BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BARI WAALK–JULY 26
This week we met up with Mechanix Wear?s Bari Waalk. In between a tour of the Mechanix Wear facility, looking at the many different pairs of gloves that are made, and taking a ride in the company Hummer H2, we nabbed an interview with Bari. Here?s what the man with the silver glove had to say.
Can you give us a brief history of Mechanix Wear?
Many of the employees that are here today are employees that were here when it was AXO. We take great pride in the fact that when we stopped being AXO we retained all of the employees and we found places for them at Mechanix Wear. There are a lot of dirtbikes and pickups in our parking lot because everybody rides. When supercross season comes in January you can?t get enough comp tickets here because everybody wants them! We?re just like any other motorcycle company. While the business has grown, we?ve still remembered where we came from.
How many gloves do you offer?
You also sell other products that aren?t as popular yet as the gloves, such as t-shirts and umbrellas. Where is the company headed as far as growth and opportunities?
As we reach new markets and more people discover our products outside of motorsports, we create new opportunities. Anyone with a toolbox is our customer and we know that plumbers, electricians, and all kinds of people have toolboxes. Most of those people also participate in recreational activities such as riding dirtbikes or jet skis or something else, and while they?re exposed to our brand, they might not know that our products work for their application. As they discover that and as we make them aware of that then our business will continue to grow.
What exactly does your job entail?
Some mechanics elect to work on their bike without any gloves for numerous reasons. Now is your time to pitch why these people should wear gloves, but more specifically Mechanix Wear gloves.
Now people are using Mechanix gloves for so many other things that just auto mechanics, and it?s really because it?s a second layer of skin. There?s nothing else quite like it. We didn?t create a new technology, we just addressed a need that no one else could identify, and we made it okay to use the product. Now you see mechanics using the gloves at all types of professional levels ? from a guy at a pit stop to a guy at a local car dealership working on your vehicle or even a road worker wearing gloves holding a stop sign. We made it okay for guys to wear gloves.
Mechanix Wear is one of the few companies that offer products for motocross and NASCAR, so you must have an opinion on this question. Will motocross ever reach the same mega-buck plateau as NASCAR has?
I see outside sponsors, organized teams, the efforts to get the race on television and having it televised on the right time of the day. I also see motocross icons being used in advertisements for companies outside of motocross. I see them in the mall and I wouldn?t expect to see James Stewart or Jeremy McGrath on a poster outside of the sport, but I do. That?s not unlike what NASCAR did and I think that?s good. With the right sponsors you?re going to see more and more of the sport.