Exhausts and iPhones: Gadget geeks find a home at Two Brothers

Publish Date: 
Jun 12, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

As the moto-business grew, his fledgling company hired on notable tuners Mike Velasco, Dan Kyle and Erion’s brother, racer Kevin Erion. In 1991, he brought aboard former world champion “Fast” Freddie Spencer to campaign a Honda RC30 in the AMA Superbike Championships. “We weren’t making any money,” Erion said, “but, we were spending money like crazy.”

The whole thing was working, with little financing other than what the construction business brought in. They sold some exhaust systems, some shirts featuring Fast Freddie, but nothing that would constitute a business — but it was working. Right up until it wasn’t.

“I would say that around the end of 1993, the whole [gas station] construction industry imploded due to new environmental regulations. Literally, it was like a switch turned off,” Erion said. “I was looking around thinking, Oh my gosh. We’d sold a few exhaust systems that we were having outsourced. We were selling T-shirts. Jeff Whitten, now my business partner, he said, ‘We still have a few pipes and the phones are ringing, so let’s ride out this storm and see what happens.’

“I really have Jeff to thank because I was at wit’s end and didn’t know what to do,” he noted

Jumping into the motorcycle exhaust market meant going neck-deep into a business about which they knew very little. The powersports industry is rife with similar stories, whether they be from dealerships, manufacturers, builders, you name it; entire companies started on one common premise: Hey, we like motorcycles, let’s go into business.

Erion said he discovered the clannish nature of the motorcycle industry, quickly realizing there were no mentors to be had, no competitors pulling him aside to let him know what to do or not to do. And, as with many of the businesses that have traveled this same arc, Two Brothers Racing found itself charging into one heckuva learning curve.

“I was clueless about how the business worked. Jeff was too. We were all clueless,” Erion said. “We knew we liked motorcycles and we liked making cool stuff, but we had no idea how it sold. We had no idea about Cincinnati, the dealer show back then. I remember someone going, ‘Hey, you going to Cincinnati this year?’ I was like, what’s that?” (continued)