Interviews 27 Jun 2017

Industry Insight: Octane’s Frank Pudarich

Learning more about the cost-effective personalised branding company.

The word ‘custom’ has long been associated with factory level or well-funded riders in the sport of motocross for quite some time, but that’s all starting to change now with companies such as Octane making waves in the industry domestically. Offering custom branded equipment that ranges from pit shirts to toolboxes, Octane can create you your very own range of custom branded workshop and racing products at a cost-effective and affordable price. In this latest edition of Industry Insight we caught up with Octane’s Frank Pudarich to learn more about the innovative company and exactly how you can order your very own custom branded kit completely online at www.octane.store.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Tell us a little bit about Octane and the services it provides to the Australian motorcycle industry?

Octane came about purely from my previous roles and background in the accessories industry, and also from my experience working with race teams. We come at it a little bit different because I was aware of the product technology that we’re using called sublimation and we were looking to adapt that technology to the motorcycle and parts industry. We were developing products using that technology that suits the specific needs for both racers and weekend guys, and the idea was to make it as customisable as possible. It’s basically a version of a sticker kit, every sticker kit you can get custom made and we wanted to make our products so they could be custom made specifically for you.

What do you feel sets Octane apart and have you seen any of your custom items rise in popularity throughout the business’s relatively short life span to date?

The biggest difference for us is that we manufacture and design our own products, so we’re not a distributor for somebody, all of these products are our own design and our own intellectual property. Having said that, we’re constantly working on new product ideas and that’s one of the benefits of being a small independent company – we are pretty nimble and we can come up with new ideas. The fact that everybody involved with the company rides as well, that gives us good feedback and we’re always getting feedback from the race teams that we support, juniors and all of our customers – we take all of that feedback into account. In regards to products, our number one specific is that is has to match our other products in design. So what that means is that if you have a bike stand with your logo, name and number on it, that new product, whatever it may be, has to be designed to visually look the same. The idea is that over time you can build up a kit and it all matches, whether it’s a pit tent, shirt, jacket, bike stand, toolbox or even a chair. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure all of those components can match. Our team wear has definitely been something that is by far the most popular and also our tents, I think the tents in particular because they are very high quality, but we can have them custom printed and designed for the same price as a standard one colour tent. The jackets for winter have been very popular too and we’re always looking to expand and evolve on those products as well.

We’re seeing the Octane products spreading through the pits during the 2017 season, can you tell us the teams or brands you’ve been working with to date?

Last year, for example, we worked with the DPH Motorsport Yamaha team and this year we’re working with the MEGA Bulk Fuels Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team, the MAD Peters Stevens Racing Team, the Penrite CRF Honda Racing team and a heap of privateers and small privateer teams. We also work with a heap of juniors too and through our junior support program we’ve been able to work with a lot of coaches as well. For us a big thing has been working with as many coaches as possible, that’s something we want to move in towards next year with even putting on our own camps with coaches. So we’re working with Beaton’s Pro Formula, 3ZERO MX Coaching, LMX Coaching and we’re constantly talking to new coaches about working with us and it’s something we really want to be active in supporting.

Octane is quite a unique company and something that we haven’t seen offered domestically, so how has it been received so far?

The reception has been great, I think the challenge for us has been that we’re offering something completely different. It’s not like it’s another oil brand or another clothing brand were people instantly recognise the product, for us the challenge has been explaining to people that all of the products we make, they can custom design themselves. That for us has been the challenge and we don’t have any competitors that offer this range of products and this amount of customisation, but the challenge has been educating the consumer. So that’s why we’ve gone to as many events as we can supporting the East Coast MX series, select MX Nationals rounds, the NSW junior titles and the junior nationals.

Apart from creating a range of custom products, you’re also running a neat support program for Australian junior racers this season, how can riders get involved in that?

That is basically free to sign up and all you have to do is use an Octane sticker on your bike, the terms and conditions are on our website. But it’s very simple and you earn points based on your results and you can redeem those points for free Octane product. We’ve had a great response from juniors so far and that’s something that we’ll look to expand next year, right now it’s a $20,000 prize pool and we’ll look to expand that next year with more events as well.

In the past custom branded products meant bulk orders and substantial prices, so do you see this type of cost-effective service becoming the future of custom branded equipment in the sport?

I think it’s definitely the future and you’re correct because in my previous roles I had the same experience, if you wanted to order something, you had to order bulk quantities. But it’s like technology, the technology gets better and it gets cheaper, so the prices to do these things consistently comes down. We’ve just taken technology that already existed in other industries and we’ve adapted it, so we’re not reinventing a motorcycle product, but if you look at other markets this is already happening in other sports. The problem is that previously you had to order 30 or 40 items, but now we’ve just got customers ordering one shirt or one bike stand, but previously you were never able to do that. I think as we move forward I would be surprised if other people don’t pick up on it and offer this service as well.

Running such a technically advanced company with no two items exactly the same, it must be a tough task to keep things running smoothly. How have you approached that side of the business and what kind of turnaround time can customers expect?

We only launched the products to the public this year and we’ve been in business since early April, so we’ve been learning and evolving working with customers and working out exactly what they’re after. The website for example, we’ve got our fifth version of the website launching soon and it’s purely just on changing the order process based on what customers have been saying. It’s very similar to a bike graphics purchase where you add in the details, so at this point we have two options. We have eight templates available in all of the manufacturer’s colours and you simply add in your sponsors, name and number on the website. We’ve even got high-resolution images of all of the designs in each colour so you can see exactly what they will look like. Once you’ve completed that process, we email you the design proof in PDF format to approve and once you’ve approved that, we then go into manufacturing. We manufacture everything for that product order and you have a standard three-week turnaround for manufacturing. The other alternative is a fully custom design, which I always tell people to allow a little bit more time. This is where we create a design specifically for you, this isn’t one of our templates and there is an additional charge on the website and then you work with one of our designers one-on-one. We create something custom specifically for you and then we go through the approval process and once it’s finalised we move into manufacturing. I always tell people to allow an extra week or two for that process, just because of the amount of back-and-forth revisions that usually take place on a custom design.

Finally, what does the future for Octane look like and how exactly can customers get in touch with you to have their very own custom branded equipment produced?

We’ve got some new clothing items coming out later this year that we’re just finalising now and we’ve got our new toolboxes coming out shortly. As I said, we’re always working on new products and we’re actually also working on some mountain bike products right now too. In regards to contacting us, feel free to give us a call or an email, there’s no silly questions, so if you are confused or having any ideas that you’d like to talk about before you go and order – please contact us or come and see us at an event. Alternatively, our website is www.octane.store, and you can get on there and see all of the products in our range.

Related