Thor's Hylton Beattie Interview

As one of the most familiar faces and well-respected names in the supercross and motocross pits, Hylton Beattie has come a long way since his days of riding Baja. The South African native got his start as one of the top off-road competitors in the country, winning four national titles for KTM. Thanks to his success overseas, KTM brought Beattie to America to compete in the world’s most notorious desert races of the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.

After making a permanent move to the U.S. in 1991, Beattie started his work within the industry, joining FMF. At the time, FMF was distributed by Parts Unlimited, putting Beattie in regular contact with the Fox family, the creators of Parts Unlimited. After developing a strong relationship with Jeff Fox, an experienced Beattie made the move to Parts Unlimited in 1999 and now enters his 10th year with the company.

Hylton Beattie (right) serves as the Global Motorsports Director for Parts Unlimited, overseeing the company’s racing sponsorships throughout the world.

(Courtesy Kinney Jones)

Hylton, what exactly your position is at Parts Unlimited and what does it entail?

Basically I deal with anything related to motorsports. I am involved in negotiations with riders, promoters, and developing the logistics of our involvement at each and every event. I help figure out what we are going to do hospitality-wise and if there is anything different in regards to added promotions we may want to do. Really anything that commits to the philosophy that We Support the Sport®. I am also involved in Parts Europe and its sponsorship of the World Motocross Championship and Moto GP. My official title is Global Motorsports Director so anything that falls under that umbrella worldwide is handled by myself.

For those who may not know, what exactly is Parts Unlimited?

Parts Unlimited is basically the biggest distribution business in the powersports industry. It specializes in the delivery of aftermarket powersports products. The company is the world leader in this business.

Chad Reed is one of several Thor/Parts Unlimited riders that helps showcase each company’s dedication to the sport.

(Courtesy Kinney Jones)

What prompted you to join the Parts Unlimited family?

I saw Parts Unlimited as a company that was heavily involved in motorsports through their We Support the Sport® philosophy. I liked what they were doing within the sport and it basically lent to what my passion was in motorsports. It was stuff I had done before with FMF and when the Parts program came my way, I saw a bright future for the whole organization from Jeff Fox to Fred Fox and everybody we had worked with. It was like one big family and I thought I’d fit in well. It’s a great company to work for with the passion they have for motorsports and the aftermarket parts distribution industry.

Parts Unlimited’s involvement within the sport is unmatched. What helps the company stand out?

I think the main reason is from Jeff Fox and Fred Fox. They have had a passion for motorcycle racing and racing in general for a long time. Jeff’s uncle and Fred’s brother Stan was a top Indy Car guy so I think the Fox family as a whole had a passion for motorsports. They basically linked their business to that passion and ran with it, which worked really well for the company. Every motorcycle dealer out there shares that same passion otherwise they probably wouldn’t be in business.

Thor and Parts Unlimited’s presence at the races is unmatched, highlighted by five-star hospitality areas like this for Part’s dealer network.

(Courtesy Kinney Jones)

What role does Thor play in the Parts Unlimited family?

Thor is a company that Parts bought that has become what we call a house brand.  Thor has been a great brand for the entire motorcycle market. By purchasing Thor, it helped Parts Unlimited come full circle in their business model. Thor had already established itself into a prominent name and Parts Unlimited has helped push that presence into a household name within the off-road motorcycle community.

The Thor/Parts Unlimited team has some of the series’ top riders (Reed, Villopoto) and the sport’s most successful team (Pro Circuit Kawasaki). How important is it for the company to have such a strong presence on the racetrack?

I think from a point of view of achieving brand recognition and getting your product to be the number one product out there, you not only need to have the top riders, but you also need top riders that genuinely want to wear that product. For Parts Unlimited they created that opportunity where the riders really like the product by handpicking designers to help bring Thor where it is today. If you make the product desirable to everybody out there, you help customers on the retail side commit to saying that they want to wear Thor. For those fans to come to the track on the weekend and see the Thor signage all around as well as on the top riders is really important because it proves to the people that will purchase it that Thor is basically at the top of its game.

Along with Reed, Ryan Villopoto’s success in 2009 has helped showcase Thor’s presence as a premier gear brand, prompting fans all over the world to want to wear the product.

(Courtesy Kinney Jones)

The Parts Unlimited slogan is We Support the Sport®. Please explain in what ways the company lives up to that.

Well, We Support the Sport® is more than a slogan. It is taken seriously within the company and it has been proven over the years. I feel that there is so much motorsports out there and Parts has taken it upon themselves to be involved in every form of national motorcycle racing. We sponsor every single national series linked to motorcycle racing. Not only in the U.S., but in Europe as well. That is what Parts has done to fulfill the philosophy. The main concept behind that is not only do we support the sport, but we involve our entire dealer network within the sport by enabling all the dealers to come to the events and get involved by coming with Parts Unlimited. This is done through our showcase programs at each event in which the dealer gets tickets as well as five-star hospitality at the event.

About Parts Unlimited
Parts Unlimited is the world's largest distributor of aftermarket accessories in the powersports industry and is owned by LeMans Corporation headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Parts Unlimited sells to over 12,000 dealerships world wide and continues to expand its market penetration with its sister companies, Parts Canada, Parts Europe and Drag Specialties.

Parts Unlimited continues to promote racing through its campaign WE SUPPORT THE SPORT®, helping to drive consumers to dealerships, while entertaining its dealers through hospitalities at the events it sponsors.

About Thor Motocross
Thor is one of the originators of motocross apparel. When Torsten Hallman made his first U.S trip to race and promote motocross in 1966, he inadvertently started to develop Thor riding gear. Thor is a hardcore, grass roots company that understands what it takes to reach the top and more importantly, how to stay there. It is one of a few companies with over 40 years experience in the motocross marketplace.

Thor, a house brand company for Parts Unlimited, combines design and marketing with superior distribution to reach it's thousands of dealers and consumers priding ourselves on key selling features like quality, strength and performance. Thor is more than a brand. It is a lifestyle.