Ison Distribution got quite heavily involved in the race scene for 2012, showcasing their house brand Identiti with a bold move into the BMX market from MTB. The team headed up by Dave Franciosy were easily distinguishable with the flouro yellow frames and their large trackside pits presence. We caught up with Dave to find out how their first season went and their plans for BMX Racing going forward….
Talk: So Ison / Identiti’s first season in BMX racing is nearly over..Give us a quick season recap and the highlights of 2012:
This was our first year in BMX and we were aware that being an MTB company we had to make sure that our products were high quality. We are really pleased to have produced some great products and utilized technology from our successful MTB frames into the BMX market. It’s hard to pick just one highlight as this year has provided us with so many but Round 1 at Manchester certainly stands out. It was where we finally saw the plan come together as the bikes and team performed well. The other standout highlight has to be Joey Gough winning the Worlds (rumours of myself shedding a tear or two cannot be confirmed or denied).
BMX Talk: You guys seem to have invested quite heavily in BMX, has your first year gone to plan as far as what you were looking to achieve?
We did put a lot into the team but some of the infrastructure we have had for many years from supporting the MTB teams. We view our entry into BMX as a long term commitment and felt that we needed to do it to the best of our capabilities. We have succeeded in gaining a great profile for Identiti within the BMX scene which was our aim at the start of the year, so yes you could say that it has all gone to plan. In fact we are ahead of where we thought we would be as our BMX products have become very popular over a short period. Being owned by Ison Distribution has enabled us to make our products readily available from bike shops country-wide. We are already seeing good International sales too which is very encouraging.
BMX Talk: What are your plans for 2013? Any new riders on the horizon?
For 2013 we have slimmed down the UK team and are looking to expand our International coverage in Europe, USA and other countries. We are actively supporting our International Distributors in having sponsored riders/teams in their countries. We have signed a new rider From New Zealand called Maynard Peel who we met at the Worlds. He fell in love with the bikes (especially the technology) and shared our passion and vision for the brands. He is now on the International Team to which we will add a few more riders, so any riders out there that want to be a part of Identiti please note that the window is still open.
BMX Talk :We saw you in Caen France with a team set up out there including some French riders, how does that team set up work?
The team was set up by our French distributor, MTBL parts, which is owned and run by Olivier Clerici. Olivier was a top Pro rider in his day and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. As the French scene is so big it was an obvious move and it has proven to have been very good for the brand and brought us great coverage within France.
BMX Talk: We heard you are trying to break into US market for 2013…what’s in the pipeline?
As the USA is possibly the largest and most competitive market getting a firm foothold is no easy task. It’s been something we discussed at length when setting up the BMX program and quickly realised you really need someone on the ground and at the events to showcase our products. As luck would have it that man turned out to be no other than BMX Legend Greg Hill! Greg walked onto our stand at the Worlds and asked to look at our Gusset Woodstock 853 3pc crank set up. He was surprised that it tipped the scales at just over 435 grams ( arms only). We exchanged a few emails but it was not until Interbike where the deal was finally done over a coffee. Myself, Greg and our US Distributor, Preston Martin from BTI (who is a life-long Greg Hill Fan), sat down and thrashed out the details. We are now supporting the GHP team with Halo and Gusset parts ( see attached photo from GHP ) which is something that we are all really excited about. To have someone as legendary as Greg Hill as part of our USA program is something that we could only dream about at the start of the year.
BMX Talk: You guys obviously feel the racing market is a worthwhile investment. How big a part is BMX racing in Ison Distribution’s set up?
Ison is a large company we sell over 30 brands and 9,000 products. As well as having our own in-house Brands including Identiti, Halo and Gusset we also distribute many other quality brands such as ODI, TSG, Deluxe and Dia Compe. Many of these brands have BMX specific products so we see BMX racing as an obvious avenue to promote them. The BMX race market has been a major focus for us this year and will continue to be going forwards.
BMX Talk: If budget was no issue, name 3 riders who you’d have heading up your brand? We know Oggy killed the budget in 2012…
LOL! Oggy has been a great help this year make no mistake. The 3 riders who we would like to see heading up our brand are Tre Whyte, Charlee Green and Jake Power, who incidentally are already on our team for 2013!;-) But for a dream team we would use the unlimited budget to build a time machine and bring (when they were in their prime) Gary Ellis, Eric Rupe, Tim March and Greg Hill to the future. Yes I know it’s 4 riders but how could we leave out Tim March?
BMX Talk: You were involved in Silent Revolution, how did that come about?
That’s quite a funny story actually! I got a phone call at work from a guy who said he was from the Extreme Sports Channel. I was quite dubious to his authenticity as plenty of my friends regularly wind me up. Putting that aside (luckily) I had a good chat with him and it became clear that he was serious. We arranged to meet at Round 1 and from there started working closely together. Unfortunately they were stopped from filming at the Nationals which created a dilemma as they had signed up to do 13 shows. We stepped in by taking them to France and Germany as well as other team days to help them gather the required amount of footage. It proved to be a good move as we had lots of fun and gained great coverage.
BMX Talk: Are there plans for another series?
Yes and we have been asked to take part again in 2013 which we are very pleased about. I know that some haters were throwing the “it’s an Identiti Show” comment around this year but the opportunity was there and open to just about anyone. We were pro-active and grasped it with both hands. We can’t be held responsible for other’s inactions. We are already looking forward to more fun in 2013 filming the next series.
What have been your favourite events this season?
Easy! The Worlds was amazing. Being there when Joey Gough won her World Title was truly special. Seeing so many talented riders from around the world racing on a very good track was spectacular. We also got to meet many old friends and make some great new ones. None of us should forget that we are privileged to be part of such a great sport and community.
BMX Talk: How does the BMX race scene compare to the MTB scene?
Very similar although there are far more parents and families supporting riders at BMX events. The level of competition is similarly fierce and both have some very talented individuals.
BMX Talk: Any final shout out and thanks?The biggest thanks must go to Lloyd Townsend (MD at Ison) as without his support (and design knowledge) none of this would have been possible. All of the brands who have supported us this year: Identiti, Halo, Gusset, TSG, ODI, Simon at Extra (Tioga), Monster Energy, Answer, Drift Cameras, 365 Skins, Kellie at Madison (Shimano), Fox and One Industries. Johnathan at Twenty24. Greg Hill and Preston Martin. All of our team riders and their parents for great support.