THUMPSTAR AUSTRALIA HAS A NEW NAME: TERRA-MOTO! EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TIM HUNTER
Check out this in depth interview with Timothy Hunter; the man behind Thumpstar pitbikes, talking about the rise and transition period of China's biggest pit bike manufacture. This is one guy who has followed his dream.
Well first of all it's been a long time since we seen you last and congratulations on the success of Thumpstar.
Thanks. Yes, last time was back in 1987 when I was racing for Honda in Motocross and was interviewed for a Mini Rider shootout.
So, tell us how it all started.
Well a good friend of mine attended a Trade Fair back in late 2003 and he stumbled across a pit bike and mentioned that we should import this product. So basically we did and it was not long after that I knew I could make one a whole lot better. So in April 2004 I signed a contract with a Taiwanese Company to help build these bikes. We used a Chinese manufacturing plant and then it took off from there.
How did you find it working with a Chinese assembler?
Of course for a young company we had to have a partner and this has caused some problems along the way but we have learnt from this and we have created the new Company using all of this knowledge both good and bad. It is far better to be in control of your own destiny which we now are 100%.
How did you guy's handle it, from nothing to over 45 million dollars of business in 13 months?
With the success of Thumpstar in such a short period of time there has been several companies follow and copy every move we make. Unfortunately some of our infrastructure was not in place from the start to protect us from all this, but one thing is for sure, we were watched by everyone, including the Europeans and we now have a European investor who has taken us to the next level in business management, finance, legalities and most of all design and development of new motorcycles.
So do you have Intellectual Property protection in place now?
Without a doubt, with the production starting for the 2007 models in August, we have over 30 patents alone on different parts of the bikes. We have also invested heavily in our own machinery for the manufacture of our unique components which gives us added security. Our legal team, including several strategically placed Lawyers have the Trademarks covered and copyright issues all wrapped up.
So if anyone does try and copy we'll have the ability to pursue it through the legal system. And we will! I look at all the current pit bikes produced in China today and I know somewhere on their bikes my original designs and thoughts have gone into at least one part some where.
How many countries now purchase your bikes?
We have over 20 countries at the moment and it's growing at a steady pace. We have opened divisions up in different regions of the world to accommodate the demand for our product. So we have Terra-Moto Europe, Terra-Moto the Americas and Terra- Moto Asia Pacific.
We are always on the look out for proactive professional importers who can really pull in the business but they need to have the industry knowledge and backup to be able to support this exciting new venture.
So the importer for Australia is who?
Stoney Creek Powersports, which was formally my parents company. Since it sold in November 2004 the new owners have now taken the company to a level where they distribute models that have the leading percentage of share in that sector. SCP imports everything from Scooters, European exotic road bikes together with my products. It was fast learning curves for the guys as they hopped on a massive wave with the release of the Thumpstar's and have gone from strength to strength. They now tell me they have released an interest free finance for all products they sell. This is a first in this industry.
So, you are serious about doing more models? The multi million dollars question is "WHAT'S NEXT"?
Well, without going into too much detail, naturally we will be having a larger dirt bike range, catering from pit bikes to full size street legal dirt bikes. Our plan is to have 7 models, from 50cc to around 600cc over the next 12 months. China has now formally joined the World Trade Organisation which gives us the rights to produce larger CC engines. We are also in discussions with some of the major European motorcycle and engine manufacturers with regards to joint venture so we can retrospectively start to share ideas and technology which we are all very excited about.
Sounds like it's exciting times ahead for you
For sure, our investor has given us involvement in his business plan and designs for 2007 to release a range on road motorcycles which will include retro scooters, streetfighter/naked style and motard models.
We have the next couple of years all mapped out which will bring the Terra-Moto brand to the attention of a very wide-ranging audience and with it the success it deserves.