One of the many industry jobs that goes somewhat unnoticed is the 'gear guy'. Also known as the Moto Athlete Manager. They are responsible for making sure all of their riders have the proper gear line, colorway, size, sponsor logos, etc for each round. Brad Behrens is the Moto Athlete Manager for FXR Moto, so I got him on the phone to find out how he got that position, what some of his roles are, and more.
For the full interview, check out the Vital MX podcast right here. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.
Jamie Guida - Vital MX: How are you doing, man? How are things today?
Brad Behrens: Good. You would think I'd be slowing down because Supercross just ended, but it is not that way. It is still full throttle, getting ready for the outdoors, answering emails, dotting i's, crossing t's, and just making sure everyone's dialed.
Vital MX: You're not in the Bahamas on vacation for a week, huh?
Brad: No, not quite. I came home and got right back to the grind. I flew home Sunday for Mother's Day, got a couple of hours to myself, and then went right back to the grind.
Vital MX: It was a pretty good season for FXR. Enzo Lopes had one of his best years ever. Obviously, there were some injuries with the Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX team. Jeremy Martin came back fairly strong, getting ready for the outdoors, and then a lot of your privateers, such as Logan Karnow and a few others, had some good seasons.
Brad: Yeah, it was honestly one to go down in the record books for us. I mean, we had Jeremy Martin take a Triple Crown win, and that'd be our first win. I guess you can count it. I count it. We had some heat race wins and fastest qualifiers. Josh Cartwright did well this year. Grant Harlan was a standout. It seems like there was always something that we could pinpoint as a win on the weekend, and that was pretty cool.
Vital MX: Phil Nicoletti threw one away, though. Haha.
Brad: Yeah, it's hard. I love Phil. Phil is a good friend of mine, but yeah, Phil is gonna Phil, man.
Vital MX: I love Filthy. He's one of the best. I always start these things by getting the guest's background a bit. Where did you grow up? What was your involvement in moto early? How did you discover it?
Brad: As you said, I did grow up around it. You could say I was a wannabe pro. It didn't quite happen. I was a decent rider around my area, and my dad was good. My brother raced, and even my sister rode. So, we're definitely a motocross family. I just loved it. I've always been passionate about the sport, and I kind of set my goals. I knew I was going to work in the industry. I know it sounded stupid, but I always had it in my heart to follow my dreams. If I couldn't make it as a racer, I was going to make damn sure that I was going to make it in the industry.
Vital MX: That's interesting. You're not the first person that has said that. I love the sport, but I don't remember thinking, I'm going to get a job in the industry. It just seemed unrealistic. So, as a younger person, what were you thinking of as a role in the industry that you were going to do? Did you think, "I'll be a gear guy?"
Brad: Yeah, honestly, I did want to be a gear guy. I've always wanted to do that. I want to go to the races. I can talk to the athletes well. I see where they're coming from because I've lived it a little bit. As I said, I was a wannabe, and it never happened. This is a way for me to go to the races and promote a brand that I really care about and love. It just worked out because I never took no for an answer. Being up here in Wisconsin, there aren't many motos companies, and I just made it happen. I got my start at EVS and was there for five years. I was the athlete guy there. Then I moved on with Andy White at FXR, and that's where you see me now.
Vital MX: Before we get into EVS and FXR, who were your heroes when you were watching racing? Who are the guys that you looked up to?
Brad: Ricky (Carmichael) and James (Stewart). It's funny; I was always a Ryno fan. I liked Ryno when I was younger. Now it's crazy saying that a little bit, but I was a big fan of him. I like the underdogs. I always looked at myself that way, so I liked Matt Walker and anyone who was right behind the main guys. He is a little out there, but some of the stuff he posts resonates a bit the more I learn about life. I look at things differently now than when I was younger.
Vital MX: How did you get your start at EVS?
Brad: Well, they are local to me. They are right down the road. I knew that was really the only entrance into the industry for me. I worked at a Harley dealership for a while to get some dealership experience, and then I got annoying and kept pressing and pressing until I got a shot. I was able to get in there as the Rider Support Rep and do that for five years. Then I was racing, and Andy White helped me out with gear and saw what I was doing there, and he put the feelers out. Something about it just made me feel special, and that's something we do well there. You just feel special. It feels like you're a part of something bigger, a part of a family. I guess that's why I jumped and followed Andy White. He's always mentored me, and now I'm his right-hand man. Even the owner Milt (Reimer), he's over 50 years old and still racing Loretta's. He's super passionate about the brand, and you just don't see that. I mean, an owner of the company still racing Loretta's, working at the ground level, attending races, and being a part of the teams. It stems from him and radiates into everyone that's involved with the brand. I think it shows how we're all really passionate about what we're doing.
Vital MX: Going back to when you started at EVS as the Athlete Manager, I'm assuming you're dealing with Travis Pastrana and a lot of elite athletes, and you're probably saying, "Holy crap, that's Travis Pastrana." It's almost overwhelming when you first get into the industry and start meeting these 'heroes' or whatever you want to call them.
Brad: It definitely was like that for a while. There were a lot of times, even still, I have to pinch myself that I made it. I followed my dreams, and I guess that wears off a little bit as you go on. I remember being at Pastrana's house and testing products and seeing these people that I idolized my whole life, and yeah, it's definitely a surreal feeling, but at the same time, I always knew that I'd be there. I always just looked out five or ten years and pictured myself there doing that. Sometimes you just have to make it happen.
Vital MX: What are some of your day-to-day roles?
Brad: Well, I am the gear guy at the races and the goggle guy for Factory Ride. So, I prep goggles, do all that, and get them ready. I run our social media for the brand, so I run FXR Moto and Factory Ride. I also help out with marketing. I answer emails, and I help deal with rider support. I talk with some media like Racer X, Vital MX, and am a jack of all trades. I help out wherever, and there's no lack of work, man. It's wide open.
Vital MX: That's very common in our industry. A lot of guys in the industry are a jack of all trades. You may have a title, but you're going to wear a lot of hats.
Brad: Definitely. You show what you can do with normal stuff and pile it on. I like it. It's busy, and I like to see myself actually get it done. Sometimes it's hard to relinquish some of that. So yeah, I don't mind it.
Vital MX: What's the most difficult part of your job?
Brad: I would say the grind of it all. It sounds weird because you dream your whole life to be able to travel to all these races but never get a day off, and the constant phone going off every three seconds is a little hard to juggle. It's also a good juggle, man. I'd rather be busy than sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
Vital MX: What's a bigger pain in the butt, rider's complaints or media requests?
Brad: Oo oo oo. I'm not going to name names, you're not going to get me to go there, but there are definitely some riders that are a little more needy than some of the others. Honestly, the media stuff is easy. As long as it's there on time, you guys are all pretty good, man. We send it out, and you guys know what you're doing. So, I would say rider requests are harder.
Vital MX: What are some of the requests or complaints that you get, and are they difficult to handle? For example, fitment issues.
Brad: I would say logo, sizes, and the back-and-forth emails. That stuff gets hard. You'll print a whole bunch of jerseys, and then they'll reach out and say, "Oh, well, I got a new sponsor. I need to get that on there." Well, that's a lot of money and a lot of back and forth and a lot it's a lot bigger mistake than what you'd think. The money adds up quickly.
Vital MX: Yeah. You can't just take 50 jerseys down to the basement real quick and throw this logo on. There's a process to it, right?
Brad: There's just a lot that goes into it that people don't even see. They think you just show up and say, "Oh, here's your gear," and "Oh, that's easy, and I'm the only rider here." It's not like that. There are lots of riders; there's lots of back and forth, and lots of stuff behind the scenes that it takes to get it done.
Vital MX: How much custom stuff does that FXR do for riders? Do you tailor sleeve tightness, sleeve lengths, or any of that stuff for particular riders?
Brad: Not as much as you would think. There are a lot of riders that are running production stuff. We do have some custom stuff that we'll have to do. For instance, the ClubMX team has to run different patches, some ORW (Off-Road Warehouse) stuff, and Yamaha stuff. I'd say that's tailored to the very, very top guys. Jeremy Martin likes really tight pants, and he's a shorter guy, so it's hard to get some of the stuff that goes out to the public to fit him. We want him to look a specific way, so we'll tailor it to him. There are a lot of people that are just running our normal pants and normal jerseys, and it does the job.
Vital MX: FXR was built, from my viewpoint on Privateers. They focused on privateers and still do quite heavily. What about the privateers are special to you? Why do you like working with the privateers?
Brad: I like it because I find they're easier to talk to. I can picture myself at a regional sleeping in my truck. You see yourself in their position, and you care for them. There are not as many people around. They get to interact with you more, and you can be a special part of their daily life, and I don't know, I just enjoy that.
Vital MX: I feel they're pretty good at the social end of things, too, right? They're very thankful for what they get. Some of the factory riders, you know, they kind of expect it.
Brad: Yeah. Yeah. I remember getting my first free set of gear and everything like that. It's cool to see that on their face, man. Even when Andy started sponsoring me to go to Loretta's and everything, I just remember that day the gear showed up and how special that was. I always tell myself; I have to remind myself that it is a cool thing. It's a cool job. It's cool to hand out gear. It's cool to make people smile, and it's dirt bikes. I mean, how bad could it be?
Vital MX: What's the best thing about working at FXR?
Brad: I would say, being able to go to the races and take care of that, but really, the people. I know I've said it before, but they really are passionate. They care about what they're doing and everything people say, and if there's something wrong with the gear, we're changing it. Everyone from the designers to Carson (Soviak), Dan (Guetter), Milt, Andy, they're. We just love moto, man; it's cool. You go in, you talk about it, you live it, and you breathe it. That's just a good environment to be around. I feel the product gets better every year. I feel the designs get better every year. It's something that we build on and, like building blocks stack them up, and then you see the results, and you're starting to see it. FXR has gained a lot of legitimacy, a lot of it. I really do think that it's one of the top brands, and it's cool to be a part of it.
Vital MX: One of my favorite things about FXR is how many different options and colorways there are. You have so many products in general. There are so many cool things, bold colors, and some stuff for people that maybe like a cleaner look.
Brad: Sometimes, the hard part is narrowing that down and making sure it all fits. I guess that's why you see so many releases and stuff because we have so much cool stuff. We just want you guys all to see it. So yeah, we'll change things up or launch it here or do it there. Not being attached to a parent company, we can have more fun and do things a little differently. I mean, it's been done the same way for a long time, and we're not afraid to change it up with different styles, fits, and everything. We have fishing stuff, snow stuff, and mountain bike stuff. We're not afraid to take chances. If we see an avenue, we'll throw everything we have at it.
Vital MX: What's your favorite product? Do you have one that stands out?
Brad: Personally, I like our jersey materials. They're amazing. The first time I put on one of our Revo jerseys, it breathed so well, and it's something that is pretty awesome. They're not afraid to take chances with different materials and tightness, lengths, and fit finishes. I would definitely say the attention to detail with all those things.
Vital MX: My favorite product is the Pro-Fit Air glove. It's super thin, and I like it.
Brad: Those are very popular. All of our pros really like that glove. I like the glove and the jersey. I remember racing Loretta's in 2017/18, and I wore that Air gear, and it definitely saved me down there.
Vital MX: What's next with FXR? What can you tell us?
Brad: Oh, well, there is stuff in the pipeline. There's other stuff coming out shortly. I would say around August and September time. Keep your eyes out on that stuff. The '24 things we're shooting right now, so keep your eye out for that. Our goggles have been growing like crazy, as well as the helmets. I just can't talk about some of the stuff. Keep your eyes open come mid-outdoors season.