TWMX All Access: Stomp Designs

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Ten years ago, Dave Molinari and Paul Longo set out as partners to create their own company, Stomp, building deck-top traction pads for snowboards. As Dave explains, “Our whole plan when we started the snow thing was to be able, within two years, to go to Valdez, Alaska and go heli-boarding.

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Now a decade later, they’re well established in the snowboard world, making their own line of pads, as well as for shops, resorts, and OEMs. But a funny thing happened to the original plan. “We got to the point where we could do the trip we wanted in about three years…but then it was, ‘Do I spend that money on one trip? Or do I buy another bike and start riding like crazy?’ Ever since I was four years old I’ve been riding motorcycles in the desert. I was also never able to focus on one thing. Surf, snow, skate…I do it all. I came to the realization that I was best at motorcycle riding, and it’s my favorite thing to do. So I got the bike, and started riding like crazy. Snowboarding kind of got ruined for me as a sport because I felt like I was supposed to be working if I was on the hill. So I was reluctant to drop into the motorcycle market and ruin the hobby, but I’ve got it under control.”

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As Dave recalls, they also got a lot of help in the early days from Paul’s brother Tony. “If it wasn’t for Tony, we wouldn’t have any of this. I quit a good job being an industrial instrumentation rep, just to learn the CAD/CAM system, and in the hope of starting a company, not knowing what. Unlike most employers, he was cool enough to let us kind of go nuts and learn. At the end of the day he’d give us the materials and let us use the machines. Go ahead, play, do what you want and figure it out. Within two years it went from being a drain on him and an employee, to being a customer. Now we pay him for machine time. The big CNC machines are his, and the molding machines are ours. We’ve acquired equipment over the years, especially for what we need.”

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But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Stomp isn’t just for snowboards any more. Dave’s personal and professional interests merged on a famous trail ride. “I met Tony (Megla, who was a long-time designer for Factory Effex) at the Nevada 200 about three or four years ago, and we got to talking, and that’s when we brainstormed this idea. He said, ‘Hey, did you ever think about using your Stomp pads as traction on the bike?’ I knew it would work because I’d seen the grip tape out there, so we decided to start playing with it. Two-and-a-half years later, now we’ve got the thing going. It’s not like we’re starting from scratch with regards to the nuts and bolts of making the business run. We’ve got all that.”

In addition to a variety of responsibilities like making molds, and getting production running in the morning, Dave is also in charge of drawing up the new products in a CAD program. “It’s a lot of work even just designing where the bumps go. A year ago we were molding one sheet and die-cutting it out. The problem was, you had square edges, you had bumps cut in half or too close to the edge. So now each piece has its own mold. Now it’s got the radius edge on it, and engineered bumps in the right spo. Tony goes out and traces bikes and figures out the patterns so I get a layout to work with. I pull them in as Illustrator files and then bring it into a CAD system and do what I’ve got to do to turn it into an actual part.”

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The profile of the bumps on a lot of the new products has also changed to be slightly less aggressive. “All the tank shroud kits are now this lower-profile bump. It actually wears better. Certain racers want the big tall one, but they end up wearing down to the height of this new style bump pretty quickly. These also actually get more surface area, so they actually wear a little better. But down at the ankles, and up on the tank shrouds, it offers plenty of grip, but seems to be out of the way unless you really want it.”

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“The new thing that’s on the street right now from us are the tank shroud kits. Some people ride forward, they don’t really want the airbox or the side panels. Other people want everything. The pros actually get back in the whoops, and they’re further back on the bikes.”

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“We’ve been building molds like crazy. Basically in one year I’ve built more motorcycle molds than I have in ten years of snowboarding. It’s been pretty gnarly. We’ve finished up all the current bikes with all the side panel kits. That includes airbox, side panels, frame rails. Now I’ve gone through and finished all the tank shroud kits for all the bikes.”

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“We also opened Stomp Design Europe this year in the Czech Republic, so we have our own warehouse there. That’s helped grow our snow program in a big way.”

“Right now moto is probably 20 percent of our business, just because it’s only been on the market for a year. But it looks like it’s going to overtake our snow business pretty quickly.”

“We’ve been working with the California Superbike School, developing the sport bike tank kits, so I’ve got to do all the bikes. The whole snowcross thing popped up, too. They’re running it along the side gunnels. So now we sponsor Warrant Racing, which is the biggest Ski-Doo factory team. They’re claiming it’s taking three seconds off their lap times. It’s just blowing up in all directions. There’s also quads…I’ve got to make all the quad kits. Western Powersports is a distributor of ours, and they’ve got their quad catalog coming up. So I’m making this new universal sheet that can be used on snowmobiles and quads. Also any of the custom motorcycle applications.”

“We’re growing so fast, we’re having the usual growing pains, but it’s all coming in line. The product has really stepped up in quality in a year. We’ve gotten a lot of things figured out. It was a big hurdle to get the materials correct, the adhesives correct, and the process correct. It’s a much tougher application than the snowboard thing. Even that took years to perfect.”

“Like a snowboard pad is a flat thing that just sticks down and it’s done. Where this stuff is basically like a tire. You wear it out and replace it…so there’s repeat business that we don’t have in the snowboard world.” Of course, Dave and Paul also appreciate that they’re not faced with about four months of the year that they’re not shipping anything, due to snowboarding’s seasonality.

“The carbon frame guards are the next product. They have recessed areas that our grip lays into. It lasts longer because you’re not beating up on the edge. When you do wear it down, just peel it out and slap in a new piece of Stomp grip, and you’re off and running.”

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“We’re also in development of a seat cover with Stomp grip incorporated in the side panels for gripping with your knees. The feedback on that has been really good.”

So what does the future hold for Stomp? For Dave, it’s all about retaining their focus. “We’re all about traction. As far as Stomp goes, we make traction pads. In the past we’ve delved into other things, and have found that we’re best to stick with our niche…the things we do best that we do ourselves. We’ll have a few peripherals, we are an accessory company. But shops are used to buying bags from a good bag guy, and clothes from a big clothing manufacturer. We’ll stick with our niche.”

Contact:

Stomp Traction Pads
P.O. Box 2744-252
Huntington Beach, CA   92647
(714) 894-9388
www.stompdesign.com

Sponsored by:
Stomp goes, we make traction pads. In the past we’ve delved into other things, and have found that we’re best to stick with our niche…the things we do best that we do ourselves. We’ll have a few peripherals, we are an accessory company. But shops are used to buying bags from a good bag guy, and clothes from a big clothing manufacturer. We’ll stick with our niche.”

Contact:

Stomp Traction Pads
P.O. Box 2744-252
Huntington Beach, CA   92647
(714) 894-9388
www.stompdesign.com

Sponsored by: