Interviews 8 Nov 2012

Industry Insight: Lusty Industries’ Johnny McLean

MotoOnline.com.au brings you an Industry Insight with Lusty Industries' Johnny McLean.

Lusty Industries distributes some of the most unique and exciting brands to be seen in the Australian action sports market today.

Offering up niche brands to a market already flooded with various brands and styles, Lusty Industries has found themselves in a unique position within various industries, not just moto alone.

MotoOnline.com.au caught up owner and founder, Johnny McLean, to find out how it all started and where he plans to take his company in the future.

Johnny McLean is the man behind Lusty Industries' out-of-the-box thinking.

Firstly, how did Lusty Industries all begin and what was the vision behind the brand?

It began when I was trying to have a good crack at doing the racing thing, travelling to the events and racing as much as I could, while juggling working in a trade.

I realised I wasn’t going to be a professional any time soon, and thought there was a bunch of brands in numerous magazines and etc, that weren’t in Australia and looked pretty cool.

So I took the onus of contacting a few of them and seeing if they would be keen for me to represent them here in Australia, there was no real plan or business guide and it just kicked-off.

You distribute core action sports brands, such as OGIO, GoPro and Ethika which are not just motocross specific brands. Was this your aim, to cater to a broad market and not just become a motocross only company?

Definitely, a lot of my friends are really good downhill mountain bikers or cyclists and snowboard in the winter. Just from personal experience in the moto industry, there is a much bigger market place than just being a moto distributor or just being a bicycle distributor.

So a lot of our brands that we have currently, and brands that we look at in the future, I think it’s healthy from a business point of view to be as diverse as we can within action sports. It seems to let us grow as quickly and as well as we have here today.

Ryan Marmont sporting another unique custom VonZipper inspired lid. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Last year you took VonZipper goggles onboard, a brand that we have seen steadily building in popularity out on the track. How has that worked out for you so far?

It’s gone very good, VonZipper was a brand that we targeted for a few years. VonZipper is part of the Billabong/GSM global empire, and we felt that over the years I’ve seen it on [Brian] Deegan and I’d seen it popping up in the US.

It’s just another niche brand that we could add to our stable, I felt that it was just a little bit left field, some people get it you know? It’s a little bit cutting edge, it’s got the surf, it’s got the lifestyle movement – it’s different.

I felt that it suited our branding and our company perfectly, so we met with those guys around 18 months to two years ago and showed them our program, what we could do.

Those guys are fully stoked, I regularly meet with them when I go to America and we align our thoughts and they’re really good. We actually designed the latest goggle line ourselves for the Australian market, which is pretty cool and unique.

Those guys are fully transparent and it’s rad to have brands like that, we do some custom stuff with guys like Ryan Marmont, we have a helmet, different VonZipper wraps. We’re just trying to do some different stuff, which is perfect for their branding.

We can leverage their global activations and it lets us do some cool as hell shit here, instead of being the same old, same old. I don’t want to use names, but you have your Oakley and your Scott, they’re there every year and they’ll be there forever.

But I think we’ve solidified ourselves quite nicely in the market place and we have our customer base. We appeal to your freestyler or your motocrosser that just wants something different, which is cool to have that.

You carry some innovative and exciting brands such as Deft, VonZipper, OGIO, even ODI grips with their fresh colourful look. These have all proven to be very popular in Australian, especially with the younger generation. Was the plan all along to bring in products which people are really excited and pumped about, but just could not get there hands on previously?

100 percent what you just said, it’s what we do here. I’ve got 20-something people here and 15-plus of them ride, including some of the girls. People don’t want to use the same helmet brand, same goggle brand, the same riding kit, the same boots, the same gloves.

People want to be different, people want to have the glove brand, they want to have the gear brand, the different helmet brand, the different goggles and the different gear bag. You know, people want to be individuals and unique.

They don’t want to just slot in and conform to look like the people in the catalogues, they want uniqueness, you know? That’s what drives us, that’s what drives us to new brands, these small cutting edge brands that we use and they work.

So that’s what defines us and that’s what will take us into the future, we just want to find what’s different, what works and what’s cool as well as functional. I just think that’s what our demographic of 15-35 wants as well.

GoPro's impact on the sport in Australia has grown immensely thanks to Lusty Industries' support. Image: FiftySix Clix/Grant Reynolds.

GoPro have released their all-new GoPro HERO3 model recently, which has caused lots of excitement in the industry. What are your expectations for that product and when will we be seeing it on our shelves?

Globally there was a launch on the 21st of October, we are currently selling the silver and white edition, and the initial response has been absolutely overwhelming again.

That brand has basically set the point of view action sports camera market, they’ve set to goal posts and they keep moving them and setting the target. The black model, which is the big bad dog that everyone is talking about, should be here within the next week or two. Without talking numbers, the intial response is crazy, it’s really positive.

Again it’s one of those brands that we didn’t see coming like that, but we’re certainly stoked that they’re on board. There are some more players now as well, we’ve got the big consumer electronic companies like Sony and JVC all in the market now, but we haven’t seen any impact at all to be honest.

I guess the difference with us is those guys I guess are perceptively suit and tie types of people. You sort of link Sony, Canon and those companies with your Harvey Normans and big consumer electronics chains.

But we built GoPro, we go to the races, we’ve had cameras on guys for years and we know the guys at the races. We like to think that the money we tip into the sport and athletes, the relationships that we have with supercross and motocross for years, and hopefully in the next few years as well.

We do it to help build the profile of the sport, to put back in to those that have built us to where we are. We’ve seen some stuff that’s been around and we’d hate to see them come in, burn bridges and create a bad vibe on action sports cameras.

But we’ll do our very best to make sure GoPro is tipping back in and supporting the people in the market place that built us. So that’s what we’re about, that’s what they’re about, as well as having the technology and product to go with it. I think we’re looking pretty healthy going forward.

Finally, what does the future hold for Lusty Industries and do you have any plans in the works for 2013 and beyond?

We’re always looking for some new products, we’ve picked up some new bicycle lines. The bicycle side of the business is growing exponentially, which is pretty exciting.

So we’ve got a new team of sales and marketing, support and customer service here now to help grow that. 1 January we will be able to launch that and we’ll have some cool stuff with bicycles.

We’re just trying to lock some stuff away with moto as well, again there is some brands there that we will hopefully land that will cover a few bases. But we just want to help, grow and bring some cool brands to the market here in Australia.

If we can live the dream, ride on the weekend, surf during the week and make a few dollars on the side, while helping our dealers along the way. Just put back into the sport and do some good stuff, that’s my dream pretty much.

I’m not here to be the guy with the most toys wins, I just want to support the industy that built me, have some cool brands, see some cool stuff at the races and I’ll be happy.

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