Ever since the Langston clan moved to the U.S. three years ago, Grant’s dad, Gerald, has been importing the Belgian-made Doma pipes to the U.S. The original headquarters for Langston Racing was in a 1,000 square foot facility in Temecula, CA, but they’ve recently moved and expanded in a big way.
Now housed in an 11,000 square foot building in a light industrial complex in Lake Elsinore, Langston Racing has grown considerably. As Gerald explains, “We’ve actually got three sections to the business here. We’ve got the retail section, the service section, and our wholesale import and distribution shop. People walk in here and are like, ‘Wow, we didn’t even know you were open! This is great!'”
“We’re the shop on the access road to the Lake Elsinore track. The track is good for a couple hundred bucks a day in broken levers, broken handlebars, that kind of stuff. In addition to the accessories on the main floor, upstairs we have a lifestyle section with casual clothes and Grant’s championship-winning bike.” Roaming the shop we also found everything from Thor gear and Alpinestars boots, tires, helmets, and even a few more obscure accessories.
With Grant’s obvious sponsorship ties to KTM, sometimes people assume that it’s a KTM dealership. Gerald says, “That’s a stigma that we’ve been stuck with. They phone us and ask, ‘Have you got a primary drive gear for a KTM 50?’ or something like that. They’re pretty surprised when they find we’re not a KTM dealer. Not that we didn’t ask for it. But KTM decided to give it to Three Brothers as opposed to us.”
“We’ll have a grand opening on the ninth of May, the day following The Prequel at Glen Helen. A lot of riders, including Ivan Tedesco, Josh Hansen, Brock Sellards, David Pingree will be there to sign autographs.”
The service area is also proving to be quite popular, with the normal servicing options, but they’ll also go beyond the basics. “Most shops will stop at a bolt-on pipe or a V-Force. They don’t want to go any further. We’ve also got a suspension department that does exceptionally well. We have special equipment like a bleed pump. It’s like a decompression chamber that you put the whole shock in. Then there’s no chance of any air in the system at all. There are certain types of suspension that you have to have one of those, especially WP, you have to have a bleed pump. There are only about two or three shops in the whole of California that have one.”
“I’ve gone and bought the best workbench setups, with roller doors that lock up their tools. Everything’s brand new. All the tire balancing machines, wheel balancing machines, and all the ramps for working on bikes.”
“We also do a lot of engine modification, like porting. Right now we’re having a porting table made, with an opaque top, and light from underneath.”
“But our most profitable section is the original business, the import and distribution business. In South Africa we’re like a Parts Unlimited. We’re the big fish in a small pond. Here we’re the small fish in a big pond.
What are the challenges of bringing the Doma pipes to the U. “We’ve actually had to put our prices up because of the exchange rate. The dollar’s lost a third of its value to the Euro. We thought we were going to be in trouble, so we let stock run down a bit, but we just landed a shipment on Monday. $50,000 worth of pipes. They’re flying out, even at the new price because they work.”
“We don’t give pipes away, we can’t. We pay for every pipe. We pay for the exchange rate, and we air freight it over. The guys here can make a pipe here a lot cheaper. They’re making pipes for probably 15% of what we’re landing them for, so they can afford to give a whole lot of pipes away, whereas we can’t.”
Who are the customers for the Doma pipes? According to Gerald, “It’s mostly the small tune-up and hop-up shops where the guys have the time to do back-to-back testing. They’ll say, ‘Hey, this pipe is really good.’ It’s not always about absolute horsepower. It’s how it’s delivered. We’ve been doing these in the states since we got here three years ago, and when we started off, our initial shipment was about $15,000. We’re now selling about 300 pipes a month. That’s nothing compared to the big guys, but we’re importers, we’re not manufacturers.
“To South Africa, we export the No Toil air filters, Cometic Gaskets, GPR stabilizers, V-Force, One Industries, TAG handlebars, and more. We’re also the South African importers for M2R helmets, so we carry a lot of helmets. They’ve been selling really well.”
How often does Gerald return to South Africa? With a smile, he said, “Only once a year now. I’ve got a partner there who does a really good job. People say, “Well, what if he’s ripping you off?’ The way I look at it is, ‘If I’m going to make this kind of money and he’s ripping me off, well good luck to him.'”
Asking Gerald if his speedy son was contributing to the business, he said, “Grant’s a financier. He has been wise in that he’s a financial partner in the South African business. We’ve done commercial property deals together, we’ve done residential property deals together. He has invested a lot of his money. Our business in South Africa’s been going for about five years. It has record year after record year. It’s something that he can fall back on when his racing career’s over. There are not a lot of riders who do that. A lot of them spend their money during their racing career. When the end of their career comes and they’re scratching around to make a living. Hopefully, the plan is that when his career is over, then I’ll go into retirement and he takes over the business and I just collect a check every month. At the moment, his priority’s to concentrate on racing.”
With the LangstonRacing.com signage on the exterior of their building, we were curious how the development of their web site was progressing. “We’ve entered into a contract with Sponsorhouse.com, and they’re going to be building our online shop. It’ll be a work-in-progress over the next year. It actually takes a long time to introduce a product. Even like a four-stroke pipe. It’s not just a four-stroke pipe, because you’ve got the header, in some cases like a KTM LC4, you’ve got the header, the joint pipe and the silencer. You have to try to keep it as simple as possible, but what if a guy just flattens his header. He doesn’t want to buy a whole system. So you’ve got to break it up, and put it into part number, but it’s got to be simple enough that he can buy a complete system. Part numbers, years, applications, you’ve got to get the guy a bit of background info on the product. How it works and how it will benefit him. It takes a while.”
How does he feel about the collection of businesses? “We’re still in our infancy. Maybe we were conservative in our projections, but it’s definitely going better than the goals we’d set.”
31889 Corydon St., Unit 170
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
ake Elsinore, CA 92530