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Over the years there have been different grassroots programs that have allowed riders to gain connections and get hook ups from different brands. These programs were all good opportunities, but they really lacked giving riders a sense of being a part of an actual team or the tools to help get their name out.
Then about a year ago, Jeremie Infelise worked with Sidewall Distribution to create a program that I think is one of the closest programs to being on a flow program for a bike or parts company called the Crux Division. In that time, there have been a number of riders that have been given the opportunity to get their name out and even get bumped up to sponsor deals.
With a new year just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to get ahold of Jeremie to talk about the program and to see what he has cooking with the Crux Division in the future. Let’s see what he had to say.
All right, let’s start this out from the start. When did you originally come up with the idea of doing the Crux Division? What was it that really got the idea in your head?
I came up with the idea early 2011. At the time there was a local kid in Oklahoma City who was up and coming and I knew he had the potential of going somewhere with riding in the near future. He wasn’t quite ready for a flow deal but knew something could be done there. I did some brainstorming, came up with the idea, then approached the owner of Sidewall Distro; Mark Owen with it. He was on board so we hashed out a few details and designated James Anderson our poster child for the project. He has since moved on to flow for Hoffman Bikes.
Cody Anderson tossing the bars at the Post Office.
What exactly is the Crux Division? Care to give us an explanation of what it’s all about and what kind of riders it’s looking for?
The simple idea behind Crux Divison is a basic grass roots program. It offers discounted product to riders working their way up the ladder. The motivation behind Crux Division is to take a step forward with the basic grass root programs currently out there. Giving our riders some of the perks that a sponsored rider would have along with helping them with their own progression on their bike and promoting their riding. I would like to think it helps put our next generation on a more level playing field with current sponsored riders. There are so many good un- noticed riders today. Web edits are a dime a dozen and our goal is to help get them out there with a more substantial identity for reference. How many times have you watched an amazing edit from an unknown kid and two days later you blank out on where you saw it, who it was, where they were from etc. Sometimes familiarity can be used in situations like this. You may not remember the dudes name but you can narrow it down a little if you noticed it was a Crux Division rider. Hit the site and 10 minutes later you could be watching that edit again. We also give them their own team page, send their edits out to our media outlets and push to get them in the habit of doing things most companies ask of their sponsored riders. (i.e. bike checks, site updates, promoting products through social media, filming and so on.)
We are looking for riders who are at the intermediate/am level motivated to create something positive for us, BMX and themselves.
I also want to add in that we do not act as agents fishing sponsorships for our riders. If someone sponsors a rider that they noticed through Crux Division then we have that satisfaction knowing we helped out. The spirit of riding and what we are about have far more to it than that.
Who is all involved with running the Crux Division? What kind of work is involved in keeping a project like this moving forward?
I take on most of the duties that keeps Crux going, but I also have help from the Sidewall staff as far as getting orders out and tweaks on the website.
Since the start, approximately how many riders have been a part of the Crux Division?
At the moment I type this there are 17 Selectees on the site. I recently added a batch of riders who I’m currently getting set up on the site.
Care to drop a few names of guys currently riding for the Crux Division?
I’m going to give some shine time to some of the veterans of the team:
Ronnie Grant: Ronnie is always riding and filming which shows. It’s awesome to notice the progression and maturity form first hand.
Lea Dobrowski: Currently the only female on the crew and a well proven flatland rider.
Matt Hildebrand: Another rider who has stepped it up with his riding in a very unique way lately as well as a really good photographer.
Frank Macchio: Frank has been well known on the east coast for sometime which has spread even before he was on Crux. Whether it’s street, flatland or combining both, there is always something new in Frank’s edits which he produces very often. Most of the time filmed by himself. A true DIY soul, which I admire.
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Eric Mesta sending it down a kinked rail at Standford.
I know you guys kind of renew the program every year, right? How long do you guys keep riders on the program? What kinds of things do you expect out of a rider to keep them on board?
In the last year and a half we have kept the program running the same, but as a natural progression the riders are taking it upon themselves to want to do more, so, some stuff is going to be laid on the table for 2013.
A rider either moves on if he has been offered a flow deal with a company or a rider maybe cut if we feel their interest is no longer there in which we could offer someone else the spot who may take better advantage of it. The latter has yet to happen though.
We do not require our riders to make huge purchases off the bat to ensure every part of their bike came from Sidewall, it’s not about that and honestly times are tough right now. I think the idea of creating this crew for them to be a part of is the main objective. And of course if they are stoked on what you are doing they will be stoked to eventually purchase the products we offer that they want to support. You can’t sell anything you don’t believe in. Everyone likes to feel a part of something I hope our guys feel they are apart of something good.
We do ask them to do bike/product checks, sometimes I hit them up for any random updates they may have and we ask they do an edit or two a year. These are also things companies look for if you are getting free product so it’s giving them a head start. It also gives them a sense to possibly progress these skills such as photos, filming and editing. These kids are learning stuff at a younger age, which is awesome for the future state of BMX and keeping it in good hands. These are the kids that will run everything in 10+ years, getting them as far in front of the learning curve could only have a positive effect….idealistacally. With that I want to point out an example/shout out. Lil’ Mikeys Beeswax is a good sample of what’s in store for the industry in the future. With the help from his Father, Mikey has created a great little company that just radiates this awesome positive vibe that has such a substantial impact on his local scene as well as the whole BMX scene. Look in the wax section of Dan’s Comp, I bet they made over half of the wax bars in there.
Matt Hildebrand popping a table over a rail in San Francisco.
What brands are currently involved with the Crux Division? How do you guys pick what brand a rider gets hooked up by?
Any brand under the Sidewall roof is game for the Crux Division riders. We let the riders pick what brands they want to rep. Again, if they aren’t into the brand they are putting under themselves, the vibe dies when they take the stickers off and paint it flat black. Their buddies wouldn’t even give it a second look next time they were needing something for their bike. I want someone to be into the program as a whole, not just to say “yo, I’m sponsored dude.” That’s not cool nor is it what it’s about.
I know there have been a few riders that really stood out from the Crux Divison since it’s start. Care to name a few that are good examples of guys that really took advantage of their opportunity?
I will give this one to the guys that moved on, whether it was a direct result of Crux could be questioned. I would like to think we helped, but at the end of the day it’s because of their hard work and ability to kill it on a bike.
Drew Jackson: Dude can ride anything you put in front of him, currently getting flow from S&M
Josh Clemens: He’s got the natural talent for riding. Started out with Sputnic but has recently found a home at SE Bikes. Heal up soon buddy!
Tom Kalamandis: Such a good chill dude who is a street shredder, currently getting help from Kink.
James Anderson: Crux guinea pig and at the forefront of the new OKC scene. On Hoffman flow.
Have their been any riders that have moved up from the Crux Division to sponsor deals with brands?
On our website we have 6 riders that have been “Promoted.”
How can riders go about getting involved with the Crux Division? What are some of the things you guys need in order to get a rider on board? I can’t imagine an email with a list of tricks a rider can do will do the trick…
We have a link on our page where you can fill out a recruitment form. You fill out some basic information, tell us a little about yourself and include links for an edit or two. This is the hardest part and I wish I could say yes to everyone. We also have a field where you can include some references which does help…
It seems like kids are doing so many wild tricks at such a young age these days. How old do you have to be to get involved with the program?
We don’t discriminate age. We mostly base it on judging personality through the recruitment form (near to impossible but everyone on board has been awesome so far), a sense of personal motivation and riding ability.
What kind of benefits does a rider involved with the Crux Division get? Are there any incentives for producing edits and photos like most brands do for their team riders?
Aside from some previous stuff I have listed there isn’t any monetary incentives other than heavy discounts on products. Like I said it’s just a grassroots program that offers a little more identity to the individual in return for them promoting Sidewall’s brands.
As the program grows, what are some things you would like to do with it? Any plans on doing trips, contests or even a video at all?
With some growth and a few minor adjustments to the program I would like to possibly have a rider help with the site updates, I have had someone inquire about wanting to do more stuff behind the scenes so I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t help out to get someone a feel for that part. Maybe even get some young filmers or photographers involved somehow in an area where we have a concentrated rider base. Also would like to get some things in line to create a little bit of funds for the guys to maybe do local trips and such. No contests or videos other than what the individual takes upon themselves. I want everyone to have as much involvement as possible with their own projects, which we will support. If they need help on how to organized a small event or maybe an editing tip, we are here for advice.
Nick Stout with a toboggan into the sunset.
Let’s say a brand is digging this program and want to get involved. How do they get involved as one of the sponsors?
Since it’s a Sidewall organized program that could take some fine tuning to incorporate a brand that may go through a different distro. But it’s something I would definitely be willing to explore. We could form some type of grass roots coalition or something.
Who should riders contact if they have general questions?
For general questions regarding Crux Division you can e-mail me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you see things going as time moves on?
I see Crux Division continuing as a program that helps deserving riders maintain their ride at an affordable price, at the same time continuing to promote a positive and constructive personal ethic. Regardless if they chose to further pursue riding or move on to something else.
I could also see this going in the direction of being a decent program for kids on the way up getting their feet wet being a sponsored rider. Including a brand using this type of program to gauge whether a rider will be able to follow through with routine demands that come with being sponsored. I know most teams pick riders by referrals within on average. But every once in a while I think a company could utilize something like this. We had a company we distro approach us with a rider who inquired to be sponsored by them. They came to us and I suggested they be put on Crux and see how well they do. So far it’s going well.
How can people keep up with the Crux Division? What’s the website? Are you guys on Facebook and Twitter?
Is there anything I missed you want to say?
If you are a shop and have a local shredder that would be a good fit feel free to inquire on their behalf. I would love for more shops to be involved. A lot of shops are the backbone for the local scenes and I would love to be a part of that everywhere. And I am welcome to any feedback one might have. Hit me up!
Last but not least thanks to Kurt and The Union for taking the time to do this with me.