TWMX All Access: Shift’s Brian Price

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Morgan Hill, CA, is home not just to FOX Racing, but to its companion brand, Shift. How do you compete against your bigger sibling? You don’t, really. Shift has always had a different vibe and style, and that has become more apparent over the last year or two, when Brian Price moved back to Nor-Cal after a career stint living and working in Italy. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, and we’ll let Brian explain…

TransWorld Motocross: Brian, tell us your title at Shift and a little bit about the road you’ve traveled to get to where you are today.

Brian Price: My title… well, I don’t really have a title (laughs). Probably the closest thing to it would be Brand Manager, but I think that’s kind of cheesy so I don’t really use it. I just say I’m the Shift guy. As far as my background, I’ve worked in the motorcycle industry pretty much my entire life. I started hanging around the dealerships when I was 16, and began working in them when I was 18. I grew up on the East Coast in Connecticut, and after a while I wanted to see if I could make a living in the motorcycle industry and realized that moving to California was probably the best way to do that. I moved out here and began networking for a little while. I met some people from FOX in 1990, and took a position with them as a Purchasing Assistant. I gradually worked up the ranks over the next seven years and left as the Brand Manager for their bicycle line. I left FOX for about three-and-a-half years and went to work for a competitor. After a while that wasn’t working out the way I had hoped so I contacted Greg Fox, who I had maintained a good relationship with. I asked him, “Hey Greg, do you have anything for me? We brainstormed for a little bit and he ended up asking what I thought about trying to do something with Shift. I jumped at the chance and have been here since 2001.

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TWMX: Shift is really looking to make a push and expand their image. What are your goals over the course of the next year to help do that?

BP: Well, obviously we want to grow the brand. We want to grow the visibility of it, but we’re very specific, careful and deliberate about how we do it. You know, that typical methods of throwing photos of athletes in a magazine and slapping a logo on them, or sponsoring whatever rider you can get your hands on really isn’t that interesting to us. Doing those things if everything is right and in place would be great, but we’re much more interested in really understanding why people come into this sport and get hooked for life. We want to understand the more emotional connection that people have with motorcycling that they perhaps don’t have with other sports. In all honesty, it took us a while to figure it out, but I think we finally started to hit the nail on the head about a year ago, and that coincided with our ‘Ride, Race, Live’ campaign. We brainstormed over that for months and now here it is.

TWMX: Who was the brainchild behind all of that?

BP: Ah… to tell you the truth, the person that pushed us in the direction of finding it was Eric Johnson. His message was, “Hey, you guys need to do something different. You need to find mething with a little more soul. It was through our own efforts and brainstorming after that, and we finally defined it and got the idea clear in our heads. It may sound a little bit contrived, but really the idea of it is that people love to ride, race and live the motorcycle lifestyle, and once you’re in it, you tend to stay forever. At this point that’s what our whole company is about. In a lot of our ads we purposely don’t use a recognizable person because we want the person who reads it to not look at it as a fantasy, but more as a reality.

TWMX: Do you think there’s a benefit to not attaching a brand to a personality?

BP: Unfortunately there’s a formula in our industry, and that is that you endorse athletes and put photos of those athletes into magazines and slap your logo on it. That formula does work, so I don’t really think that it’s bad. I like the fact that people are supporting the sport at any level. I watch Supercross and I have my heroes just as much as the next guy, but in our marketing we decided to do something a little different because it was more difficult and more unique. I think that in attempting something like that, if you can succeed, it’s a lot more rewarding.

TWMX: What is Jeff Emig’s role with Shift at this point?

BP: (Laughs) He, like me, doesn’t have a title, but he helps us out in just so many ways. His knowledge and perspective of the industry and the sport is something that I could never relate to, and I could never really understand on my own because I have not achieved the things that he has. His understanding of our style has been a tremendous asset. He’s one of the most stylish riders in history, on and off the track. You know, in a lot of ways he’s the soul of the brand because he has been around so long. The fact that he continues to be involved in the sport is something that we really like. So hopefully he’ll be connected with us for… well, as long as he wants.

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TWMX: When Fro’s heyday started to slow down, did the brand suffer at all because of it?

BP: The image suffered for sure. Business may have flattened out a bit, but it never really declined. The image didn’t necessarily go bad either, it just shrank, and that’s one of the things that we’re trying to work on now. We definitely want to grow the image. Shift has always had a very good, stylish image and that was a big challenge the first few months that I was here.

TWMX: With Shift’s affiliation with FOX, and FOX’s affiliation with possibly the two biggest superstars in motocross (RC and Bubba), you’ve been able to see first hand how that type of relationship can elevate a brand to the next level. Do you think it’s mandatory for Shift to acquire a rider of that caliber to boost its image to that next level?

BP: Well, I know that by every measure that we have right now that we are successful. Would we be more successful or would we change things if James rode for us? Yeah, for sure! (Laughs) And if James is willing, I am always ready to talk. (Laughs) But I don’t think that’s going to happen. You know, I think that we’re bigger than we’ve ever been, and the quality of Shift, the brand image, and the vibe within the company and in the industry is really good right now. By those measures I think we are successful. We have looked around at riders, and there have been opportunities that we’ve discussed, but nothing has really seemed as good or as attractive as when Jeff Emig was our endorsement. We have some stuff that we’re talking about now that may or may not come to life, so we’ll see. Just for some additional perspective, none of us inside Shift are the typical motorcycle industry mold. We’re not looking to be rock stars at the industry parties or anything. Everybody’s really serious about their work, everybody’s really into riding, and everybody works their asses off. We’re getting successful now and we’re doing well now because we’re working at it.

TWMX: Tell us a little bit more about your involvement in other forms of motorsports. We’ve seen the Shift driving suits and know that you have the Evernham Motorsports connection in NASCAR. What brought all of that on?

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BP: We got involved in karting because I’d been exposed to it and had done it a few times. I really liked it. I thought it was really fun and really cool. We started to look into product and decided it would be fun to start making it. I went to a major race in Vegas two years ago. We did a bit of research at the event and then began working on a business and marketing plan, and we’ve been at it ever since. It fits really nicely with our brand and it’s a lot of fun because it’s really low-pressure and low-key. The high dollar element that’s present in motocross is not there, so it’s just really fun. As far as our deal with (Ray) Evernham, that actually came through a phone call that was made to Greg Fox about possibly getting their brand involved. At the time they weren’t interested, but Greg asked if we were. Due to my, and a few others involvement in motorsports within Shift, we decided to give it a shot and signed a three-year deal with them.

TWMX: What do you provide to them?

BP: We provide all of the crew gear and clothing. We’re not providing any fireproof gear for them yet, but we are talking about doing that for next season. Right now we’re content with the karting thing and hope to expand our presence in all motorsports when the time is right.

TWMX: We know that you guys have been pretty involved with freestyle motocross. How important is that side of the industry to your business?

BP: It’s real important. You know, that was the roots to Shift, and probably more so than any other apparel brand out there right now. We still do pretty well with it, and the cool thing is that a lot of people are buying it just to ride in and not necessarily to jump. The gear works well, so we’ve put a lot of time and R&D in to that product more than what we’ve let on. As far as the freestyle thing, we actually let it taper off a bit for a while, but we’ve been building it back up. We have a great association with Carey Hart, which by the way, I hope he’s feeling better. I know that he just got hurt at the Huck Jam. We also have Adam Jones who’s a kick ass up-and-comer. So we are looking to expand that for sure.

TWMX: Right on Brian… thanks a lot for your time. Good luck with everything in the future.

BP: Thank you guys… I appreciate it!

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s their asses off. We’re getting successful now and we’re doing well now because we’re working at it.

TWMX: Tell us a little bit more about your involvement in other forms of motorsports. We’ve seen the Shift driving suits and know that you have the Evernham Motorsports connection in NASCAR. What brought all of that on?

[IMAGE 3]

BP: We got involved in karting because I’d been exposed to it and had done it a few times. I really liked it. I thought it was really fun and really cool. We started to look into product and decided it would be fun to start making it. I went to a major race in Vegas two years ago. We did a bit of research at the event and then began working on a business and marketing plan, and we’ve been at it ever since. It fits really nicely with our brand and it’s a lot of fun because it’s really low-pressure and low-key. The high dollar element that’s present in motocross is not there, so it’s just really fun. As far as our deal with (Ray) Evernham, that actually came through a phone call that was made to Greg Fox about possibly getting their brand involved. At the time they weren’t interested, but Greg asked if we were. Due to my, and a few others involvement in motorsports within Shift, we decided to give it a shot and signed a three-year deal with them.

TWMX: What do you provide to them?

BP: We provide all of the crew gear and clothing. We’re not providing any fireproof gear for them yet, but we are talking about doing that for next season. Right now we’re content with the karting thing and hope to expand our presence in all motorsports when the time is right.

TWMX: We know that you guys have been pretty involved with freestyle motocross. How important is that side of the industry to your business?

BP: It’s real important. You know, that was the roots to Shift, and probably more so than any other apparel brand out there right now. We still do pretty well with it, and the cool thing is that a lot of people are buying it just to ride in and not necessarily to jump. The gear works well, so we’ve put a lot of time and R&D in to that product more than what we’ve let on. As far as the freestyle thing, we actually let it taper off a bit for a while, but we’ve been building it back up. We have a great association with Carey Hart, which by the way, I hope he’s feeling better. I know that he just got hurt at the Huck Jam. We also have Adam Jones who’s a kick ass up-and-comer. So we are looking to expand that for sure.

TWMX: Right on Brian… thanks a lot for your time. Good luck with everything in the future.

BP: Thank you guys… I appreciate it!

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