Between the Motos: Chad ZulianWednesday, May 20, 2009 | 8:37 AM
Although it was now many years ago, it seems like just yesterday when I attended an AMA Pro race and saw “OGIO” stickers on many pro rider’s helmets and bikes for the first time. Trying not to appear stupid, I finally asked one of them what OGIO meant. Upon learning that OGIO made some of the best backpacks and gear bags around, and sponsored motocross, I decided that I had to have one. Although I have since upgraded from that original bag, I still have it! Maybe it does not look as “current” as some of their latest offerings, but none-the-less it still performs excellently. Recently we had the chance to catch up with OGIO’s new Motorsports Marketing Manager Chad Zulian to get the lowdown on what’s new.
Chad Zulian: Well, one day I got a random e-mail asking me if I was interested in a job at OGIO, and immediately I knew that I wanted to join. My title here is Motosports Marketing Team Manager, but it has quickly grown into dealing within anything that is action sports orientated. I deal with athlete sponsorships, event sponsorships, media requests, etc. – pretty much anything that Andy Bell is too cool for! Ha-ha, sorry Bell, I had to throw that in. [Andy Bell is VP of Promotions at OGIO, former Canadian FMX Champ, and stars with Travis Pastrana in Nitro Circus]. Previous to OGIO I worked for Parts Unlimited as their Media Coordinator, and later for SPY as their Motorsports Manager. I had recently backed out of the industry, and attempted a “real job” at a marketing agency before getting sucked back into the circus.
Speaking of Andy Bell, before I forget I have to ask you, do you have any funny Andy stories?
Jim, are you sure that Racer X has enough times for those? Also, the naked or non-naked stories? Seriously though, with Godfrey Entertainment right down the street, and the explosion of Nitro Circus on MTV, there is definitely never a dull moment around here! To answer your question though, most of the recent stories can be seen on Nitro Circus, so for those of you that have not seen the show, check it out and you’ll see exactly what I have to deal with on a daily basis.
Okay, back to the serious stuff. What all is OGIO involved in these days?
The company as a whole is involved in so much that it’s really hard to keep up with it all! We’re heavily involved in the Dew Tour, so right there that places us right in the middle of all the action sports – and of course our golf business is huge! We also have deals with many of the different colleges and schools around the country for packs, as well as places like Best Buy for our business packs. We have also worked with many sports teams and companies around the world, so it’s a wide range of participation in many different industries.
Talk a minute specifically about motorsports.
If we are talking solely motorsports, OGIO has been a sponsor of Supercross, Arenacross, and FMX for several years now – along with sponsoring many of the teams and individual riders as well. We help guys such as Travis Pastrana, Robbie Maddison, Adam Jones, Nico Izzi, Mike Alessi, Pro Circuit, Star Racing, and many more. Unfortunately with the economy the way that it is we had to cut back tremendously, and refocus our sponsorship capabilities. Now that the OGIO name is out there so much, we’re really focusing on tying sales into all our promotions and sponsorships to help the business grow. Our sponsorships also expand into different motorsports realms too. We are involved in NASCAR, Road Racing, Off-road Truck Racing, NHRA, Drifting, etc.
I hear that your headquarters' are amazing!
OGIO is based in Bluffdale, Utah, which is about 25 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. We have two facilities, one being solely for warehousing and shipping product out, as well as housing all our corporate offices. The second warehouse has an area set aside for design, and of course our infamous skate park and foam pit – which is something that we like to utilize when there is an event in town, or if our athletes stop by. Just before the Salt Lake City Supercross we had Zero Motorcycles out here, and a course running through the parking lot and warehouse, and into a dirt section. There were a few causalities to road rash, but all in all it was a great time! Kenny Bartram was there flipping the electric bikes into the foam pit, and OGIO’s own Cam McQueen gave it a shot and ended up wheel tapping the ceiling with both wheels.
Tell us about some of the new products that OGIO has come up with.
Well, Mike Pratt [owner and founder of OGIO] is a huge enthusiast, and is always coming up with new ideas on how to make things easier. While riding one day he came up with an idea on how to load a bike easier, as well as putting your bike on the stand much easier after a long day of moto. I really think it’s cool that a “luggage only” known company is taking chances and branching into a new market – especially in these economic times. We have been receiving tons of requests for them ever since the Indy Trade Show – so we’ll see how things go.
What is in OGIO’s future?
As I touched on a minute ago, on the motorsports side, we’re already moving into the “what’s next” segment with the 180 Moto Lift and the new StepUp Ramp, which is becoming available mid June. From there, Mike has already come up with some new ideas. We do have other products in the works which I will soon be informing everyone about. As for me personally, I am very happy where I am at. While I am heavily involved in Motorsports I also have the opportunities to be exposed to many different action sports and athletes, so I am not stuck in any one category.
Any parting thoughts Chad?
I’d just like thank everyone at OGIO for giving me the opportunity to come here and do what I do – it’s a great company to work for. Sometime it can be literally painful, but it’s definitely a good time. Also, keep an eye out for our new stuff in September. I think that people are really going to dig the new colors.
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Check out MY LIFE IN MOTORCYCLE RACINGin our Latest issue of Racer X available now.
Jean-Michel Bayle, the iconic superstar of yesteryear, raced motocross for the first time in twenty-one years at the Vets MXdN in England. Page 126.