BMX International - Profile
Originally called BMX Promotions Pty Ltd, BMX International Pty Ltd as we know it today started 40 years ago in 1977. This Historical account has been supplied by Scott Shepherd, and gives a fantastic insight into the longest running BMX company in Australia.
Scott Shepherd, with the help of his father (Blair Shepherd) purchased BMX parts to add to his dragster and ride on the vacant land which eventually became “Windsor BMX Track”. Blair Shepherd purchased two of the first BMX Bikes in Australia, which were imported from the USA to Australia by Bob Panter Cycles on the Gold Coast.
Blair saw the potential of new sport, having a 15yr old son of his own, he started up a track and racing to promote the sport.
The BMX racing at the Windsor Track that Blair had started had the kids needing to outfit themselves with bikes and parts, which were not available in reliable quantities at this time. With Bob Panter’s help, Blair set up his first shop at the Windsor track to sell tyres, tubes and then, Yellow Tuff Wheels. When bikes were breaking on weekends, parts were available to fix them there and then - this was the perfect market place because potential buyers met on a regular basis. Before long, parents and kids were wanting race clothing and started to see the need for Helmets. Safety was becoming hyped up as concern from the media as they were seeing kids jumping and racing unprotected.
Blair’s promotion of the sport made it stronger, this increased the market for larger amounts of BMX Bicycles and parts. It created the need for an industry to produce or import and then distribute to bike shops. The Shepherd family took a trip to the USA, which forged relationships that still exist today. Blair met the father of the BMX scene, Howie Cohen, a huge fun excitable man with enthusiasm to burn. He distributed all the available parts through his business, “Everything Bicycles”. He introduced us to his good friends Linn Kastan (Redline), Skip Hess (Mongoose) and Chuck Raudman (Skyway).
These four men were the most influential drivers in the BMX scene at the time and we had the opportunity to be their representatives in our country (which they had never heard of). They organised a container of Skyway Tuff Wheels to be sent out immediately (Tuff Wheel 1’s coaster brake in yellow) and when they arrived they sold out straight away. A business name was needed, so that was the birth of BMX Promotions Pty Ltd – named because we were promoting the sport.
BMX Promotions started to import and sell Skyway Wheels called Tuff Wheels because they were much tougher, they were made out of a Zytel nylon rather than steel or alloy rims with metal spokes. Skyway Tuff wheels have been one of the most successful products imported and distributed by BMX Promotions/International. We have distributed Skyway in Australia since the start and we are still selling them now. Skyway had its 50th Birthday in 2016.
Blair opened a small shop up above his car yard office in Horace Street at Windsor (50 meters from the track). The Detail bay soon became the storage shed. His son Scott was running it for a while when Howie asked if we needed any help to set up. It was agreed that it was a good idea so a young boy from California called Spencer Salem flew out to help for 6 months or so. Blair & Scott had a visit from Keith Stevens, son of Chuck Stevens who owned and operated ACS (American Cycle Systems) to also lend a hand teaching us how to run this business. Keith now runs the ACS company in the USA.
Business was now booming because the racing scene was hot. At BMX Promotions we were now importing Redline, Mongoose, DG, Race Inc., Skyway, FMF PK Rippers and Quadangles, MCS, GJS, Cook Bros, Webco, Ashtabula, Bullseye, Tioga, and many more lesser known. If it existed, BMX Promotions had it. The containers were pouring in so we decided to try a rep on the road. Jack Cornish was a friend who took on the task of travelling Australia in a Lite-Ace van loaded up with the best gear money could buy.
Blair was visited by a young bloke who we had been dealing with at Cycles Australia - Bill DeMaid. He walked down to the BMX track to find Blair and said to him he needed a job. As Spencer Salem was returning to the USA and we needed a salesman Bill was given a 2 week trial and is still with us today. BMX Promotions moved from the upstairs office at Horace St, to a larger warehouse across Lutwyche Road, so the Detail bay of the car yard could once again accommodate cars. At this stage Redlines and Mongooses were selling by the thousands, but only as frames, not complete bicycles.
BMX Promotions had well and truly outgrown the Lutwyche shed (more like a shack) so it moved to a huge premises at Montpellier road, Bowen hills. It was at this stage that Blair also introduced Supercross racing to Australia. As the Supercross, BMX racing and many other ventures were becoming a full time job, Blair’s secretary Heather Hunter came to work full time at BMX Promotions. She did a fine job and stayed up until 1995.
Another packer was needed so a Factory Redline rider Bruce Skardon was given the job. BMX Promotions now had 4 employees, Bill, Heather, Bruce and Scott. We decided to venture into Taiwanese made bicycles bringing in our own brand (Univega) of BMX and Adult bicycles. Our agent Susan Su from AFS Cycle Supplies did a fantastic job of helping us get around Taiwan and communicate to suppliers (who could speak no or little English). This was before Taiwan was supplying large scale production of bikes to the world and looking back the bikes were very ordinary to say the least. It is now known that Taiwan builds some of the best bikes in the world market today. Bill started yearly trips to Taiwan and the USA which Scott continues to this day.
BMX Promotions was still at Montpellier Road in the Valley. We started manufacturing the Redline frames here on the Gold Coast, Australia. Linn Kastan (Redline’s owner) visited down under to set the process up and we contracted two Gold Coast specialist Chromoly welders, Gary and Greg Gardiner to do the job. Tube sets were sent out from Japan, the frames were made/welded, painted and decaled into nished frames ready for sale. This was done here until the demand for complete bicycles became too great, so the Redline brand was then imported from Japan as a boxed bicycle.
Blair rebuilt some new sheds on his Windsor property opposite the Windsor BMX track so it was a natural progression to move the business to there. Now back at Windsor, the business was starting to show growth again. At this time, Mongoose was dropped and Redline became our major brand, which was a decision we never regretted, and now our resources were stretched to the max. Dave Fuller was recruited from Redcliffe Cycles to replace Scott in 1983 who ventured into another life for 3 years. Dave was to be a major driving force in the company with Bill for the next 20 years.
Scott returned and the business was firmly in a grip of enormous growth. BMX Promotions expanded our Univega brand of MTB, Road, and Triathlon bikes. One of the reasons for growth was the introduction of the mobile showroom. Scott decked out an old Ford Trader Pantech as a travelling showroom and started travelling North, South, East and West. After a year it was upgraded to a Toyota Dyna but reliability was a problem. So in 1990 we purchased a brand new Isuzu FSR450 and lined the Pantech and decked it out with 15 bikes and many parts. Scott and Dave took it to all but Western Australia and helped increase our dealer network to in excess of 400.
We started attending the National Trade shows in Sydney and Melbourne to promote our company and the many products we carried. We started to get into the sponsorship scene and helped start up the AFT (Australian Freestyle Team) all riding Skyway bikes and travelling the country promoting Freestyle. We helped out teams including JC Epidemic, FMX Showtime and Nitro Circus.
World Expo was held in Brisbane. At this time BMX employed the services of 16yo Jason Gibson from Strathpine Bicycle Centre. Jason stayed for 12 years before opening his own retail shop at Agnes Water in Central Queensland. The big event for us at this time was the rights to distribute the Odyssey brand of BMX parts, which at the time was a small company growing slowly to the point where they are now the number 1 BMX parts supplier in Australia.
A record couple of years saw us looking for a bigger warehouse and as Bill, Dave, Jason and Scott all rode to work on Bicycles, it was decided to move out of the fringes of the CBD to a more friendly location. 26 Basalt St Geebung was purchased and hundreds of bikes and thousands of dollar’s worth of parts were moved. (This location served us well for the next 20 years).
BMX Promotions set about working out how to plan for the future. A decision was made to remove our home brand range of bikes (Univega), as Redline was now becoming our main driving force. At this stage, we were focusing on Redline, Odyssey, Kastan, Skyway and an array of Japanese and Taiwanese parts. Our range of parts now exceeded 2,000 lines of product.
It was also around now that we offered Custom Wheel building to our dealer network. This was a huge part of our business which we still offer today, and are one few companies doing so. Another first for us was the start of our Monthly Mail outs. This is a 4, 8 or 12 page yer we produce in-house every month to promote the latest parts and bike offerings and is a good up to date source of information for our dealers. The advent of the colour printer made these look very professional for their time.
BMX Promotions installed their first computer to handle our increasing freight load. This was our first steps in moving into the technological age. Our Isuzu truck / Showroom was finally sold as we had our dealer network sorted. We also established Rep’s on the road to service our dealers. Heather retired after a loyal service to Blair for over 25 years. We started setting up and having our own trade shows in-house each year to showcase the latest Redline bikes for the season.
With the help of Blair’s daughter in law, Janene Shepherd - BMX Promotions accounting system became computerized. With the end of promoting the sport of BMX Racing, (this was now done by BMX Australia), we had a name change to our current name, BMX International Pty Ltd to reflect our new business focus.
Kylie Barling then took over full time and quickly became our graphics and art guru and still is to this day.
BMX International had a network of over 700 dealers Australia wide and also supplied New Zealand with selected products. Our product lines now exceeded 3000 and were being constantly updated. Sunday Bikes is started by Jim Cielencki, one of the world’s most respected freestyle riders. Since then, many Bikes, Frames, Forks and Handlebars with the famous Sunday speech bubble were sold here in Australia. Jason left after 12 years and then Dave after 20 years and Don after 7 years, we decided to head in a new direction.
We employed the future staff of BMX International. Mark Turvey from Strathpine Bicycle Centre, Kevin Craft and Scott Dutton from Bums On Bikes, Troy Hawkins from Velo Bicycles, Michael Huggers previously from Kallangur Cycles and Chris Mannion from Tom Wallace Cycles now joined us over the next few years.
The year that BMX joined the Olympic arena saw the sport propel to new heights as mainstream media gave it much needed air time. Not only did racing take off, but freestyle also had a boost along and gained recognition as a popular pastime. Now many riders could make a living off BMX as a full time job in both disciplines.
Jim Cielencki started his Sunday complete bikes and these were an instant hit. This was the only other bike brand we had distributed since the early years - except for Redline and Univega.
The most successful X Games rider of all time, Dave Mirra, together with his business partner Jim Ford, had established MirraCo bikes 5 years previous and now wanting to expand their ever increasing range of bikes throughout the world, signed up BMX International to distribute their bikes in Australia. This was a huge step for us as we still operated out of our once large warehouse that was now looking very small to handle the thousands of MirraCo bikes that pass through the doors each year. This year also saw the introduction of our new website and online ordering. This was managed by Kylie and updated daily with product, race results; latest YouTube uploads from our riders, best-selling parts and interesting new products and reviews.
BMX International was approached by the Wemakethings group of companies to represent their products in Australia which included Wethepeople bikes, Éclat, Salt, SaltPlus parts as well as Fuse wear. This is now the largest part of our sales.
The Olympic year where BMX had its second run and a new national hero was unearthed. Our very own Redline Aussie, world #1 Sam Willoughby. Having been associated with Sam made us very proud to see that Silver medal around his neck. We continued to have a great group of riders in our Redline team which is managed by Barry Harvey as a very professional out t. The Redline Australia team had been the most successful team for many years. Prior team managers were John Vockenson and Jim Carmondy. BMX International introduced its new range of in-house products called DRS which has a great affordable range of Helmets, Scooters, Unicycles and parts.
BMXI was renting two offsite warehouses as the Basalt Street property could not cope with the increased turnover so a new premises was sourced. In September that year, BMXI moved to 23 Telford St Virginia (our current address) so all was under one roof.
BMXI upgraded its computer systems and integrated it with the website for better automation of data transfer between both. We were unfortunate this year to also sadly lose Dave Mirra. He will be missed by all the BMX world but his legacy will live on. We were also saddened to hear Sam Willoughby had tragically been injured while practicing. The BMX Racing world will also miss his competitiveness on the track but we wish him all the best in his recovery.
2017 - 2018
So from humble beginnings from a staff of three and a turnover of no more than a couple of container loads of product, BMX International now has 10 staff operating out of our warehouse. We see more than 45 container loads of product pass through our warehouse each year. We currently have in excess of 5,000 product lines and a dealer network of over 800. BMXI has been blessed with many team riders in the past and present and we thank all of them for representing our brands internationally, Just to name a few who have had huge success over the years are:
Redline riders - Kamakazi, Sam Willoughby, Kai and Saya Sakakibara, Sarah and Lachlan Harvey, Tommy Tucker
MirraCo riders - Kyle Baldock, Jai Toohey, Logan Martin
We are one of the most respected BMX wholesale companies in Australia and a genuine one stop shop for our network of dealers, which now exceeds 800. Now in its 40th year, BMX International has been the distributor of more BMX brands than anyone else, but the main achievements have been:
Redline – 40 years
Skyway – 40 years
Odyssey – 29 years
Snafu – 17 years
Sunday – 13 years
MirraCo – 8 years
Wethepeople – 7 years
2017 also sees us expand into other brands with the acquisition of FitBikeCo, S&M and Hyper.
BMX International, as a family company, continues to grow and be morally obligated to support the Independent Bike Dealers. We have a great network of loyal dealers throughout Australia and will continue to supply the latest parts at the best possible prices so all the Australian public can source these great branded products locally and for a reasonable and affordable price.
Celebrating 40 years as a BMX wholesaler, we have been served by many loyal staff members. Our current staff are:
Blair Shepherd – Company Director/CEO – 40 years
Bill DeMaid – Sales and Company Manager – 39 years
Scott Shepherd – Purchasing and Assistant Manager – 39 years
Debbie Voysey – Office Manager – 30 years
Janene Shepherd –Administration & Accounting – 22 years
Kylie Barling – Graphics and Promotion – 18 years
Kevin Craft – Warehouse Manager and Sales – 13 years
Michael Huggers – Warehouse, Sales and Stock - 10 years
Allan Woods – IT Administrator – 8 years
Chris Mannion –Warehouse, Sales and Mechanic – 6 years
Katrina Millar – Office and Graphics – 3 years
When we got started back 40 years ago, no one imagined that we would be still involved with BMX today. Without the BMX riders, the loyal followers of the BMX sport and our supportive dealer network we wouldn’t still be here today, thank you to all of you for your association and support over the past 40 years.