How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
Lets be honest you aren’t going to be a professional racer and chances of you being a mechanic aren’t that good either. Butt there are several other jobs in moto that you could possible slip into and make a career out of. I’m going to get in touch with some of these industry insiders for short features. What are the ins and outs of these moto industry jobs and how did they get there?
How wood you like to travel to all the races, hang out with pro riders all day and all you have to do is hand out some goggles? Sounds like a pretty sweet job to me. I got in touch with two of the biggest names in goggles John Knowles from Scott and Ryan Miller aka Hedgie from Oakley to find out what providing clear vision is all about.
How long have you been working with Scott/Oakley and what jobs did you have prior to that?
Hedgie: I’ve been working for Oakley since 2008, prior to Oakley I was a plumber for 7 years.
Knowles: Since May 2004. Before that I was an AMA promoter in District 6 and a college student.
Everyone says it’s not what you know it’s who you know to get a job in moto so who did you know that helped get you the job?
Hedgie: I met Gene Neumac in Texarkana which is where we live (this is a really city in Texas I googled it). After meeting Gene and becoming friends we went to a lot SX races together where I was introduce to current my boss Anthony Paggio. Then one thing lead to another and now I’ve been with Oakley for a while now.
Knowles: I had a great relationship with the guys at Scott when I was promoting. They set me up with giveaways, had “Scott Days” etc. I was at the right place at the right time when they needed someone for this position. I had just graduated college, had a decent moto resume and it definitely helped to have a working relationship in place with those guys.
Obviously the job involves building goggles and handing them out at the races but what are the other parts of the job Monday thru Friday that people don’t see?
Hedgie: Other than preparing and prepping our athletes goggles I have another responsibility which is taking care of our support rig that I take race to race. I have to keep it stocked with product, wash it, service the generator, service the truck and get it race to race. The truck is a big part of what I do for Oakley.
Knowles: I am the contact for all pro race support so that means MX/SX, offroad, atv. I’m also the contact person for the media. I negotiate contracts, and day to day marketing.
Is the goggle guy considered to be above or below the gear guy in the moto industry hierarchy?
Hedgie: I don’t consider either one of us to be over the other. We all provide a service for our athletes regardless what the job title is. We’re just doing our jobs. I will say though if you can’t see you can’t ride at all…hahaha.
Knowles: The gear guys definitely have more down time at the races but they stay busy too. I would take the gear guy position at any mud race, any time. Spare pair of gloves??? Not a problem.
How involved are you in the other aspects of the goggle besides rider support, like sales, R&D, marketing, distribution, etc.?
Hedgie: Oakley is such a huge company they have someone for everything. For example if one our athletes has a problem or suggestion we take a note of it in turn into R&D. Then they look into whatever the problem is or suggestion that the athlete might have and try to resolve the issue. It’s the same for sales and distributing. I just pretty much just take care of our athletes at the races.
Knowles: Not to sound too corporate, but we use racing for R&D as much as for marketing. We are always improving. We employ our own engineers and manufacturing, that gives us a lot of freedom to improve quickly. I work with our art department and the other moto guys daily with marketing. Also with distribution and sales when they coincide with racing.
The industry has labeled your job title as “goggle guy” but what is the title of your job in the corporate world, what does your business card say?
Hedgie: My job title is “sport marketing/rider support”.
Knowles: Haven’t had a business card in a while, but I think it used to be “Pro Race Team Manager”.
What is the dress code for your job? Describe the goggle guy “kit” on a typical race day.
Hedgie: My dress code for the weekend is usually blue jean and a dress shirt. With the Oakley logo on it of course.
Knowles: I’m a follower so I wait until Anaheim to see what the cool kids are doing this year.
Do you see the younger generation having aspirations to be goggle guys, how many kids do you expect to dress up as a goggle guys for Halloween this year?
Hedgie: There always will be that kid that would love to be the goggle guy. Heck I was that kid 9yrs ago, lucky for me Anthony Paggio gave me a chance at it and I’ve been thankful since then. I really don’t see anyone dressing up as goggle guy for Halloween LOL.
Knowles: I think it’s a strange gig. I know people think we are just hanging out and there is definitely time for that, but believe me, it’s not quite as stressful as mechanics, but it’s up there.
If you had to hire your replacement describe the type of person you would be looking for.
Hedgie: My replacement? That’s a tuff one.
Knowles: I think ideally that person should come from a racing background. Have some credentials to bring in as a new guy. That can be tough. But qualities are easy, you have to be organized, prepared and you have to have thick skin. Outside of goggles, I am none of those. I learned early on that those things are important.
A not so well kept secret of moto goggle prep is the use of maxi pads to help prevent sweat from dripping on the goggle lens. What is your most embarrassing pad purchasing experience?
Hedgie: Man I don’t have an issue at all buying the sweat pads. I remember when Paggio kept telling me I was getting the wrong ones, so finally just asked women at the store for some help. She was really helpful…hahaha.
Knowles: Every week I make the same purchase. Maxi pads, Vaseline, and Ziplocks. Sometimes you have to grab some baby oil, that takes it over the top for the checkout person.
What is the most number of goggles you’ve built in one sitting?
Hedgie: When we had 12 athletes I would have to build 60 sets of goggle a weekend. That takes about 2:30 hours. I will say our new air brake goggle has been a blessing and preparing goggles is faster.
Knowles: Loretta Lynn’s feels like 1,000 but realistically I’d say 400.
Which of your riders is the easiest on goggles and who is the hardest?
Hedgie: None of our athletes are any easier or harder than the other. Just some of them want more options, for example a Grey lens, 21 tear offs, sweat pads, etc.
Knowles: All my roster right now is pretty easy going. As far as usage, 377 easiest, and 41 hardest.
Rate the stress level of your job on a scale of 1-10. Does the thought of one of your riders throwing their goggles off mid race keep you up at night?
Hedgie: The stress level of my job is at its worst when it rains. The two worst races I can remember was Budds Creek and Iron Man, they were out of control. On a dry day it’s not nearly as stressful as long as you prepared your product right for the athletes. Usually there’s not much to stress about. Rainy day 8, a dry day 3.
Knowles: A sunny SX is a 3, rainy SX a 7. A sunny outdoors is a 6, rainy outdoors a 9.5. Yes I have had hundreds of goggle dreams and nightmares. Usually it’s a dream that you are not prepared.
What is the trick to ensuring you pull only one tear-off and not the entire stack?
Hedgie: Start riding at a young age LOL I am 34 and I’m still pulling all the tear offs sometimes when I’m riding. If you’re real bad a pulling them all off at one time I would recommend roll offs…hahaha.
Knowles: That’s on the rider. Should ask Ferry about this.
What is the best use of goggles you’ve found that was not for their intended purpose?
Hedgie: All kind of purpose for those Oakley goggles. Yard work, wood work, grilling on the grill and my favorite is cutting onions.
Knowles: Corporate answer – for marketing, wearing goggles on the podium for champagne shower.
Best part and worst part of being a goggle guy?
Hedgie: Best part about being a goggle guys is I’m around what I like to do even when I’m not at work and the worst unfortunately is when I let an athlete down.
Knowles: Best for me is the competitive nature of being a part of the race, and having some importance knowing that we make a difference in the outcome. Worst is the nature of the job and trying to help everyone. It’s hard to help all guys at the same support level, and it’s hard to say no.
Which sport sells the most goggles?
Hedgie: I’m pretty sure snow is the most selling sport for goggles. I could be wrong, but I would bet on it .
Knowles: Not sure I understand the question. Off road guys are hard on their equipment just by the nature of their gig. But moto guys love to be fresh and have the newest stuff. We don’t discriminate.
Who taught you the most about goggles and the ins and outs of your job?
Hedgie: Gene Naumec would take credit for that, but all credit goes to Anthony Paggio .
Knowles: Some people have to learn this trade, I was born with the gift.
If you could work in any other sport what would it be?
Hedgie: I don’t think I would want to work in another industry. I like what I’m doing now too much.
Knowles: Golf Industry
Thanks to both Knowles and Hedgie for their time and giving us a peak behind the curtain and a look into what their jobs entail on a week-to-week basis. If you have a request for interviews on a specific career field in the moto industry email it to firstname.lastname@example.org Moser or PulpMX and he will make sure to forward it along.
Thanks for reading Moser.