Do you ever wonder where some of the most recognized brands began? Who it was that scraped the $$$ together to get the ball rolling? Who gave them their first break? Well here at K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) we like to know a little about the companies that make the products that you buy. My latest education came courtesy of Helmet House and their Tourmaster line of products.
I recently had a chance to chat with the co-founders VP Phil Bellomy and Pres. Bob Miller about the birth of Tourmaster.
K and G Cycles: Can you tell me how Tourmaster was born?
Phil: Back in 1969, Bob and I were both working for Grant Industries when one rainy afternoon, I noticed a Cowboy doling out big bills for our companies 2nd’s and wanted to know his story. After learning he was selling them at Swap Meets, I wanted in. Within weeks, Bob and I were also hitting the swap meets with the Factory blem Steering Wheels and Helmets, and becoming very successful with it. Shortly thereafter we left Grant Industries, scraped together $500 each and became “Weekend Sales Company”
K and G Cycles: OK, did I miss a part? I didn’t hear anything about Tourmaster.
Phil: After about 3 years of selling products to Motorcycle shops we decided to open a store front and “Helmet House” arose from the dust. Having just secured a distributorship with Shoei Helmet Company, we were on our way and nothing was going to stand in our way. Now wait for it…. in 1978 as our relationships within the motorcycle industry grew, and we saw what was and was not available in the aftermarket, we determined it was time we filled a void and Tourmaster was born. That year, Helmet House leveraged its expertise in the motorcycle retail and distribution business, to launch the Tour Master brand of motorcycle riding gear- mainly apparel and gloves, and eventually bags, rain suits and boots too. Today Tour Master is a key player in the motorcycle aftermarket and one of the leading manufacturers and marketers of riding gear to street motorcyclists. Out of our Tour Master brand came our latest line of gear, Cortech, which offers all of the performance features and sophisticated innovations and fabric technologies of our Tour Master gear, but is styled for the performance and sport bike segment. Since 2002, it has grown steadily to be a major player in street apparel, gloves and riding gear.
K and G Cycles: So that is it? No fancy light show, no pomp and circumstance? You didn’t hit your peak and are in a recovery after a fall?
Bob: Actually, we believe for success to open its arms to you, you must be willing to advance slowly, steadily and remain strong. As the years passed we knew the aftermarket world was an ever changing place, but as long as we offered our customers the high quality products they have come to know and love, we would stand on top. In 2005, we greatly expanded our Tourmaster and Cortech product lines into the wide ranging, technically sophisticated riding gear, luggage systems, gloves and boots we offer today. Along the way we’ve developed a diverse range of testing and product development processes using both sophisticated computer fabric wear and stress analysis, to putting our luggage systems on the roof of our California headquarters to test long term color fastness in extreme sun and heat conditions. We have even become the first apparel manufacturer to test our garments in a wind room, that can allow a rider on a bike to be subjected to either wind or wind and rain up to speeds approaching 90 mph to test garments ventilation capabilities and waterproofing. This level of testing sophistication has helped us gear up many long distance tourers with gear they’ve come to rely on. In fact we get Iron Butt Rally people passing here a lot, and boy do those guys know gear.
Phil: We very proud of where we are today. Just as proud as where we came from. Not bad for two guys who started out at the swap meet.
K and G Cycles: I want to thank you both for taking the time to share your story today. It is good to know that a company as dynamic as yours began on the ground level and has a firm grasp on what it’s customers are really looking for. Everyone at K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) wants to wish you many more years of continued success. For all the innovations and stellar products you have brought to motorcycling, you deserve it.