We all have those lightbulb moments when we come up with the next great product. But so very few of us have the insight, the talent or the resources to turn that “aha” into a best seller.
Tucker Rocky’s vice president of product development Brian Berney has the chops to take his bright ideas from the back of the napkin to the shelves in your dealership.
Berney came to Tucker Rocky six years ago after leaving the helm at Wiseco Piston. He brought 35 years of manufacturing experience to the distributor as well as a lifetime of experience as a motorcycle enthusiast.
When I visited with Berney at Tucker Rocky’s Fort Worth headquarters in early May, he had an astonishing 128 products in development. While he was tight lipped on what we can expect to see released from Tucker Rocky’s house brands including the wildly successful Bikemaster product line, he was happy to share the story of the birth of the Laguna GPS tank bag.
“I was going for a ride, and I like GPS units, but I don’t want to put them on my handlebars — I hate weight on my handlebars,” related Berney. “So I needed to put the GPS somewhere else.”
Berney went on to describe how he designed a zip-out pocket that lifted up with a swing-out face on it. He next had to develop the power line and a special cigarette lighter that had a USB and a cigarette lighter adapter, so people could use their smart phone, GPS or any of their devices. The final product offers riders four outlets so they can use all of their devices simultaneously. “It goes right into a Firstgear bag and it works perfectly,” concluded Berney.
I asked Berney about the fine balance of developing house brands without alienating the 850-plus manufacturers who sell some 135,000 SKUs through the distributor.
“What I always try to do when I am designing a product for a house brand, I try to give it attributes that design it as itself. I come up with a product as though it were a competitive product out in the marketplace, and it is competing on its own rights, not as copy of another product,” explained Berney. “To the best of my ability, I make our products stand out. I give them a defining characteristic that’s better than the other products out there. That makes everybody better. Because those competitors in the market now have to step it up and come up with something different and better than mine.”
While working on some 128 products at once seems like plenty to keep one man busy, a good percentage of his work is dedicated to helping other people’s great ideas come to life.
“Manufacturers build a product and come to us and say, ‘Hey we’re, looking for distribution now,’” said Berney. He went on to relate how many manufacturers need help getting their ideas off the ground.
“I help businesses get started. That’s actually something that we want to do. Because if we just take a manufacturer’s product off his hands, it’s one and done. If we help them build a business, we’ll get the next idea and the next.”
Berney works with a huge group of manufacturers around the world. He can look at somebody’s product and say, “You know, there’s a guy in
Taiwan that does CNC work, and he can take this product and finish it and box it and sell it to you and you can sell it to us.”
But before any product is sold to Tucker Rocky, the new product committee headed up by Berney diligently examines every aspect of the product and the path it will take to a dealership’s shelf. Design, safety, logistics and pricing all come into play.
“This is the school of business. You learn how to build a product here and take it into the marketplace. We help manufacturers to be successful. I think it is one of the reasons that we have such loyalty among the manufacturers and suppliers that sell to us.
“There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to design products for the 850 brands that we carry. To me, the best thing to do is to build loyalty and dedication among a group of people who are manufacturers making products and selling them to you. I want us to be known as the people who help businesses get started, not the people who take advantage of people,” concluded Berney.
Tucker Rocky Dealer Show
Fort Worth Convention Center
& Omni Hotel
In addition to more than 100 top vendors, the Tucker Rocky Dealer Show will feature top-notch educational seminars featuring Heather Blessington, and a
Sunday night party headlined by the Mars Hill Band! Talk to your Tucker Rocky rep today or visit www.trdealershow.com today to learn more.
Exhibitor List as of 06/01/2012
Daytona Twin Tec
Hinson Clutch Components
Jagg Oil Coolers
Speed and Strength
Warm & Safe