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AMA Champion Roland Sands and Nitro Circus star Andy Bell team up

By General Posts

Roland Sands, left, Andy Bell and Erik Bond inside the joint headquarters of Roland Sands Design and Sweatpants Media

from https://lbbusinessjournal.com/ by Brandon Richardson

‘Nitro Circus’ star, ex-motorcycle racer team up to open creative business campus in Zaferia

A gearhead and an adrenaline junkie meet at a trade show. There is no punchline.

Andy Bell and Roland Sands hit it off immediately nearly 20 years ago and have been friends ever since. The two went on to create separate businesses—Roland Sands Design and Sweatpants Media—and, after years of operating out of their respective headquarters, have come together to create a joint home base in Long Beach’s Zaferia neighborhood.

The companies together purchased a multi-building property at 1365 Obispo Ave. with a vision for a creative campus. Along with their firms, the graphics company Spin Imaging and Moxi Roller Skates also will call the campus home in a building separate from Sands’ and Bell’s space.

“We just wanted like-minded but different companies here to fuel a vibe of people that are stoked and doing rad stuff,” Bell said.

“People we can hang out with,” Sands added. “Fabrication, 3D fabrication, film, photography, graphics, printing—it’s all here. Almost any project is possible here, and that’s a pretty special thing.”

The friends almost missed out on the space, Sands said. The building was listed in 2018, but he was not in a position to take on the project by himself—and Bell was not ready to jump into such a massive undertaking. But when another buyer went into escrow on the site, the pair said they instantly knew they made a mistake.

“This place was built in the ’40s, and it’s gorgeous,” Sands said.

After months in escrow, the deal fell through, and Bell and Sands pounced. They bought the property for about $3 million in July 2019.

The Roland Sands Design custom motorcycle shop inside the company’s new Long Beach headquarters

The tenant had a few months left on their lease, so the roughly $2.5 million buildout did not get underway until just before the pandemic, which slowed progress on the rehab. But after nearly two years, the companies are celebrating their grand opening Saturday.

The space features a retail store (open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), a screening theater, 3D and other fabrication facilities, a wood-working space, a motorcycle garage, design rooms and a slew of offices. It also includes a bar, a two-chair barbershop for special events for clients that could also be utilized by a tattoo artist, and dozens of motorcycles and helmets on display.

A third building is currently set up as a jam space for musician friends of Bell and Sands. The room has a stage and is full of vintage and modern musical equipment. The two said they have toyed with the idea of turning it into a legitimate music venue, but that won’t happen until well into the future, if at all.

Bell and Sands each had a career riding motorcycles—the latter racing on the roads of the U.S., the former flying through the air in freestyle motocross—before they met each other in the early 2000s at a motorcycle trade show in Indianapolis.

Sands, a Long Beach native, grew up around motorcycles.

“I was fully immersed in the culture because my dad was in the motorcycle industry,” Sands said, adding that he would work in his dad’s shop as a kid.

In 2005, after a racing career that included winning the 1998 American Motorcyclist Association 250cc Grand Prix Championship, Sands turned his success—and name—into a brand. The firm specializes in creating custom bikes and parts (some of which are 3D-printed). The company has grown to include a clothing and apparel line as well as a racing team.

Bell, meanwhile, was not so much into the technical side of the sport.

“I’m more of an adrenaline junkie,” Bell said, sitting in his new office complete with a beer tap. “I never liked building and working on the s—, I liked riding and jumping them.”

After his professional freestyle motocross career, Bell went on to become a stuntman, appearing on numerous TV shows and films, including “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory” and “Jackass 3D.” Most notably, Bell starred in the “Nitro Circus” films and MTV series alongside Travis Pastrana and a host of other extreme-sport athletes.

Bell founded Sweatpants Media in 2012.

“I needed a change from getting hurt for a living and all the crap we used to do,” Bell said. “I didn’t know anything about production, but I’d been around it as talent. I’ve never owned a real business before and a decade later, here we are.”

Today, Sweatpants has numerous high-end clients, including Toyota, Red Bull, Mercedes, Lexus and Japanese powertool manufacturer Makita. With over 15 million views on YouTube, Sweatpants’ “The Pitch” for Toyota was the most widely viewed commercial in the U.S. in the third quarter, Bell said.

“The Pitch” – 2022 Toyota GR Supra Commercial by Sweatpants Media (15 million+ views since June 2021)

Bell and Sands try to utilize each other and their respective businesses as much as possible. The companies have teamed up on projects, including creating a custom bike for BMW with an accompanying video. After the premiere, the pair and their wives rode BMW bikes around Italy’s Lake Como.

On another project, Sweatpants flew three Toyota trucks into Vietnam and then drove them across the country. Sands and Bell were two of the three drivers who made the trek.

“We don’t like to fake s—,” Bell said. “Instead of pretending we were in Vietnam and pretending we flew trucks under helicopters, we actually did it. There is a tinge of adventure in everything we do.”

“We like to combine work and play,” Sands added.

Sands convinced Bell to move into a house around the corner from his on Naples Island in 2010. The best friends were neighbors for years before Sands moved to Park Estates.

For the last 12 years, Los Alamitos was home to Sands’ business, but he said he has always wanted to open a space in his hometown, closer to where he lives. For nearly nine years, Sweatpants operated out of the historic Villa Riviera in Downtown. But the two are looking forward to the quasi-business merger.

“We’re stoked. It’s fun being best friends and business partners,” Bell said. “There’s a little bit of yelling and a lot of hugging; a lot of wanting to punch each other and then a lot of wanting to drink beers together.”

“Thankfully for us,” Sands added, “we want to drink with each other more than we want to fight.”

The Roland Sands Design retail space at the company’s new joint headquarters with Sweatpants Media

Motorcycle manufacturer KTM expanding U.S. HQ in Murrieta

By General Posts

by Samantha Gowen from https://www.sbsun.com

KTM, an Austrian manufacturer of street and off-road motorcycles, is expanding its North American headquarters in Murrieta to a new campus.

A groundbreaking is expected in August.

KTM NA (North America) is building its campus at the northeast corner of Winchester and Borel roads. The company, led by CEO John Hinz, says it will span 20 acres and include at least three buildings with more than 150,000 square feet of technical, office, warehouse and racing departments.

The development is one block south of KTM NA’s private motorsports facility, which is used for testing products and athlete training. It has two supercross-style dirt tracks, two extreme off-road courses and a trials competition section.

The company sells its motorcycles and related gear through independent dealers across the U.S.

We asked the company about its new HQ and what it’s bringing to the Temecula Valley. Tom Moen, KTM’s marketing manager, gave us an update.

Q: Tell us more about the KTM brand and what it makes.

A: We have three brands of motorcycles we build and distribute to our dealers, KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas. In those brands, we have an array of products from balance bikes for 3-year-old children up to 1290 Adventure motorcycles. Plus we have electric minibikes and a full-size, off-road electric bike.

We also produce and sell parts and accessories to our dealers, everything from T-shirts to full riding suits and anything for protection and safety equipment, kids to adults sizes.

Q: Where was KTM’s North American HQ previously?

A: Our headquarters was back in Amherst, Ohio. We also had sales and marketing offices down in El Cajon. We moved to Temecula in 2004 and opened our current headquarters in Murrieta in 2009, which has grown to four buildings now (and we are outgrowing them). Our Ohio offices are now the parts warehouse and dealer training center

Q: How long has the test track been operational?

A: Our private test track has been fully operational for 3 years now. It’s right above our current offices off Technology and Innovation streets, south of French Valley airport.

Q: It sounds like business is going well. Can you share more?

A: Our company has been doing very well in the off-road market for a while. This is where we lead in market share among the other brands. Our street segment has grown in the past three years, and we are/have been the largest European motorcycle manufacture in North America.

We’ve been seeing 10% average growth for the past years, and this last year was our best year retail sales-wise for our dealers.

Q: How did the pandemic impact the company?

A: COVID just made people want to get out and do things. Riding motorcycles was something you could do with yourself and your families. We were lucky that our production was down for only a month or so, but once it got going, they delivered what we had planned for the year, pre-COVID. Plus, we took some other countries’ product while they were in lockdown. There was demand and we were able to supply the product.

Q: Will KTM NA be hiring?

A: Yes, with the new HQ expansion we will be hiring more staff. It’s hard to say how many at first, but the company sees potential to increase HQ staff by 50 within the first year at the new HQ.

Q: Does the region (and a certain love for the outdoors) help KTM’s business?

A: Yes Southern Cal and the Southwest is the hot spot for offroad and all general motorcycling. We have the best weather!!

KTM has been making motorcycles and gear in the North American market since 1967. The company says it has grown its U.S. workforce, expanding to 150 employees from 30 since 2009.