During the first ten days of March, more than half a million bikers will descend on Daytona Beach, Fla. for what is considered the world’s largest motorcycle event: Bike Week.
While the name Harley Davidson is branded on nearly every "hog" that will be roaring through the streets, what about the jackets on the backs of those riders? The marketplace for motorcycle apparel is crowded with competitors, but one name keeps showing up on more and more labels: Fox Creek Leather.
Its custom-crafted, American-made apparel yielded $2 million in revenue last year for the Appalachians-based company, but product alone hasn’t made Fox Creek one of the nation’s leading providers of motorcycle gear. Rather, credit the Trachy family’s decision to throw every penny and ounce of energy into an arena that might not seem a natural fit for a business catering to the outlaw, backroads crowd: the Internet.
For two decades, Paul Trachy built his company with sweat and gasoline, traveling across the country, selling his products at swap meets, drag races and biker rallies like the one in Daytona. Tired of watching his aging father struggle to keep the business alive, son Pete graduated from college and insisted on jumpstarting a web site. "He was just trying to save my life," says Trachy.
Within a few years, the company’s revenue had increased by ten times, thanks to internet marketing, word-of-mouth and enthusiasm for the company’s reasonably priced product line.
Fox Creek recently left its barn for a new $400,000 headquarters in Independence, Va. "We had to stop hiring people because there was not enough space to put more desks," says Trachy. A retail store inside the headquarters is expected to lure bikers from the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.
As for Daytona, Trachy says he’s happy to sit out this year’s Bike Week and let his Web site do the selling for him.