Since 2004, Jarrett Austin, owner of Factory Backing, has been serving the motocross industry with his custom, high-quality graphics and decals. TransWorld Motocross has always been a fan of Factory Backing for numerous reasons, but what we didn't know was how he got his start inside the industry. When a broken ankle kept Jarrett off his bike, and his feet, for several months, he realized there wasn't much he could do, except to get a job. Talks about starting a custom motocross graphics company between Jarrett and his brother had always been on their mind, but with his brother's 50cc dirt bike company keeping him busy, Jarrett decided to run with his brother's trademarked name, Factory Backing. Nine years later, the family run business is still alive and well in Temecula, California.
How old is Factory Backing?
It's nine years old.
What inspired you to start this company?
I actually broke my ankle from riding, and it made me get a desk job [laughs].
Were you a pro racer?
Oh, no. I just rode for fun during the weekends.
So, you decided to start your own company instead of getting a job?
Yeah. What basically happened was that my brother had the name already set up because he was going to start the company a few years prior. However, it didn't happen, so I decided to do it.
Is that why you chose to do custom backing?
Yeah. At the time, there wasn't anyone really doing custom backing on the west coast.
What was involved in getting your company going?
I actually sold my house to start the company. After that, I bought the computer and the printers I needed to actually start making some prints.
Do you actually print on the vinyl?
Yeah, what we do is print on top of the sticker, put a laminate over it, and then we cut it out.
Was there a trial and error process?
At first, I didn't know how I was ever going to make any money doing this because the whole startup process was very slow, and expensive.
Back then, printing custom backgrounds wasn't a huge industry. Did that make things hard for you when you were trying to approach vinyl vendors?
I don't know how I ran into them, but I found a company that made some pretty decent stuff. There were a few samples, though, that weren't good at all. Some stuff was too thick and it wouldn't bend, and other stuff was so thin that it would tear off. Some vinyl even cracked when it would freeze!
Did you start out printing just numbers, or did you go right into graphics?
I went right into graphics.
How did you get your name out there?
My brother had a little motorcycle shop, and I started to sell them through there. From there, I did a little bit of advertising, and I sponsored some riders like Travis Baker. I also went to World Mini a few times and made them at the track.
How was that to have a mobile shop? Was it worth it?
No. It's probably one thing I'll never do again [laughs]. I mean, customers keep you busy all day, but with all the dust destroying your equipment, it's not really worth it.
What is your largest customer base?
Mostly it's just direct customers, and then it's our dealers.
We've always liked your product because it goes on easy, the colors are vivid, and it doesn't leave that sticky residue on when you tear it off. Is that a vinyl that you sought out?
We've worked with a few different companies to find that combo, but we actually figured out that sticky residue stuff years ago. I've always messed with the laminate and the glossiness, but I think that we have it all dialed in now.
What's the toughest part about your job, tracing a new bike?
Tracing a new bike, and turning product around in one to two days makes it hard. You never really get a break, except for the summer when it slows down.
Through your nine-year history, what has been the worst bike to put graphics on?
2013 Honda CRF450R plates [laughs].
What's next? Where do you see this industry going?
There are a lot of guys coming into this industry, but I think a lot of those little guys will disappear. I think all of the big guys that have been in this industry for a few years will stay and continue to grow.