Dec 4, 2009

Back from California

45 minutes in my American Airlines flight back to Chicago from Santa Ana. Pretty empty flight, I have my row with enough space to unload my laptop, iPhone and magzines. The flight attendant just served my orange juice and I switched on Steve Matthes' podcast with his fellow Canadian and all time good guy in MX, Allan Brown. I always really enjoy bench-racing with Allan at the races and outside.

Time to kick back for me and think about the last 3 days in the Orange County.
I had a few targets this week, one was a very important sales meeting with Denver's Fay Meyer Motorsports who are an important client for Dainese, the other was to finalize the AGV deal with one of our motocross rider for 2010.
The sales meeting went well and we scheduled more meetings in Denver later this month and in February in order to train the shop sales team. I "inherited" Colorado and New Mexico as additions to my territory and I will be spending more time there this upcoming year, especially with the AMA Outdoor National, the Motocross Des Nations and some of the Mountain-bikes events I will attend, like Crankworks.

On the AGV motocross sponsoring side, we are making good progress.
Rider X had already tried our MT-X helmet (the new AGV entry level) and we had mostly agreed on conditions but still needed to meet to finalize his helmet fitting. It is very important for us that the riders have the right fitting and feel comfortable when riding with our helmets, be it blazing through whoops on an SX track, or clocking 199 mph at the Indianapolis Motorsports Speedway.

Early on Tuesday morning, I got in my rental car and drove South from Irvine, towards Corona. They had given me the right direction but I did still get lost a little bit, after a quick coffee and snack stop at the AM/PM. I drove through a few dry and dusty SoCal hills before I found a small supercross track, with whoops very close to metal fence which appeared to be the KTM track, then another beautiful one, on top of a hill, with small palms, which was the Yamaha track. Of course I finally found where I was supposed to be and spend time with Rider X, working on things, discussing stuff and making sure he feels comfortable and happy with not only our products but working with us.

The MT-X is not the helmet we want him to mainly race with, although it will be an alternative in some cases, because we mostly want to promote our new carbon/Kevlar/fiber helmet, the AX-8.
This is a very cool new lid, pretty light, strong venting features and I would say, without being biased, although I do work for the brand :-), very comfortable (photo below)

Now, we don't really know which of the 2 helmets this Rider X will want to wear in the end, as we've noticed with James Stewart who prefers to wear the lower end Bell helmet instead of their high-end Moto 8.I believe that in the end it's a matter of what the rider feels comfortable racing and blazing through the whoops with. We are just here to make it as perfect as possible for them.

After a few bench-racing chats and checking him ride, I left Rider X and his wrench to drive (fly) back to Costa Mesa for some important office work and follow up.

Things got better for our return to MX on Wednesday morning when another rider, let's say Rider XX, agreed to work with us in the next seasons. This one is particularly rewarding for me, because I really like working with Rider XX and believe that Rider XX is very good not only on the track but especially outside, in the "real" world, where that rider has a strong following and gets a lot of (deserved) respect. I'll be sending helmets for testing to Rider XX tomorrow.

Yesterday, I worked in the office, following up on some of my accounts and clients, Getting things set for 2010, following up on orders and deliveries. Steve Rapp, one of our road racing rider and a good buddy of mine, and his girlfriend Circee, flew in Santa Ana, in his Cirrus single-engine airplane for lunch. They took me to a pretty good Mexican restaurant in Irvine, right by the airport. Good bench-racing lunch, talking 2010 and what options are there for Rapper. After lunch I took them back to the airport and walked with them to the plane, sat in the Cirrus, checked the equipment, held the stick, missed flying again. Well, later, again, for sure.

A very positive trip to Southern California indeed, and it got much better when I received an email this morning as I was going through security at SNA. It was an offer for another rider (let's call him Rider XXX because he is a real big part of the sport). I am not sure that we can do it and work with him in 2010 (and beyond) but there is no doubt that in the next 3 days I'll be scrambling, lobbying and doing anything possible to find the right budget to sign Rider XXX.
This is the kind of offer that any sales & marketing person and action sports company owner cannot pass on. So you can bet that I won't be sleeping for 3 days but scratching my head and pulling the last bit of hair I have left, to make it work.

Hopefully one day I will be able to tell you who are Rider X, Rider XX and Rider XXX but I can tell you that it's not Josh Hill, with whom we came very close to a deal that unfortunately didn't materialize because he was signed head-to-toe by a fox head... :-)