From industry lifers to ex-pro racers to custom bike builders and everything in between, there are hundreds of compelling stories to be told by (and about) Tucker and MAG employees. Each month in the “Tucker Team Spotlight Series” we showcase a different employee and share his or her story about living the powersports life.
In this latest installment, we learn more about Tucker Hard Parts Sourcing Manager, Steve Mayes. Like many involved in this industry, Steve lives and breathes motorcycles; from growing up riding motocross, to racing grand prix bikes, working at a dealership, to sourcing new and exciting products, Steve represents Tucker and its brands wherever he goes. From his very first bike in 1978 to his latest ride, he continues to grow as an enthusiast. Learn more about Steve Mayes in this Tucker Team Employee Spotlight.
Tucker Powersports: Steve, thanks for being our second Employee Spotlight. Tell us about yourself, such as where you grew up and how you got involved with powersports.
Steve Mayes: Being an ex-racer, I’d prefer to say I’m the ‘next Employee Spotlight,’ not the second one (laughs). We never like to accept second place. I’m originally from Southern California, and I grew up surfing and riding motorcycles with my older brothers. I fell in love with motorcycles at the age of eight because of a 1978 Suzuki JR-50 (I am still trying to find a good example of that bike to add to my collection). My first job in this industry was at a motorcycle salvage yard as a parts manager. I learned so much about the industry there because we sold new parts from distributors and used parts from the bikes we bought. Working at the dealer level allows you to build relationships with all the distributors and your retail customers. It was definitely a great experience.
TP: Your first passion is motocross, but you also enjoy road racing. How did you make the jump from dirt to the pavement? Do you think your skills in one discipline help you with the other?
SM: While I was racing motocross, a good friend encouraged me to try road racing. I think actually because of my small stature. It was a natural progression for me because racing on the dirt allows you to feel comfortable on the pavement when the bike starts sliding around underneath you. I definitely had more success as a road racer than motocross.
TP: Tell us about your role as Tucker Hard Parts Sourcing Manager. What does your job entail and what’s your primary focus?
SM: I joined Tucker mid-2012 and genuinely love what I do. Finding new, exciting parts for our own brands and developing great relationships with our vendors is rewarding. I enjoy helping our brand managers with their portfolios and watching a new idea for a part become a reality and sold into the market.
TP: You started your career in powersports on the dealership side, then moved to the brand and distribution side of the business before coming to work at Tucker in 2012. Has all that experience helped get you to where you’re at now with Tucker?
SM: Absolutely! Like most careers, it’s a progression. Learning part fitments and every model of bike available in the US at the salvage yard helped me understand what type of bikes are popular, what parts break frequently or need to be replaced, what trends are popular, and building relationships with others in the industry.
TP: Being tasked with finding the latest and greatest motorcycle parts and accessories sounds intimidating, while at the same time rewarding. Is there a product that stands out as something you’re proud to have discovered and brought to market for Tucker?
SM: They all have their rewards as long as we can supply a great product at a great price that allows the customer to be able to enjoy their ride more. That’s what is truly rewarding. When I see one of our products at a dealership, or on a customer’s bike, it’s an honor that I had a little role in making that happen.
“I dig the fact that there are so many passionate people here and I am not alone with my motorcycle sickness.”
TP: What’s a product that, in your opinion, stands out as a game changer, that’s made a significant impact on powersports during your 25 years in the industry?
SM: On the hard parts side of the industry I’d have to say the advance in techniques used by the manufacturers has made the processes so much more efficient and has allowed some ‘trick’ parts to be available to the average rider. However, in all honesty, the biggest game changer in our industry has been the improvements in safety equipment available to riders. In my opinion, this is the most important game changer in our entire industry. Helmets and riding gear have improved so much over the years that it’s helped our passion to be “not as dangerous” in the eyes of the general public. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but the opinion is much better than it was in the past. These improvements will help bring in new riders that our industry desperately needs.
TP: What’s your favorite thing about being part of the Tucker Team?
SM: The very first time I visited Tucker during my interview, I noticed how many true enthusiasts worked here. I knew I would fit in the very first day I started. I dig the fact that there are so many passionate people here and I am not alone with my motorcycle sickness.
TP: Name a riding experience that stands out as one of those epic moments you’ll never forget.
SM: My favorite moments are always seeing ‘the lightbulb turn on’ when I’m teaching a new rider to ride. I can see the enthusiasm building within them, and I know I just helped make a future motorcyclist.
TP: Favorite motorcycle in your garage right now, and why?
SM: Come on! That’s an impossible question to answer if you have multiple motorcycles (laughs). You need to love them all. Every bike has its own allure, from the racing pedigree of the TZ-250 to the cuteness of the NSR-50, to the outright acceleration of the ZX-10R, they are all my favorites.
TP: We heard from a co-worker you’ve recently taken up chasing land speed records and have already reached 199.7 mph. How did the idea for that come about?
SM: Fortunately, Rich Halverson mentored me with this type of racing. My past road racing experience has helped a lot with being comfortable at speed, but Rich’s drag racing experience has helped me with my launches off the start. Road Racing a TZ-250 grand-prix bike is a little different than launching a leaned-on ZX-14 down a standing mile.
“It’s amazing the changes in your life a simple little JR-50 can make.”
TP: What’s on your powersports bucket list?
SM: I always want to continue to learn new aspects of our industry and help our brands be successful, I want to continue to teach new riders the joy that motorcycles bring, and I want to continue to add more motorcycles to my collection!
TP: Thanks for sharing your story, Steve. Any last words or words of encouragement about living the powersports life you’d like to share?
SM: Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know, you may find that you are very good at it. It’s amazing the changes in your life a simple little JR-50 can make. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for that beautiful little bike.
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