Interviews 6 Dec 2012

Industry Insight: MX Factory’s Josh McFarlane

MotoOnline.com.au gets an Industry Insight with MX Factory's Josh McFarlane.

Showing a strong presence throughout the 2012 Monster Energy MX Nationals both in the pits and on the race track, supporting the retail market and backing their very own race team, MX Factory proved they are in the industry to support the sport.

Whilst juggling their retail store and race team, MX Factory was able to clinch an impressive first overall win as a team at Moree’s round nine of the outdoor series, with Luke Clout sweeping all three motos in the Under 19s class.

MotoOnline.com.au caught up with Josh McFarlane, MX Factory’s owner and founder, to talk about how his company began, the world of online shopping, his future race team plans and more.

Josh McFarlane is the owner and founder of MX Factory. Image: Alex Gobert.

Firstly, tell us a little bit about MX Factory, how it all began and what you offer to the Australian market?

MX Factory started three and a half years ago, I’m the only owner of the company and I’ve been in the industry since I was probably five years of age, through sponsors and stuff – I used to race dirt track and motocross.

So that’s basically how the retail started, due to the fact that I was sick of working for other people. I worked for a company called GAS Imports who are the Australian distributor for Thor motocross gear, Michelin and Akropovic.

So basically what I did was I stepped back from the business and just had staffing to run it. It was just a small little one-person show, to now carrying six staff and a bigger shop. Obviously we have a big retail presence at motocross and supercross, and obviously we do a lot of motorcycle expos.

Along with that, we’re passionate about the racing as well. So basically we’re just trying to brand one shop and build it so people can come in from a racing background, or just a general guy starting out, just to try and give them the right information.

You go into most shops now and the people behind the counter don’t actually ride or they’re just there for a pay cheque. We’re just trying to do it a little bit different and we feel we are not just here to sell product, but to give the right information out to the public. That’s what MX Factory is about, making sure we keep people in the sport and not collect their money and see you later.

Along with your retail outlet, MX Factory also runs an online store, right?

Yeah, obviously having an internet base is part of everyone’s business these days, most retailers will all have some kind of internet presence. Do I believe that it’s for the future? At the moment I think it’s definitely a trend, but I think we’ve just followed American footsteps a lot.

I believe the US market is trying to sell very heavily into the Australian market, because clearly people always want the best price and the Australian customers don’t care where they get their products from, as long as they get it for the right money.

They’ll definitely boast to their friends and people they know, that they’ve got something cheaper – I think it’s a bit of a competition. So I think that’s why the Australian market needs to do internet. Do I believe that’s where most of the market comes from? I don’t believe so.

I think people still want to touch and feel the product whilst getting the right information in store. I think you’ve got to have both, I totally agree. But it costs a lot of money obviously to run a website and do this, but we’re all about the whole package and making sure we all are there to compete against the overseas market I suppose that’s what we’d say.

Luke Clout scored an overall win for the MX Factory team in their first season running. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

You debuted the MX Factory race team for this year in the motocross series, talk about how that all came about.

How the race team started was, last year I had a lot of time with Mike Phillips who rode for Carlton Dry Honda, and basically he was without a ride for 2012 and we just started of talking at the Newcastle round of Super X.

We basically spoke about ‘what’s it going to take for you to go racing for 2012?’, and he said ‘mate, just out of a van and we only need a couple of bikes’ – basically do a little bit. So I started talking to Yarrive Konksy to try organise a couple of motorcycles for Mike Phillips.

We were finding it quite difficult to just support one rider because Honda wanted a bit more support, where they wanted us to run a two-rider team. Yarrive suggested that we maybe look at Justin McDonald as our Lites rider.

So we went from deciding on a van, to deciding well lets buy a big truck and basically doing Mike and Justin with Hondas. Mike Phillips’ deal was full support, to give him everything we possibly could, like a house here to live it, transport for him to practice – that was the plan.

Justin was a semi-supported rider through us, we supplied bikes and some bits and pieces like clothing, motocross gear, some consumable parts and whatever we could. It was on a contingency program – if he did well we would spend more money with him. So that’s what we did.

Our deal for 2012 was for the manufacturer to see that we were not just out to compete and do very well, but to make sure we always had two riders minimum running at every round of the MX Nationals, which we did do. As well as have no break downs or no failures, and always try and do the most professional job we could.

So that’s why we had a few issues after the first round, with Mike being injured we had to go with a Swedish rider called Calle Aspegren. He came in and basically helped support us while Mike was injured, just so we didn’t leave out a Honda or anyone in that area that we felt like one bike was out there.

We really wanted to make sure that we always had two riders, so basically we did do that and there was a couple rounds where we had to run three, through the support of obviously ourselves, MX Factory, and just our general product sponsors, but we got through it.

Obviously Kevin Williams was a big supporter and Loose Kid was a big supporter of us doing the retail for motocross. So basically that’s why we started doing all of the retail for motocross, we committed to it from the first round.

Everyone was sort of unsure if we were going to be consistent throughout the year, doing the race team as well as the retail – I believe that we did both at 100 percent.

Obviously our deal with Honda was only to do motocross, it wasn’t to do supercross, so we fulfilled our agreement 100 percent to all of our sponsors aswell as our commitments to Kevin Williams to everyone else that came along to try and help us out.

Calle Aspegren was a fill-in rider for the injured Michael Phillips. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

As you said, you had a motocross-only contract, but heading into 2013 will you be looking to take on the supercross series if given the opportunity?

We would absolutely love to do both events, we want to do motocross and supercross and be a part of it. But the thing is that we need more support from the manufacturer – getting just bike support and that just doesn’t really make it. You want to go racing to win, you don’t want to go just to make numbers up.

For us we’re at that stage where MX Factory as a company needs to step up to that next level, to be professional and try and win championships. The only way we’re going to do that is if we get more support from one of the motorcycle manufacturers – a lot more support where we can do more testing, get better riders and do better things with the brand.

So without their support, we pretty much can’t go racing. We have got a lot of sponsorship support for next year, but still we need the manufacturer to be behind us. Obviously we want to be up the front and not at the back, so that’s our whole thing.

At this stage we haven’t made a decision for next year, but we are talking to many manufacturers about next year and our whole goal is to go racing next year, and that’s what we plan do to. But we definitely need the support from one of the manufacturers to make this thing work.

Finally, if you do go racing in 2013, are you talking to any new riders to bring to the team for the new year?

We’ll definitely have a new rider line-up next year if we do go racing, and one will be definitely an international rider from overseas that has won championships before. The second rider will be an Australian rider, we really want to bring someone through.

We want a younger rider and maybe an older professional rider, where the older guy can give the younger guy a bit more training and a bit more experience. So we definitely want to have a young Aussie rider maybe that’s coming through in the lites at the moment.

Our international rider is someone that’s grounded themselves, has done a lot of year of racing and can still win championships and that’s our plan, that’s our goal for next year. We’re there to win championships or to win races at least, and we just need everyone to support us and hopefully we can perform back.

I think we’ve probably got a little bit more to offer than a normal team, where we’ve got the rights to sell at all the motocross rounds plus other branding events. So I think having that is a good thing for a manufacturer to get on board with us, because we can actually, for once, give back to sponsors instead of just taking.

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