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Memory Pilot looks to bring P&A manufacturing back to the US

Published July 17, 2019

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Erik Saunders combined a love of bike components with a desire to manufacture domestically to create a company as concerned about the way it does business as the products themselves.

Memory Pilot began in January and currently offers mountain bike fenders and compression socks. While the socks are manufactured by a Korean vendor, the fenders are made in Santa Barbara, California, with Saunders promising prompt fulfillment, customizing options, fair pricing and purchasing latitude for dealers. 

“The really big hole and the really big gap in the industry is finding companies who can produce products locally and offer the kinds of terms that the industry needs to have to operate: easy to deal with, fast turn-around times and correct pricing for the market that allows the proper margins for everyone,” he said. 

Operating efficiently is important to Saunders, 45, who worked 10 years as VP Components’ U.S. office manager. He handled product development, engineering and business development for North America, OEM and aftermarket for VP. Before that, he worked for Time Sport. The experience allows Saunders to understand the challenges faced by the independent bike dealer, he said.

The Memory Pilot Local MTB Fender, made with U.S.-sourced high-density polyethylene resin, is sold to retailers for $7.50 and priced at $15 with no minimum-order requirement and immediate shipping. “It’s something that someone in the business is really going to feel,” Saunders said. “You need to be lean. With a fender, how special can you get with a die-cut fender? But in the end, that’s a business play.”

For custom fenders, the minimum is 24, including mixed artwork and colors, with a two-week turnaround.

The focus is independent bike dealers, with also an interest in OEM-level manufacturing.  “The IBD sales channel is the most important channel. It’s important to be at the right retailers who are a part of the scene,” said Saunders, a former road racer who said Memory Pilot means “finding that space when you’re completely in the zone.”

He said if he was at 100 dealers by the end of the year, “I would be beyond happy,” and added success is about people and connections. 

“That’s how we’ll make the brand relevant,” Saunders said. 

The sales rep team Turbo Sports represents Memory Pilot in the Pacific Northwest, and Saunders said he’ll eventually add reps in other regions.

The Wattstyle socks feature a light compression, with Saunders explaining many brands are too tight where they shouldn’t be. “We have some areas of different thicknesses and weaves to give compression where you want but also to lighten the sock up and make it so it’s not binding. When people put it on, they get it right away.”

The socks are just the beginning of Memory Pilot’s softgood lineup. A “technical top system” for off-road cyclists is in the works as is an on-bike tool storage system but “not just another seatpack.” 

While not necessarily driven to reach short- and long-term sales goals, Saunders sees Memory Pilot eventually carving its own niche.

“My goals are tied to being useful to the bike industry. If we’re offering and giving something that people need, if they dig on it, they’ll give us money, and we’ll be financially successful.” 

More information:

A version of this story appeared in the July 1 issue of BRAIN. 

Erik Saunders

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