MPN Magazine November, 2007 by Brienne Thomson
Scorpion launched its Exo helmet line just three and a half years ago like a slingshot on a mission. The brand immediately caught the attention of dealers at the Indy Dealer Expo in 2004 — live scorpions tend to make a lasting impression — and while the stingers may have attracted dealers to the Scorpion brand, it’s the helmets that kept them rolling in. "We can’t get them in as fast as we can sell them," says Chris Stevenson, one of Scorpion’s freelance sales reps, at the recent opening of the company’s 62,000 square-foot warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. The new facility compliments the company’s west coast warehouse/headquarters in Lake Forest, California, allowing Scorpion to speed shipping times. Scorpion Sports has covered heads from coast to coast and even up into Canada, but now they have expanded south of the neckline with the introduction of ScorpionExoWear™ — a new line of jackets, gloves and casual apparel.
An Idea Hatches
But before giving you a tangible taste of what they’ve created on the apparel side, it is necessary to get a handle on how this company went from a helmet mold to apparel sold in the time it takes a decent bottle of brut to age. Scorpion’s founder and VP of sales and marketing, Eric Anderson says, "Mr. Park has produced products for me for 25 years," of Jang Park, the man whose idea spearheaded Scorpion Sports. "He’s been around, I’ve been around." “Been around” is a bit of an understatement: Park owns seven apparel factories, a tannery, a helmet factory and has produced gear for Hein Gericke, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Spyder, Helly Hanson, FirstGear and a plethora of other private-label action sports companies for the past 30 years. Why would a man who controls the needles and thread of so many big brands throw a little competition into the mix with a brand of his own? "Lately I have been producing for BMW; I’m producing for Harley; I’m producing for Dainese; I’m producing for Alpinestars — all kinds of big brand names around the world, but I thought having our own brand could bring a different level of excitement," explains Park. "I said, ‘Come on, let’s try!’ I’m not going to work forever. This can be my last my last push. So I did it, and I’m so happy!" exclaimed Park as we floated down the Ohio River on the Belle Of Louisville with the Scorpion staffers following the apparel premiere. You may find yourself asking if the Scorpion line is a bit of a conflict of interest for Park, but that’s a moot point to Park and Anderson since they’ve targeted a niche that remains untouched by the private labels produced in Park’s factories.
Scorpion Goes Bad Ass
With their helmet success in the bag, the been-there-done that trio of Park, Anderson and Harley/IFW veteran Rick Miller, along with brand manager and former Icon GM, Randy Northrup, have dropped the green flag on ScorpionExoWear™. For their apparel inauguration, they chose to design their collection for the ever-expanding American sportbike market. "We wanted a targeted, focused, very easily manageable collection to launch with," says Anderson. "Something that’s somewhat different, but is also meat and potatoes." The collection caters to the trendy, tattooed 20-something members of the American àla mode culture. It was initially inspired by an MIC Symposium where Anderson sat in with a Generation-Y research group. He learned that Y-ers define motorcycles as “bad ass” — the term that spawned the styling of ScorpionExoWear™. "We’re healthy young Americans at this brand. But ‘bad ass’ is a design style that's been around since the Wild One," he says. "It’s a feeling in our advertising. It’s a feeling that the Calavera graphic gives; that the flames and the skulls give. It’s truly ‘bad ass’ —not a corporate attempt at being bad ass. That’s our driving theme in developing this tattooed line of clothing, and even our casual wear reflects that to a certain degree" In order to portray the asymmetrical "bad ass" graphics that are both embroidered and screened on their leather, textile and mesh ExoWear, Scorpion took the job to G-Lab designer and owner, Bjorn Gericke; son of designer Hein Gericke, who was the initial influence when Park, a former leather salesman, opened his first factory in 1975. With Gericke’s help, Scorpion Sports was able to launch the line with a real sting.
Sure Selling Design Specs
Scorpion Sports has coined two ExoWear safety features worth noting. The Exo-Tec CE armor affixed in the elbows and shoulders of their jackets, is both malleable and perforated. The ventilated armor system is exclusive to Scorpion in the motorized, two-wheel world. Secondly, their Exo-Stitch Safety Seam process of sewing, folding and double stitching is used on all of the exposed seams of Scorpion’s jackets. This offers seam security in the brutal fight against road rash! Aside from these bits of specificity, Scorpion will continue to use the KwikWick moisture-absorbing liners that are trademarked in their helmets in the removable, and interchangeable, thermal and waterproof liners for the gear.
Dealer Direct Distribution
"Everybody’s got a name for a brand or a style or a look; it was our job to come out and be different," he says. "We wanted to be different not only in the way we designed it and built it, but be different in the way we move it through the distribution channel. We sell it dealer-direct instead of through a distributor," says Anderson. "In that way we control our own destiny. We’re more in touch with real-time on what’s selling and what’s not. We can reorder directly from the factory quicker, without having a middleman distributor in there." Anderson adds that the elimination of a middleman is why Scorpion’s prices can be lower than their competition. The company has also established an Internet mail order policy designed for "brick and mortar" stores, stating that they will stop supplying mail-order partners who choose to sell below MSRP. "It’s hard for dealers to make money when they’re often times being used as a fitting room for a brand that sells 85% of its inventory online." By making an effort to uphold MSRP, Scorpion is trying to preserve the perception and profitability of their brand by avoiding the all too familiar "brand-bulimia" — the consequence of two-step overstocking and purging process.
In The Pipeline
Scorpion Sports will be releasing a women’s line at the Dealer Expo in February, but regarding future styles and genres, Anderson says, "Our dealers, once they experience this core collection, will tell us what they need, and we will listen. That’s what’s going to tell me what the next step is going to be and what we should address. Right now we see our competition in this sportbike category waning. We see brands that have been around for a long time that are perhaps over distributed and are available way too frequently at huge discounts." Sound interesting? ScorpionExoWear™ is ready to ship right now, click on www.scorpionusa.com to see the entire line and sign up to become a stocking dealer.