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Catching up with Damien Ballinger

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds

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On a recent trip to Queensland for the 5th round of the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals I was able to head to Mcleods National office in Queensland for a quick tour, check out some of the 2014 range of products from Fly, M2R, Sidi and catch up with a few of Mcleods Brand Managers including Damien Ballinger.

We sat down with Damien to chat about everything from what he does on a day to day basis, how he got in to the motorcycling industry, how often he rides and what he does on those rare days when he does not have anything to do with the motorcycling world.

After leaving South Australia 13 years ago to start working with Mcleods in Melbourne before making the move to Queensland, there is no doubt Damien has a wealth of experience in the Motocross world.
While Damien is normally flat out working, he has enjoyed a couple of trips to the U.S to watch some Supercross action
Fullnoise: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Damien, first of all, what is your official title at Mcleod Accessories and what does your job entail?

Ballinger: My official Title is Motocross / Off-Road Brand Manager. I look after everything from ordering inventory, to organising advertising by working with our graphics guys, that includes all print and online advertising.

I also ensure we have the right stock available and making sure it gets out to our dealers. I spend time organising training and training our sales team and the dealerships that we work with and organise all the point of sale material for our vendors.

On the racing front I look after both individual riders we support as well as riders sponsored through dealerships and also the big team we sponsor in the Monster Energy Kawasaki team.

With the privateers it is all done one on one as well as through our Dealerships. When it comes to the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, most of my dealings are done with the team manager, Troy Carroll but there are also quite a bit of communication with both the teams riders, Jay Marmont and Adam Monea. So there is a bit of a mix of everything.

On top of that there are endless hours spent looking over spreadsheets. So pretty much a little bit of everything!

Fullnoise: Haha, sounds like it is a never ending job! What Brands that Mcleods Accessories distribute around Australia do you personally look after?

Ballinger: I look after all aspects of Fly, from Racing Apparel, helmets, boots and any other line that Fly have available, I also look after Alias MX and JT Apparel, Dragon goggles and eye wear, Astrix knee braces and FMF products and a couple of new things as well that are coming, so watch this space!

Fullnoise: Take us back to how it all began for you, how did you get in to the motorcycling industry, I now you are an Adelaide boy like myself, how did you end up working at Mcleods national office in Queensland?

Ballinger: Yes I'm an Adelaide boy originally. I sort of tripped over it, my Father was in the motorcycle industry, so I guess I was born in to it. I have a long industry in wholesale.

I moved out of Adelaide in mid 2000 to take up a job with Mcleods in Melbourne as an account manager, then moved up to Brisbane 18 months later at the end of 2001 spending my days on the road as an account manager up here. About six and a half years ago I moved in to this role and it has been flat out ever since.

Fullnoise: On A personal level, what do you do outside of your job to keep yourself entertained?

Ballinger: I try to ride, not really successfully at times, I tend to fall on my head to often! But that is fine I know someone who can get me some cheap riding gear (Laughs). Its funny I spend all of my time around motorbikes and around all the new riding gear and apparel as it comes out.

I have just finished ordering all the 2014 gear and it is all about to roll in. I spend a lot of time getting to play with new motocross gear, but barley get the time to ride myself.

I also have a young family now, so I also enjoy spending as much time with them as possible. I do a little road cycling to clear my mind and try to keep my sanity and try to keep the guts off (Laughs)



Fullnoise: Did you do much riding or racing when you were younger?

Ballinger: No, I was always around the sport but did not ride much, I really did not start riding motocross until 95, 96. I rode quite a lot until I blew my knee out a few years ago. When you wake up from a knee reco and have a six month pregnent wife sitting there, you sort of think to yourself WOW.

It certainly does not take my time up as much personally now, I still spent plenty of time at the track, but more so for work.

Fullnoise: The one thing I have to ask, you said you have the new 2014 riding gear about to come out, do you still as excited now when the new designs and colour ways come out as you did when you first started doing the job or when you first got involved with the sport?

Ballinger: Dude I am like a kid in a candy store when I see the new gear for the first time. It is still awesome, It really is.

When all of the files come through with images of the new gear, with all the new graphics, it just comes through on line-art, and we spend huge amounts of money ordering products off, of sketches pretty much.

That is exciting, but then when our first samples roll through, it gets exciting all over again.

It is a hard thing to do though, we ordered our 2014 Fly apparel for example in November of 2012. It is a hard deal to forecast how much we will sell from that far out, from ordering the gear in November 2012 until the gear hitting the show room floors in August of this year it is a big old gap.

So when the samples roll up and they look as good as they do for 2014, it is exciting for sure.

Note: As mentioned at the top of the interview, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the new M2R helmet designs which have since hit the market and also the new 2014 Fly Race Wear which will hit the shops later this year, the 2014 gear looks trick especially a hot looking mainly Blue and Orange set that reminded me of my child hood and spending days playing with Hot Wheels cars!

Check out the video mid way through this interview for a look at the 2014 Fly Apparel line up.

Top Image: Damien hard at work at the Conondale round of the MX Nationals getting roll-offs ready for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team riders.

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