One random Sunday at work I happened to meet Greg Fox of FOX Racing. Being somewhat awestruck, I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I could ask some questions about FOX and its history, what he remembers from growing up with a family business that is still a family business and has more than survived the changing ways people do business. FOX has created an identity in motorsports, biking and its gear defines a culture. It isn’t every day you get to meet one of the guys who helped contribute to the gear some of us know and love. SMR: As a family member of FOX, what is it like to be a part of the company, to be a part of the history? Were you aware of the impact it would have on performances sports, motorcycling and biking? Did you think it would get this big and reach as many people as it has? I was lucky to have grown up in a small family business.
Greg Fox: All my school friends had dads that went off to work each day at IBM or HP or AAA. They never got to live the family business thing like me and my siblings did. Each summer we spent our weekdays at “the shop”, earning minimum wage ($2.65) assembling shocks, folding tee shirts, making sticker kits, counting inventory, answering phones, picking orders, etc… I think for my mom it was easy babysitting and for my dad it was a way to teach us hard work and business smarts. I still remember when minimum wage increased to $3.10… I was 14-1/2 years old and I was earning so much money I thought! We were kids though, so sometimes we goofed off. But…when my dad found out, he laid into us. “Your last name is Fox, you have to lead by example no matter how young you are.”
SMR: What is something the public may not know that you would like to share about FOX Racing? Some kind of hidden gem or meaning?
Greg Fox: Funny story about the 1990 San Jose Supercross. Since it was the first time a Supercross had come to our home town, we decided to hold an after-party. I honestly think this was the first-ever after party in our industry. Anyways…we cruised the pits putting the word out about the Fox after party at McGlincy Lane, unit #13. This was a tiny little warehouse with 1 toilet that we had rented for overstock MX boots. Since the boot shipment was late, the warehouse was empty…the perfect venue for a keg party!
After the race, we hurried over to unit 13 to get ready. No idea how many to expect. A few cars showed up with our friends and we wondered if the party would be happening or not. Then, out of the blue…Honda Box Vans started showing up, mechanics and riders…. 16 yr old McGrath comes walking in… Then all sorts of pros arrive….pretty much the party got totally out of hand. It was awesome.
SMR: Today, people focus on company culture. How would you say the culture has changed over the years?
Greg Fox: Definitely the culture has gotten much more corporate over the years. The few old timers around here still reminisce about the old days. The average age of a Fox employee in the late 80s/early 90s was probably 21. And nobody (except my dad) had a university degree. We were a rag tag bunch of kids that loved motorcycles, working hard… and partying. Things could get a bit out of hand at trade shows, after race parties, and company Christmas parties.
SMR: What do you feel is FOX’s greatest contribution to the world of motorsports? Is it style, is it the gear, or is it the lifestyle?
Greg Fox: The Gear no doubt. We took Motocross gear designed and manufactured by Europeans, and rewrote the industry.
SMR: What about failures? Has there ever been a comical failure as in “wow, that purple inflatable floatie device just isn’t what we hoped it would be?” What lessons were learned from that experience and how did it influence future decisions?
Greg Fox: Every company makes mistakes.
Apple bombed with the Lisa and Newton Computers! Coke had “New Coke”. We had the Chameleon Boot. The mix and match colored logos fell off on your first jump!
SMR: Do you race or ride yourself? If so, what is your favorite and why? Any accomplishments you would like to share? If not, what do you do for fun to balance out work/life?
Greg Fox: I raced competitively back in the 1980s. The highlight of my “career” was getting 7th place at the Ponca City Amateur Nationals in the 250cc “C” class. I also won the 250cc C class at the Seattle Supercross in 1987 at the old Kingdome. I ride mountain bikes mostly now. Too many injuries! Had shoulder surgery 18 months ago.
As for other sports, I snowboard and play ice hockey. Pretty good Kart racer as well… I always like to brag to my kids that I beat Ricky Carmichael kart racing for fun at one of our sales meetings years ago.
SMR: What are the future plans for FOX Racing? And its product development? Where would you like to see FOX in the next decade?
Greg Fox: We have some awesome new helmets coming out this Fall, with really innovative safety technology.
SMR: What does FOX Racing think of supermoto? Any plans to develop supermoto specific gear? We currently ride using a mix of dirt gear and road racing gear but I know there is a desire to have gear that mixes both.
Greg Fox: We actually used to make Fox road racing gear back in the 1980s. It was half of our total revenue, but we phased out of Road Racing and Jet Skiing gear at the end of the 80s, as we focused all our efforts on making the best gear for riding dirt bikes.
We are looking at some products for supermoto, but nothing past the preliminary design stage yet.
SMR: I always ask this question from everyone: What is your favorite dessert and why?
Greg Fox: My favorite Desert is Imperial Sand Dunes! (Glamis).
….oh, you mean Dessert… um…. Rocky Road Ice Cream.
FOX Racing has made an impact on motorcycling taking a small company and turning it into something massive and far reaching. All you have to do is go to any event and you are guaranteed to find women in FOX clothing, men in FOX hats. I look forward to the new gear coming out and can say it was awesome to get a chance to talk to Greg about being a part of FOX. Knowing it is a family business, that it grew out of hard work gives me so much more respect for how far they have come and the impact they have on our sport. It is great to know there are still people out there that do it for the love of the sport and want to make a difference.