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

Publish Date: 
Jun 12, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

ENTER ROKFORM
So that’s it, right? You just go from motorcycle pipes to protective cases, just like that. Surely this must have been a huge departure from Two Brothers’ core business, a tremendous leap to take? Erion says nope. Not a departure at all.

“Departure for me was making a living off digging 13 ft. deep holes in the ground and putting 10,000 gallon tanks in them to selling motorcycle exhaust systems,” Erion said. “So, for me, there is no such thing as a core business.”

Even so, jumping into such a wildly different market had it’s own learning curve and expense. After learning about polycarbonate parts, they opted to go with plastic cases. This meant injection molding equipment and tooling that required a huge check right up front. Distribution turned out to be a different animal.

At first they ran the two businesses together, doing small-scale production of the cases before ramping things up. At first they ignored the powersports market being they didn’t have a motorcycle mount for a phone. The company jumped in with consumer direct sales and that’s what they’ve stuck with. Albrecht says that distribution is still a struggle given the limited number of SKUs and that the product, for the most part, made in the USA.

The two businesses are now run as separate companies, although there are some common threads that run through both. That thing about the two companies simply making aftermarket pieces to improve in existing products. As with pipes, it’s imperative to be first to market with new product. Rokform iPad cases and recently released a case for the iPad Mini.

Technical features and improved functionality are also hugely important, as is design. Sounds a bit like the motorcycle aftermarket, no? Well guess what? The same guy who designs Two Brothers exhausts, Bernhard Leitner designs the Rokform cases.

When building up the Rokform product line, the company didn’t stop with cases. It also created a full line of accessories — a desktop docking stand, a bicycle mount, a lanyard, a magnet kit — most of which revolve around an integrated mounting system. There’s even the Rokmeister, a belt clip that doubles as a bottle opener. “We have our priorities around here,” Erion joked.

“Functionality is our primary objective when we set about designing a new product, be it TBR or Rokform,” he said. “Our in-house design team, headed up by Leitner, simply is the best at making functional design look totally stylized. They have achieved the best of both worlds with all of the Rokform and Two Brothers Racing product lines.”

There was one major difference that Two Brothers discovered with the Rokform business. It was that there is so much market share to be had in the consumer electronics market, their competitors are happy to pull them aside and offer advice without expecting any quid pro quo. No moto-clannishness here.

“It’s turned out to be a pretty exciting and challenging business,” Erion said. “The good news for Two Brothers is this business has forced us to expand our horizons, and we’re already implementing stuff we’ve learned in the manufacturing side, in marketing, working with vendors.”

Photos courtesy of Two Brothers Racing and Rokform