Mark Owen is pretty much running the Hoffman Bikes show these days. He started from the ground up and now travels to Taiwan a couple of times a year for Product Development purposes, travels to the contests to meet the riders, is on the phone for International Sales and he does the accounting. FATBMX checked in with Chuck D.
When did you start working for Hoffman Bikes?
I started working for Hoffman Bikes back in 1992.
What was your role in the beginning?
My first role was cleaning and stickering condor frames.
How did it transfer to doing what you do now?
Cleaning and stickering frames lead to helping at BS contests. After, machining and polishing frames became welding frames. Next, building 24’ ramps turned into riding in Sprocket Jockey shows. In 1997, Mat asked me to head up product management. To this day, I still hold the product manager position in addition to general manger, team manager, accounting, international sales, and what ever else needs to get done.
Has Product Development always interested you?
I had always been interested in design, but never gave thought to product development until Mat and Steve gave me the opportunity back in 1997. Since then, I have loved working with the riders and manufactures to design bike parts. It gives me a great sense of pride. It is amazing to see a concept materialize.
What education do you have in this field?
I went from High School straight to Hoffman Bikes. A lot of traveling was involved which did not allow time for further education. However, the hands on experience I acquired at HB was invaluable. I received an education specific to the BMX industry and gained knowledge in every aspect of the business. When we moved production to Oklahoma, I learned the fundamentals of bicycle design; how to machine, polish, weld, plate and use engineering programs.
How is going to Taiwan?
I have conditioned myself for the long plane rides. Some trips are better than others, but you learn to just roll with the punches. I have made some great friends over the years.
How often do you (have to) go?
I visit Taiwan about 4 times a year. Sometimes, I may travel to Taiwan more or less. It just depends on production and new product development.
How much feedback do you get from the H*B riders?
I get tons of feedback from the team guys. Without team rider input the product would not be what it is today.
Do you guys still have the annual product meeting with the team?
Yes and No. Between all the traveling the team riders and myself do, it is hard to get everyone in one place. But, all the contests and demo’s enable me to meet with several of the guys at one time. I am also constantly communicating over the phone and by email.
How do you start on a new product design? Take us from the idea to the final product.
Usually, a conversation starts with the team riders. Someone will suggest a part that they would like to see designed. We discuss features we want and need to make a better product than what currently exists on the market. I create a model of the design and send the model out to the team guys for feedback. Then revisions are made if required. After everyone agrees on the design it is sent to the manufacturers. Each manufacturer reviews the drawing and then we discuss any potential issues from a production standpoint. From there, the manufacturer will produce samples for testing. After testing the sample we are able to fine tune and obtain more samples until everyone approves the new design.
What colours are hot at the moment?
Green is definitely one of the hot colors. We cannot keep our punky green or poo green in stock.
Who all are colour blind at H*B?
Bryan, our graphics man claims to be color blind. I have yet to see medical proof. But, after seeing some of the color combinations he has created I don’t need any proof.
What can people expect at the Interbike trade show from the Hoffman Bikes crew?
Colors, cassette hubs, alloy seat posts, color rims, top-secret products, monkeys and crazy nightlife.
Thanks to Mat Hoffman, Steve Swope, all the team guys past and present, Bryan, Jeff, Clarence, Scott, you the rider for the support and a big thanks to my wife Christie.