You eventually went on to work at Hinson Clutch Components and then VP Racing Fuels. How did those transitions come about?
I stepped away from racing for about two years. I moved to New York, but I was a Cali boy. I was looking for any excuse to come back. I contacted Wayne Hinson and they got me in contact with Ron. I said, “Please give me an interview. Give me an excuse to fly back to California.” He did, and I became inside sales for Hin- son. I developed an amateur rider sup- port program with 5,000 national amateur support riders. Then I got mixed up with Gary Jones, and he knew the vice presi- dent of VP Racing Fuels. I did about a year and a half of inside sales. They pro- moted me to race fuels manager, and I did that for about five years. There was a lot of traveling, and it got a little taxing once I got to 30 years old and I had met my now-wife. Next thing you know I got a job offer in the petroleum commercial world with Shell Oils and Lube. That as- sured me my weekends back. You spend some time away from racing and you start to miss it. I got a phone call ran- domly from a headhunter for ETS. I was familiar with the brand. They were serious about what they wanted to do in the U.S. Next thing you know we are where we’re at now.
What are some of your responsibilities at ETS?
I’m in charge of all fuel sales in North America. That includes sales, setting up teams, dealers, distributor networks, mar- keting, and advertising.
What are some of the advantages of using a race fuel? Why should the average weekend warrior choose ETS?
One, it’s storage purposes. The longevity and shelf life of that fuel is high. There is no draining the tank and getting the fuel out of the lines. There are definite degrees of race fuel. There’s low level up to that high level. The low level is set for the enthusi- ast. It’s more of a price point, and it stores well. There’s an advantage of peace of mind that when you get back on your vehicle or start it up, it’s going to start. There won’t be a mechanical startup issue.
Two, at the end of the day, to know you spent all this money on your dirt bike, are you going to cheap out on your boots and your helmet? No, you’re not. It’s the same idea on your fuel. You want to run something you know is good for the engine. It condi- tions the engine. It’s not bad for the fuel line/valve train area.
On the race level, we do what we can to win. For example, for fuel injection, you have mapping. Or a guy likes to run an exhaust pipe. That can cost about $1,000, where if you just poured in this race fuel, you’re going to get a 1 to 2 horsepower gain depending on what ratio you go with. It’s cleaner and better for the engine. ETS’s claim to fame is that it lasts so much longer. It’s also one of, if not the leader, in cleanest-burning race fuels, and they are a green, forward-thinking company. Also, on the high level, our fuel does not boil. That’s why we are the chosen fuel for Roger De Coster and KTM/Husky/ GasGas. That’s huge for a DNF issue.
A lot of marketing and even riders’ comments are geared toward components such as tires, handlebars, or even gear lines. Why do we not hear more about fuel? How does ETS market in order to make the public aware of its importance?
ETS has been in the States winning championships for KTM since 2013. Most people in the industry don’t even know that. We need to bridge the gap in the industry of the understanding. Fuel is unfortunately out of sight, out of mind. Without race fuel, these programs would have major performance issues. This year we’ve taken out more market- ing dollars. We’ve switched things up in order to get our product out there. It’s taking a little bit of time, but we’re taking definite steps to work more with engine builders, teams, and media outlets.
What supercross teams are you currently working with?
The KTM Group [KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas], Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM- WPS, AEO Powersports, Team Tedder, Team Solitaire/Nuclear Blast Yamaha, Freddie Noren, Scott Meshey, and we’re talking and testing with some other teams.
What is the goal for ETS over the next six months to a year?
Right now, it’s growing the brand in the motocross segment. That’s our bread and butter. Globally, we are well known in Glob- al Rally Cross. Factory Toyota, Ford, and I believe Nissan just switched over to us on the European side. We definitely have an involvement in the automotive world. This year we’re connecting the brand with the motocross segment, making it stronger, developing a national dealer base, and then creating enough momentum to get into the off-road and automotive road seg- ment. I want to do a better job of making ETS a household brand in motocross. In America we are very brand loyal. The consumer is so used to “Hey, VP is the brand.” We only drink Coke. They don’t know Pepsi is available. We are like Pepsi- but better. I want to represent the brand in a way that shows the consumer there's a better choice out there. Just one sip and you'll see!
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Today in our marketing meeting, we talked about the fact that I went to A3 and I’m talking to people about ETS. They asked, “What’s ETS?” It’s KTM’s fuel. Roger loves our stuff. They had no idea. Roger has his choice of anything, and he chooses ETS.