It has been a while since I have done one of these, I should probably get back to it since it’s a new year and everything.
I sent over some questions for Leigh and his crew over at Eastern to get a little history and a look into the future of the company for you guys. Theres some talk of videos, and other interesting things going on so go check it out, and leave some lovin’ for them in the comments!
Eastern has been in the BMX industry for years. Who was the original founder(s) of Eastern and when did it get its start?
(Leigh) Jon Byers and Mike Corley started Eastern in 1996. Jon use to ride for Bully bikes back when RL Osborne owned it. Mike welded his first frame at his house. They both just wanted to start a company and the name came from Mike’s late fathers initials who took him to buy his first BMX bike. From that they just started slowly first making frames then a few other parts and eventually complete bikes.
Where are you guys located and has that changed at all over the years? Who are the other people who keep things running smooth from product design to the guys packing shipments?
(Leigh) Our sales office is in Raleigh, NC and the warehouse is outside of Charlotte, NC. We had them both together for a few years but it was keeping Mike away from his family so we split them back up but things are smooth as butter still. So Mike runs the Warehouse and Jon is in the sales office. We have guys like Seamus McKeon that helps in the Warehouse and does warranties. And here at the office we have guys that all ride (Bryan Byrd, Joe Haley and Andrew York) that do sales and I handle team, media and being an idiot duties.
Jon Byers – Table
What is a typical day like for you?
(Leigh) I don’t think there is any typical day in the bike industry. I start the day off answering email and checking out my to-do list and hitting that. It can be anything from making an ad, talking to riders, helping design a shirt, talking to the guys here, taking a poop, shooting product photos, to you-name-it. I guess that’s what’s great about it and frustrating at the same time…you just never know what you’re going to be doing when you walk in the door that day.
(Byrd) Wake up about 6:30, curse at my alarm clock. Then depending on whether or not my foot’s been hurt in a living room wrestling match I like to ride my road bike on the trainer. Eat some Kashi Go Lean and check my email on the Crackberry®. Shake a tower and hop on my steed to pedal to work (weather dependent). Get in, check all the news sites, talk some shit to Leigh, then wait for our sales assitant to come in late. I stay in pretty close contact with our top dealers throughout the day and spend a lot of time with sales numbers and product stuff. Our phones ring pretty steadily throughout the day and we have a ton of outgoing calls to make as there’s always more business out there somewhere. Once I’ve had my fill of all this(somewhere around 7pm), I usually head home or out to eat a decent meal. Then I talk to the lady and crash out, unless Count Treycula comes knockin’ w/ a wrasslin’ challenge…then it’s on bitch!
Jon Byers – Cherokee Air
Obviously people are always looking for a sweet job, are you guys hiring for any positions right now? How does somebody go about getting a job with Eastern?
(Byrd) Not at the moment, but you never know what’s around the corner. Opportunities are everywhere and we’re never shy about jumping on top of them and wrasslin’ them to the ground. Then we like to have our way with them…
Eastern has been pushing a lot of buttons with a lot of the new products coming out. Either the kids like it or they talk bad about it. What is the 09′ product line looking like? Any new additions you can tell us about?
(Byrd) 2009 stuff looks great, we have plenty of new products coming out and actually have been in development mode for the last little bit. As for the whole love/hate thing, it is what it is. We had one very public warranty issue that we more than completely resolved, and in many cases gave riders 2 frames for one broken one. It’s over and done with. Many companies have problems, just not on such a revolutionary product; that’s what made the Grim Reaper V1 issues so huge, the fact that they were on a frame like no one had ever seen. If the first flying car comes out and catches fire, it’s gonna leave a bad taste in a lot of mouths. Some will overcome this stigma, yet some will let it keep them from getting the fastest, most efficient mode of transportation available…marinate on that for a minute.
Mike Corley – One Hander One Footer
How about soft goods and small products you guys make? Anything-new there?
(Leigh) The guys on the team do most of our designs. They are called the “Rider Concept Series”. The guys on the team come up with a design and we put it out and they money from each sale. It’s a good way for Eastern to get great shirts and to also help the riders out more.
Eastern has built up a really good team these last few years, who all is on the team from pro and flow, to other guys you hook up? Will there be any additions or changes to the team you can tell us about anytime soon?
(Leigh) Yeah the team is pretty great right now. I love how diverse the team is. One the pro team we have Mike Andrews, Adam Banton, Kelly Bolton, Daniel Donges, Eric Holley, Zach Rogers Craig Mast, and Brian Wizmerski.
The Flow team consists of Nick Anderson, Darren Bouldin, Cody Jennings, Seamus McKeon and Josh Perry. We also have a small group of local rippers, Trey Doig and Zack Roberts who are on the Test team. They test the new stuff along with the rest of the team and give us feedback. We are going to pick up a real big name guy in 2015 be on the look out.
Leigh Ramsdell – Toboggan
How do you go about picking new people for the team anyways? Do you ever consider sponsor videos or is that a thing of the past?
(Leigh) It seems like picking people for the team just happens. I have no real formula getting guys. It’s real important to hang out with the guys before we put them on the team just to make sure they are cool. Sponsor videos rarely work just because of what I just mentioned but it can’t hurt to start getting your name out there in case you run into the person.
Is there any big team trips, DVDs, contests, or other projects like that going on other than the “Inside Out” videos you got going on?
(Leigh) We are actually working on our first Team Video that will be released around Interbike. Mike McQueen is editing the whole thing in Manglevision™ so you know it’s going to kick ass.
Speaking of “Inside Out”, when will the next one be out? Who will be in it and where will it be filmed?
(Leigh) We just filmed the final one for the year in Philly back in November. We are going to put them on hold right now to focus on the Team Video.
Jon Byers – Candybar Lookback
Where does Eastern as a company see itself in the next few years?
(Leigh) We see ourselves in the future with flying cars and talking avocados,
(Byrd) perhaps making love to mannequins.
What about just other questions people might have for Eastern, whom should they contact?
(Leigh) Just hit up [email protected] if it’s a general question and I will answer you. But if it’s a warranty question then email [email protected] and Seamus will handle those.
What do you feel separates Eastern from all the other companies out there?
(Byrd) A heightened drive for innovation and success; we want to make the best products and develop the most efficient ways of delivering them to our dealers and consumers. Customer service is paramount here at Eastern Bikes and that is something that we’re really proud of. Another great separation piece is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously; I just peed myself to be funny.
Where can people pick up Eastern products?
(Leigh) Once they buy an Eastern Bikes product they are free to pick it up anywhere they bring it. Our stuff is pretty light so it shouldn’t be that bad lifting it. What was the question again? Oh just check out www.easternbikes.com/dealers/.
Bryan Byrd – Shocka Brah Tree Ride
Who should shops or distributors contact to get Eastern in their shops and warehouses?
(Leigh) Just email our handsome sales manager Bryan Byrd, at [email protected]
Anything else you can tell us about Eastern that I might not know about?
(Leigh) I think the biggest misconception about Eastern is that we are just some company from Taiwan. Eastern is owned by riders and other than our accountant and two guys in the warehouse, most everyone here rides and is very passionate about BMX.
(Byrd) Also, given the right circumstances; me love you long time.
Check out the rest of the Eastern video on their Vimeo page.