Pomona,CA //January 23rd, 2008
After months of grinding the pavement and some very large chucks of ABS plastic, the third iteration of the Roddler was born. Joe and I have thrown everything but the kitchen sinks into our business and we were set to make our mark. We had lined up an investor meeting, an interview with TV Guide, and a booth at the Grand National Roadster Show. All this and we were to be toting around Lebron James personal Roddler and set to hand off before we head home. It was going to be a marketing weekend of epic proportions.
I was on a plane back out west, with butterflies in my stomach and our new potential suitor sitting next to me. I knew that what would happen in over the next 4 days would seal our fate. Most of the hype we had generated to this point was emanating from our launch at the first Kids Expo, so this type of press was even new to us.
Given the fact we were working from lap top bags and Blackberrys, Joe rented and converted the conference room of a hotel into our showroom. An hour past the start of the meeting, I’ve detailed the nuts and bolts of the business and there was no more drinks or lip service that I could offer that would cut the tension in the room. There was no Roddler on site, just a bunch of parts, printed pictures and flyers. I had never even seen a picture of what Joe was working on so I was working on blind faith. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Steph roll in, pushing Lebron’s Roddler with 13 fresh coats of clear and a newly programmed GPS unit. Meeting adjourned. Money on route, on to the next stop.
After processing the insane reality that we were about to make a business of the monster we’d created, we were set to embark on a blissful weekend to tell the world about it. Our caravan’s en route down the 5, a quick stop at Jack in the Crack for their famed breakfast Burritos and we’re on our way. We’ve spoke a few times about the Grapevine. It’s the most heavily traveled freeway connecting Northern andSouthern California, and it’s just treacherous. So when you get stopped at the base and the Highway patrol is telling you that you can’t pass due to snow and ice, it is a very difficult thing to process. Two hours of waiting later and this is starting to settle in as reality. I left a Canadian winter for a weekend to have some ass tell me that I can’t drive because there is a little snow?! FML. 40 calls later to the TV Guide booking agent and we were notified that we could take all the time we needed to get down there because the interview was not gonna happen. Strike one.
Even after the setback the day prior, every days is a perfect day for the Grand National Roadster show in Pomona. We filed out of our hotel and over to the show grounds to set up our stand. We had our life-size Lebron James wall sticker stuck to the floor under the Roddler, just in case you missed his signature on the Fenders and a big Kid Kustoms ol’ banner from the trade show. As people starting pouring into the show and gawking at our baby, we knew we were finally at home with a crowd that can appreciate the craftsmanship and hours of work that were poured into this. This isn’t your every day Roddler and never was. It was one of 3 we ever made with that chassis (pre-pre-trike conversion), all parts are real chrome, the seat is real leather and suede, the GPS unit is harmon/kardon, one-of-a kind red wall tires, there are disk brakes, billet wheels and about $2,500 worth of the best paint money can buy. All said and done, it cost a real $15,000, without accounting for the tooling. Needless to say it was a showstopper. So when it came to award time, it was no surprise that we were called to the podium. The only surprise was that the trophy we took home was for second place. The first place stroller was some stupid shopping cart with a stick that was modeled into an old mustang or some crap. Strike 2.
Well, at least to close off what was a relatively unsuccessful weekend, we were headed back to LA with one final highlight to write. The Cavs were set to play the Lakers, and before he hit the court, we were scheduled to meet the legend himself and hand off our pride and joy. Another 40 calls to his assistant, 3 hours of waiting and finally we’re exasperated. I need to make my flight and Joe’s still gotta head back North. Very unfortunately will a full load that we inevitably need to still ship toAkron,OH. If you can believe it, Joe still built a wooden crate for it and we shipped it for $2,000 to whatever farm address his assistant gave me. Strike 3. We never got even so much as a personal thank you let alone the picture we were promised, only some satisfaction in the fact that we were on to a new chapter.
After that whole whirlwind of a weekend I felt like I needed a rubber donut to sit on for the flight back. Holding my head in disbelief, all I end up coming home with is a phone bill to rival that a teenage girl and 7 more months to figure out how we are going to turn this fate and epic roller-coaster ride into a business.