supply with on-time delivery. We’ve achieved that now in a pretty short period of time, especially with the phenomenal growth that we’ve experienced over the last three years.

Contact:
Factory Effex, Inc.
24922 Anza Dr., Ste. D
Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 255-5611

www.factoryeffex.com

Sponsored by: