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We Partner with You. Family Focused Dentistry. Relationship-based Dentistry. Personalized Dental Care. Ease Dental Anxiety. My Smile Makeover. Meet Dr. Caitlin Kudlata, DDS. David Ducommun, DDS. Kid of the Month: London. Artist of the Month. So the marketing department called us the best merchandising company in the sports business, which may in fact have been a better deal. I knew in Nebraska here we had a company called The Buckle. When they finally did, we were running hard.
At that point, the brand had taken off and the brand was just selling everywhere in big, big ways. They jumped on No Fear and we did a lot of business at that time with them. Another ex-moto guy. Again, growing up with Greg … Greg was involved in probably more on the business side of life.
He was involved financially as well as from a management standpoint. Greg always remained very neutral in all of the above. He was a great guy. His life challenges, we all lived through. Obviously, I got hurt and I was back east. Then I moved back out here to California.
It was early nineties. Then I stopped. I just kind of opted out, thinking I wanted to make a bigger difference wherever I am and getting paid. So I was in limbo. Jeff was still doing the sports marketing and transitioning out of the national sales manager position at that time and was taking on the sports marketing side of stuff. We had a production facility. We had a design facility. We had a sports marketing building. Those guys—Mark and Jeff and Brian—to me they were brilliant.
They created some really cool brands. I got a call from ESPN, and right at almost exactly the same time I saw this full-page ad on the back of a magazine out there called Competitor. It was like a Cycle News basically. On the whole back page it just had this color photo of a guy just diving off a bridge like a bungee jump, which was fairly new back then. Live your dream. No Fear. So I called over there, and somehow I got hold of Mary Moates. Want this one? That one? David was a really, really talented designer. He kind of came through that era where Greg Arnett or Oakley [were] tweaking and making little bike parts….
Those guys were into really trick stuff. David had that knack. We were designing a line of auto-racing safety equipment. David would sit down and his nose would be an inch from the paper, and he would just be working. He designed driving shoes and the Driving Force line of driving stuff. He was a phenomenal, phenomenal designer. I was in the art department, which was basically about the size of a tennis court with high ceilings. There was nothing really in there, just a few desks. Don Whitmer showed me how to use the Macintosh. I had a legal pad, jotting stuff down. You guys are edgy. Do something like that.
She made a sleeveless, a short-sleeve, and a long-sleeve cycling jersey all on the kind of popular material. It was all Lycra up until then, and then this made a little bit looser and more edgy. Then a few other companies kind of popped up. I think No Fear and Todd, it was actually their idea to just make a left and see if it worked, and it did. I was always a big David Bailey fan.
I think I bought one of his helmets at an auction from the Trophee des Nations. His brother worked there, too, Mitchell. He was a lot more talkative. David was always nice. He was more to himself. He was more of an introvert than an extrovert, and most people at No Fear were extroverts. David was designing bicycle stuff.
He did a couple different things down at JT. Bicycle shorts, swim shorts, they were everywhere. Mark and Brian were racing cars, I think, at the same time. Then one time for fun at the end-of-the-year party they covered the entire parking lot, which was a pretty good size, with sand, and they put a huge dance floor and made a big stage, and they hired KC and the Sunshine Band. Everyone dressed up. Brian I think won the dressed-up contest.
He had either no shirt or it was unbuttoned all the way down. He had a spraypainted gold necklace with an eight-track tape and super high shoes, just a full-on Saturday Night Fever deal. So they had it full blast. You never really knew what to expect when you went there, other than get your work done and have fun doing it.
I met David when I was, like, 13 years old when his dad was doing school. He came in and he was doing design stuff. He was good. He definitely liked structure. Everything hit. A lot of it was the synergy of everybody. We could walk into a bar and run the place. We could go to a race and run the place. We could go anyplace. Any time we all showed up—and we all showed up percent—we ran the place percent. Everyone wanted to dance with us. Everyone wanted to buy us drinks. Everyone wanted to hang out. It was just the energy and the synergy of it all was killing it. Somewhere along the way it got lost.
I think we used to call it organized chaos. When you put youth, energy, and enthusiasm in a room you get all of the above. That will always transcend time and people in any business, and we had an abundance of it. Thank God it was the nineties. I think half those guys got their wives out of the chicks they hired. I would say they were certainly ripping tear-offs out of there. I was a little too young to be involved in that part of it.
I always kind of played around with the gear and thought it could be better. Jeff Surwall was in charge of all things motorsports. He was similar to me. He saw a problem with the brand. He wanted to get into more technical equipment and authenticate the brand by making a good line of motocross gear. That was right in line with my thinking of coming up with higher price point, higher-quality products that were more designed to support the brand.
There was nowhere to go with it. I was still wearing Fox. Then Jeff came up with, or we all sort of agreed upon, but we came up with that new No Fear symbol. How could I say no to that? Then of course I had the platform to sell it, because I was out there winning races and I could wear it. What I did legally to get out of my Fox contract, I had a clause in my Fox contract that said if I majorly changed my schedule, then my Fox contract basically had to be renegotiated or whatever.
That was the year I switched to supercross only. Then we came up with a business plan with No Fear. So we got all that straightened out and No Fear was good. I talked to Jeremy. Paula [my wife] and I decided to put our money in. So I had to get some outdoor guys and things. The timing was great. It was hard to not want to do it when I had him and I was about to get Travis.
So I picked those guys, and then Stefan Everts. We got the cream of the crop. So full steam ahead. Jeremy loved them. The riders loved them. We did some technical, creative stuff. Gear was kind of stale, so we did some cool things. Adjustable waist and Kevlar in the knees. Just a lot of little things to help market it and help make it a little better. It was accepted and it took off. Those guys—Mark, Brian, and Jeff—to me they were brilliant. I wanted to ride with an American company, as the past French riders never were really accepted.
On top of it, it was with Jeremy and Kevin, so it had a great wow effect. The gear had cool designs; Jerome Mage did it, so a little French touch! It was good for the time—tough pants and heavyweight jerseys. I remember loving the vented sets, especially at Daytona, but when I pull out of my boxes the few sets that I kept, I realized the cotton jerseys were so heavy. The gear has made an such improvement since. Jerome was a big part, the designer. At the time he had earrings and was dyeing his hair different colors. He was kind of cutting-edge but backing it up with results, so it was fine to do whatever you want to do.
I knew what I wanted. We all worked kind of together on it. I funded the moto program. This is a perfect opportunity for us to come up with our own name, our own brand, and our own stuff. He thought that we would be able to use No Fear and their dealers and their dealer network. There were a lot of good things that we could use in partnering with No Fear. But I was also taking a salary from the company as an athlete. So I was an I was an investor, business owner, and I was also an athlete. Jeff and I were kicking along. Everything was going good. Travis Pastrana I was broken.
I was in a wheelchair at the time from an FMX crash. Pretty much every offer went from on the table to off the table. Everyone wanted to see if I could come back, if I could get out of the wheelchair, if I could walk again. It was going to be the first year they were going to do gear. That was, like, the coolest. The number-one dude in the world, your all-time hero, reaches out and actually took the time. It was a really quick call. Cool, man.
I was helping Travis do his stuff. I know he was hurt. I know how you are. So I knew he would be okay—he had the talent, and he was going to be something. I had a really good relationship with Fox. They did all the Terrafirma stuff, and they really built me from the ground up. They were just awesome.
They were also another fun company, at that time especially. We had sort of the dream team. Me and Tortelli, Pastrana, and Windham. This might have been the weirdest story ever, but Fox flew us out there. It was bolted together in different positions. He was always more work than the rest of them put together.
Same thing with Surwall. We went down to see Surwall and handshake on the deal and went from there. McGrath would win the SX title in No Fear gear that first year, which helped quite a bit with sales. The gear really helped revive, I guess you could say, or put some life back in the brand. Like I said, it was so many T-shirts and shorts and just simple things for so long, and then all of a sudden it became relevant in the sport, more so. We had people who were already over the No Fear brand, but the gear helped make it relevant in the motocross end of it.
Motocross is one of those sports. So it was a great hub for the rest of the brand to go around. Back then it was all the percent printed cotton jerseys. You would look at those things and they were like cardboard. All this stuff was going on. We started pushing the envelope with the cut and sew that No Fear was doing, being able to make apparel. I was able to tap into those resources and start making sublimation jerseys. We made our very first technical jersey in Carlsbad. We found sublimation before anybody really knew what sublimation was.
There was a group in Florida that was sublimating stuff. We learned about it pretty quickly, and we just started piecing this thing together. We debuted that in Daytona. It was mesh. We really tried to change some things from a construction standpoint, a materials standpoint, and then the design side of things was just light years ahead of everybody else. It was timeless. That was the main brand. We had a helmet and boots and a chest protector, simple stuff.
The gear part of it grew quick. He came on and he was the brainchild behind the riding gear. I had tried to talk to them about being a part of it, because Fox kind of shunned me. Everyone kind of washed their hands of me in the moto industry when I went truck racing. I grew up seeing him race and raced him toward the end of his career. Jeremy is a great guy and always made me feel welcomed, so it never crossed my mind that I was racing my sponsor. Jeremy, Kevin, and I were the No Fear riders. I loved racing above all, but when I was behind the starting gate, nothing else mattered.
I just wanted to win. If you went down to their warehouse and saw the amount of stuff they had in there, you knew they were blowing up. No Fear did a Super Bowl commercial with me in it. I was on Suzuki and at the L. We did this shoot the week in between that one race at the Coliseum where it was really damn muddy.
We did this shoot at, like, midnight at the Coliseum the week of the supercross. I helped Kevin [Windham] with his very first Yamaha contract back when he was, like, I had known him and his mom and dad forever. He was always just super talented, looked amazing on a motorcycle. Very precise. He was a big part of it and always pretty easy to work with. I am very partial to Jeremy. He got it on and off the track, and he still does.
He still gets it better than anybody in the industry, I think. It was a two-way street that he embraced, and he was freaking good at it. But on the backside of things, Jeff spent a lot of time just talking about things.
There was no question that Jeremy elevated the sport, but he was a personality that everyone could embrace and love. The fact that you had a commercial run in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon based on something that happened was damn exciting back then. There was nothing like that happening. I always looked up to Jeremy. I think I scared him a little bit. My arm got sucked into the back and broke my thumb.
I had no skin on my arm. Even though I eventually raced him, he was just an icon. The gear itself, I was amazed it took off like it did. The chest protector that we did in colors sold amazing. We did those injected plastic colors and clear and different ones with red in them. Those worked great. I remember the year before I sold it, we sold 53, helmets that year. Over 50, helmets. It was definitely the helmets and the chest protector. The gear and the bright colors and doing neon stuff for Travis or camo for Kevin, blues for McGrath.
I think riders appreciated having something different and something special.
They always seemed real appreciative of getting their input. At that point, Jeremy just kind of took motocross to a different level, and I think he made it cool. I think before that it was a gas-station sport, and Jeremy McGrath made it cool to like motocross. Travis Pastrana had the same magic. It had nothing to do with how they finished. It was just something that they had.
I have one of almost everything still in some boxes in bins. There was a red-and-white and blue-and-white vented stuff we had at Daytona that Jeremy wore and Windham wore. I really liked the clean, just stripes down the arm. The gear was really simple white colors with the red and stuff, and the blue on the other set. It was vented. Those looked great. Just sets of each that we were going to sell on Monday. Somehow those two did the parade lap at Anaheim.
We sold every set by like nine in the morning Monday. I was like, I should have made 1, of each, but I was so afraid of buying that much of those colors. We split it up. Every athlete is a franchise, and you would treat them that way. Insurances and contract negotiations and all of this stuff kind of before—this was kind of before the big agents. There was really one or two guys that were kind of doing all the big guys.
These athletes were able to live and make money outside of throwing their leg over their bike. Their ability on the motorcycle allowed them to do all those things, but at some point there is going to be life after racing, and they really started looking down that path and setting their life up to be sustainable once they decide not going to race anymore. There were some gray areas in the agreement, which made it a little more difficult.
They wanted it in dealers only. But I had motorcycle dealers getting frustrated with me. Do it. I was winning. I was taking a salary, but Jeff for some reason thought I should not be taking a salary. So this is where Jeff and I sort of came to a head with the dispute on how the business should be run. I had invested money in the company.
I was part-owner in the company. This is what I do for a job. You could see the end coming. They were in business together. It was difficult for a while there. Jeremy had some opportunities to put jerseys in Walmart with a guy from Pennsylvania who promised him the world with this company called AST. Then he started getting frustrated because I couldn't do it, even if I wanted to.
He started looking around. You can sell it in Kmart, Walmart, Sears, whatever you feel. He decided to go that route, and I wound up buying him out. So basically he said I couldn't do it. At the end of the day, for me and No Fear, I did a lot of growing up with those guys. I was sort of raised around No Fear and the lifestyle.
Even today, Jeff and I have put all that stuff behind us.
No Fear skateboarding. No Fear accessories. No Fear fashion. No Fear skateboarding. Prev. Next. No Fear tShirts; No Fear Footwear. Sign up to our newsletter. What comes to mind when you think of No Fear? Maybe it's the motocross gear that took the world by storm when Jeremy McGrath wore it in.
I love that guy. Jeremy and I are good now. It was years. I was just kind of pissed about it. Yeah, you benefitted our brand and our company and all that a lot, but I never took a cent from you in a decade. I get paid to do this. I understand. And I go to the races with you, so I get it.
There were a few wrong turns that they made, which, we all can sit on the sidelines and kind of try and pinpoint what that was. At one point, No Fear was rivaling a company like Nike. My story is, I have nothing but great things to say about No Fear except for they just ran it too long and ran it into the ground. When he decided he wanted to move on, I had to take measures to preserve it.
I worked to buy him out of a business that basically I owned anyway. I owned the trademark. It was funny. I made a generous, generous offer to buy him out. It was bigger than I should have paid by a lot, and I did pay him a good portion of the money. Unfortunately, not all of it.
The downturn came, and we were unable to keep up with the balance of that. My dad had a falling-out with Jeff, which was odd because he really was on his side hard from the beginning. He liked people that were kind of by their word. No one wants to tell that part of the story. I had a tremendous amount of money coming in. I had done a license deal with Pepsi. We certainly paid all the overhead, because it was done in our facility. We went to dinner together.
We traveled the world together. We were very close friends, as I was with Beaver. But at some point I think it got where he wanted to go off on his own. He and Jeremy had come up with the idea of the Alias brand, or someone did. There was a bit of an epidemic of that going on. I had started working on changing the name and thinking about doing it. Even back in , when I trademarked Alias, which later became a gear brand, I thought of changing it to that. I saw the online sales growing. We were very proud of all of our products. They had stuff that their quality was struggling, in my opinion, or the designs were, but anything they did or I did was tied together.
As they opened stores and cash flow got tighter and tighter for them, their problems became my problems, just because of guilt by association or whatever, because of the name. So it just kind of continued to grow that way. I thought motocross was the base of the brand and the importance of it, and we can grow that part of it a lot.
I had people wanting to buy the business from me, so I started thinking about that. There was an international distributor for No Fear. He was making shit product all over Europe and affecting our sales. He was doing roller skates and golf clubs and anything else he felt like doing. We had no control over it. Why do you have roller skates? When the European guy wanted to buy it, Mark started freaking out because he knew he would do whatever the hell he wanted everywhere.
So Mark decided he wanted to buy it, so we made a deal to have them buy the motocross gear from me. Looking back, I would have made a few changes. If you get on a motorcycle, you will crash. You will make mistakes.
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Mark Simo Two things happened. What can we do to keep this going? So I went down both paths. Nike was interested in buying the brand. One of my great regrets. Jim was a pretty big influence because I really liked what Oakley was doing at the time. Jim was a real creative guy, had great ideas. We struck up a pretty good relationship.
I got into flying helicopters. I got Greg into flying helicopters. I got Stevie Wright into flying helicopters. He started talking to me about making glasses and got us off the ground. Shortly after we started—one of the greatest things ever—Jeremy McGrath was an Oakley guy, and he came over to Spy, and that started a huge war between Jim Jannard and I. Jeremy came over and actually invested money in Spy that helped get it started.