This week’s Wednesday Wrench is the second in a series spotlighting our sponsors. Meet Bart Hayes, the man behind Powersport Grafx. Read on to hear his take on the current competition- and what’s in store for his business.
Hi Bart! How are you doing today?
Man, I’m working all the time! Business is good for us, and we’re about to wrap up this building project that we’ve had going on for the last couple years. We’re really excited about that. So, with business being good since December, and this new building, I’m really hopeful for the future.
That sound’s awesome! So you’re building a new facility?
We’re building a facility to move all of our companies in to. That’s taking a lot of time right now. We’re going from 12,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. It looks like we’ll be able to close and get into it in the next 60 days.
Wow, that’s a really big place, then. It’s really exciting.
We think we’re going to have a real destination for people. We’ll also have 19 acres for a practice track.
With all of that, it sounds like you’re pretty busy even without the Snowshoe GNCC right around the corner.
Snowshoe is always a big deal for us. We’ve done quite well there with our riders. Last year the top three were all PG riders.
Two years ago you helped bring over David Knight to compete at Snowshoe, are you cooking up any surprises for this year’s event?
No surprises this year! Unfortunately, I’m not even going to be able to attend this year. KTM is a great customer of ours and they have their dealer show the same weekend. I have to be in Minneapolis on Sunday morning.
That stinks! I’m sure a lot of people will be disappointed.
I’m really devastated. That’s probably the most fun GNCC of the year. The people from the West Virginia Department of Tourism do such a good job. That’s really a world class destination. But we are going to have a presence there with a display and we’ll have a bunch of riders there, like JG Off Road of course.
Let’s talk a little bit about PG. What’s the main focus of your company?
The main focus of our company is to supply graphics to riders and dealers out there that are enthusiasts. We cater to the off-road market. I’ve been into off-road since I was 10 years old.
When did you start up the company?
We started officially in January 2003.
How have things changed for you in the industry since you first started?
It seems like the demographics for top riders are getting younger. Back in the late 90s, it was the older guys that were excelling at the sport.
Why do you think there’s been this switchover to the younger crowd?
There are a lot of reasons for that. The tracks were very technical back then with a lot of single track, and it put a lot of emphasis on technical skill instead of outright speed. It’s a lot faster now and they actually do race for 3 hours. In the past that wasn’t always the case. The riders today have to be more physically fit then they had to be in years past.
Has this caused any changes for PG?
We are seeing younger riders. The demographics have changed. There’s more of a motocross mentality that comes in and the dads are really getting involved in the sport. One thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s still a family sport and that’s probably the most refreshing thing. Pretty much at the end of the day everyone comes off the track with a grin on their face. Even the competitors are friendly with each other, and even with the growth we’ve seen it’s still one big family. I always look forward to going to the GNCCs. At the end of the day it’s always about the people. We have built tremendous friendships through our involvement in GNCC. We feel like we’re part of something that’s not just business. That’s what makes this sport so much fun. It certainly makes you want to come to work every day.
I was watching an interview with Digitaloffroad.com’s Jared Bolton and you were talking about your rider support program. When did Rider Support become a component of PG?
From the very first. We can’t do what we could in the past because of the economy but it’s still an important component. We work with all the clubs that we can and the regional series to give back to the sport. It truly is one of those situations that you reap what you sow. Because it’s a fun sport and a fun industry to be connected to it means that much more. Everyone we’ve helped over the years has really paid off.
What are some of the results you’ve seen?
Even though we’ve done a lot of advertising, the best advertising you can do is word of mouth. The exposure that you can get by helping a guy that truly needs the help, that just goes a long way. The off road riders are a very appreciative, loyal core of riders. We try to repay that by putting out a quality product that is cost effective for the customer.
Why did you make the decision to sponsor JG Off Road?
It was kind of a no-brainer with JT. Gretchen and JT are both really enthusiastic about what they’re doing and they get a lot of exposure. That reflects well on our company. It’s easy to trust JT’s program because he’s always going to represent the sponsor well. We were ready to support them before the big announcement, but the Honda thing was just a bonus. If we can help JT be successful, that will be good for the sport. And if it’s good for the sport it’s good for us.
What kind of support do you provide to the team?
Basically just product. It’s a two way street. I feel like JT trusts that we’ll do the right thing and keep them supplied with whatever they need so they can represent their other sponsors the proper way. When we design a graphic at the first of the year, they tell us what logos go on there, and we’re close enough to the sponsors that we know where they expect their logo to be placed on the bodywork- so that’s not that much of an issue. Sometimes you run out of room, and that’s when we go back to JT and talk about him.
Is the majority of the support you provide at the beginning of the season or is it the entire year?
Most of the time, sponsor logo placement is set at the beginning of the year, and then after that it’s a matter of reprinting the kits. If they have a request partway through the year, it’s really not an issue. We’ll go to Crawfordsville at the end of the year, and we’ll do the breast cancer awareness graphics, which will be unique. Everything’s digital these days it’s not that big of a deal.
Can we expect any big product announcements for next year?
We’ve got a couple new things after the summer break. I think there’s a possibility that we’ll be able to get some new projects going. The big thing will be our facility and we will open that up to everyone for next year’s Steel Creek GNCC. We’ve got some good prominent placement with a lot of the top teams. Certainly being associated with JT has been a winning proposition for us the past few years. We wish them continued success in the coming years and expect to stay with them. They represent the sport well, and again, what’s good for the sport is good for our company.
Bart, it was great talking to you today. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We’d like to thank everyone involved in off road racing, the sponsors, all the people and certainly all the people that have been loyal to us. It means so much. It’s great to be involved in such a fine sport.
Thanks so much for taking some time out to talk to us!