Let me introduce you to Tony Degollardo better known in the game as Tony D. The man behind a brand with a very cool logo called Alius .You’ll recognise him from podcasts if you follow www.daleholmes.com . Tony has been around the block having been in the industry for ever. He headed up the Haro brand for a number of years befor more recentlye working for brands like Alienation, FA and now heads up BMX over at Kenda. He’s still got time to juggle his own project which is still fairly new but getting a following on in the US and definately gaining momentum. With that said I thought it was about time that we should profile them on BMX Talk so the UK readers can see where the brand has come from, what it’s about and where you can get it from. We caught up with Tony to get the lowdown on Alius and here’s what he had to say:
So Tony let us know how Alius started, where the inspiration and name came from?.
Alius- the idea of doing a parts brand originally came from Jason Donnell and myself…we had spoken about it for 5 or so years, but I was tied to Haro Bikes in my role there. When I left Haro, I felt I had made alot of great contacts in Asia and some really good friendships with some International Distributors and bike shops/dealers here in the USA.
I had no money to start a brand, but I knew if I was to let the dream die, all those relationships I had both here and overseas would probably dissolve. So I hit up Jason Donnell and spilled my guts. Told him what I had bottled up in my head and begged and pleaded for him to loan me the money. He did…but for 50% of the company. The money he contributed was just enough to start a brand, but not enough to fully float a brand…which was $20,000usd. Our first order came out to nearly $18,000, and the rest was spent on the paperwork for setting up the business, website (that I fail to maintain) getting the logo and name drawn up, etc…
We had ordered product before the name was even confirmed…but there was always one name that stuck out in my mind…Alias. The name came to me before the TV show and well before I ever had thoughts of starting a brand. When I was working at Haro the first time, Dave Mirra (who I pretty much worked for..he and Ryan Nyquist) was thinking about leaving the clothing company he was with at the time and wanted to look at other options. I was (and still am) really good friends with Jeff Surwall of No Fear Motocross fame. I always admired what Jeff did and wanted to follow in his footsteps in one way or another…or do a brand with him, so I pitched him on an idea I had regarding Dave: “Why don’t we bring Dave to No Fear and create a line of clothing just for him, but it NOT be No Fear…let’s make it an Alias of No Fear…or lets just make it Alias!”. So we looked up the meaning of Alias and it made sense..it was another name for the same thing. It was going to be No Fear, but with a different name.
Fast forward 2 weeks and that whole idea had dissolved because I think Fox had caught wind of something going down and made everything right with Dave…
So did you keep hold of the name?
When it came time to do this parts brand with Jason, I was really into changing the spelling of words. Alias just didn’t look right to me…it looked boring and standard. I wanted something a little more digital and space looking, so I came up with Alius. It just clicked and away we went. Now, we had a name, but no logo. By the grace of GOD, Dwayne Taylor and I had got in touch again and we were talking about what we were upto, etc… I told him what I was doing and that I needed a logo, etc.. Then he said “give me a try, I bet I come up with something for you”… I was at a loss and said “Please!!!!”. I explained that I wanted a logo that would be recognized without saying the name… Literally a half hour later he hit me back with the current Alius logo. Right there and then I knew it was perfect. That was it. I sent it to Jason and he said “Holy Shit…that’s awesome!!!”. We were sold.
Easy as that! So what were your first products?
Our first product was hubs…actually, I lie. It was supposed to be wheels, forks and bars, but they took too long to arrive. But our hubs were ready in about 45 days. I had worked with this previous hub maker while I was at Haro. For 2.5 yrs and another year or so working elsewhere, I had remained in contact with them sending samples and drawings back and forth. Chris Raceles and I discovered this type of hub system when we visited Taiwan one time… it was a one pawl system on a road bike. it was in the Lobby of the factory and I happened to spin the cranks and it made a very “Chris King” type of sound. We immediately stopped what we were meeting about and changed the direction to focus on that hub system.
It took a few years to get it to where it is now…or to a point where I was comfortable enough to order them for production…man…these hubs have caused sooooo much grief for me and Alius. Not because of performance issues, but because everyone thought it was “THEIR” hub. I discovered it while at Haro, and continued working with the hub maker after I left…so both Haro and I thought we were the only two people working on it. But DK was working on it as well as Sun Ringle. I think one other brand was working on it too, but I cant remember who it was. Because of this, I had companies here in the USA call the hub maker and tell them that I was a bad person, I stole designs, I was a terrible business person, etc… But what these companies failed to realize is that I prepay for all my orders when they actually owe people money, I had grown business for specific brands in Asia while some of these other brands decreased business, etc… They literally tried to blackmail the hub brand and said “if you sell to Alius, we wont work with you anymore”. I thought that was pretty shitty…but I kept minding my own business and just ordering as I could and pre-paying for everything to keep my relationships strong and healthy in Asia.
Paying your bills and keeping your head down has obviously worked as your still here?
Exactly, here we are, two years later and all is well…but I was overworked and Jason Donnell had bigger fish to fry with his other businesses. So I went looking for more day-to-day help and a buddy of mine said he was interested in becoming a part of the brand. Over a couple of beers at the local watering hole, Derek Sipkoi became 1/2 owner of the brand and honestly injected it with some good ideas and motivation. Derek is way better at the fundamentals of business than I am, so having him watch over the money and grow that side of the brand while I maintain the relationships and geek out on products seems to be working. Jason is still involved, but at a smaller level as he doesn’t have much time to spare for the brand with everything else he has going on.
Alius is still growing and we have some really cool stuff in the works. Derek is on it along with his own brand Dkoi Bikes and together we are making it fun. There are some changes in the works for Alius, but nothing too drastic. But Derek has his sights aimed high and he’s financially strong enough to achieve it… I think I’m just along for the ride now. haha…
Thanks for the heads up Tony. Good luck with the brand in the future. We’ll keep an eye out for sure!
You can check out and Like Alius BMX Brand on Facebook to see all their products. Also www.aliusbmx.com
You’ll also be able to catch up with Tony D at the Worlds in Birmingham as he’ll be maning the Kenda tryres stand during the Championships so head over and say hello.