Master communicator, Matson Breakey, shares growing up in California’s various cultures; car culture in Japan; MetalCloak’s history, and aspirations as a father of youngsters in his 50’s. It’s a great listen.
5:07 – You think back and go, wow, I’m still alive
8:45 – I learned early the value of communication and communication skills
17:37 – it’s easy to say you care, it’s harder to actually demonstrate that you care
26:46 – my goal in life was to become a starving artist
34:17 – there was a general sense of being self-oriented, it was a survival mechanism
51:06 – I had this bright idea that I needed to be more professional
57:09 – by hour five there was too much beer
1:08:43 – we got so flamed because it was ugly, so we listened and responded
1:30:45 – Today we live in a world where ’70s is like the new ’50s
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.
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[00:00:06.370] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.
[00:00:53.790] - Matson Breakey
Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four wheels or two? Maxxis tires are the choice of champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.
[00:01:20.290] - Big Rich Klein
Have you seen 4low magazine yet? 4low Magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, 4Low is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription today.
[00:01:47.230] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Matson Breakey. Matson is the co founder of Metal Cloak. He was a graphic designer. He's had a couple of different businesses of his own. And we're going to talk about all of that with Matson and Matson. It's great to have you on.
[00:02:08.940] - Matson Breakey
Well, it's great to be on here. I feel like we have Conversations with Big Rich all the time now. It's finally recorded.
[00:02:14.730] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, exactly. I mean, we sat and talked for about ten minutes before we actually got started.
[00:02:22.430] - Matson Breakey
You know what? I make the mistakes sometimes, and some of my best material happens in the pre chat.
[00:02:27.590] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I always have to be careful when I hit the record button. I do it now when the phone is ringing because I've gone sometimes ten or 15 minutes and then realized I didn't hit the record button.
[00:02:41.450] - Matson Breakey
So you just recorded me going to the bathroom then while we're talking?
[00:02:44.520] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, actually I did. But that part will not be in the podcast. Us talking about it will be. So anyway, Matson it's always good to hear your voice. So let's get started right off. And where were you born and raised?
[00:03:03.830] - Matson Breakey
Right here in Sacramento? Actually, I was born in Sacramento. I'm a creature of travel, though. My parents divorced when I was young. So one actually went north, the other one went south. So my mom moved down to La. And my dad moved from Sacramento to Reading and then Redding to wake up. So I lived and I would go back and forth. Usually it would be whoever kicked me out, kicked me out because I was acting up or doing something and ended up in the other side of the state. So I grew up on the streets of La. Walking Hollywood boulevard when I was eight years old to go from where we lived to where my mom worked at a restaurant, to having fun on many bikes in Yreka And so I'm just a weird, strange creature, mix of the openness, but loving the city life, too.
[00:03:58.310] - Big Rich Klein
I kind of had the same thing growing up. I grew up just south of San Francisco and started right. We started riding our bikes up at a young age and hanging out in San Francisco golden gate park all around there. My mom worked just off parnassus at UC medical center, which is right there at the park. And back then, the city was not dangerous, right. There was gang stuff going on, but it was not like the weird stuff that happens in cities nowadays. But then again, I lived in suburbia, but every weekend we spent either water skiing, snow skiing, or backpacking.
[00:04:42.170] - Matson Breakey
[00:04:42.960] - Big Rich Klein
So it's the same thing. Got a chance to experience both.
[00:04:47.280] - Matson Breakey
Well, that's the beauty of California, too. Even here in Sacramento, you're 2 hours from anything great, right?
[00:04:53.200] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, absolutely. In fact, when I was growing up, I got to surf, snow ski, and water ski all in the same day.
[00:05:02.930] - Matson Breakey
Wow, that had been exciting.
[00:05:06.080] - Big Rich Klein
That was fun.
[00:05:07.590] - Matson Breakey
Well, La. Was fun. La. Has always been tough, but even to this day when I walk, I just inadvertently brushed my hand against my wallet because that's what you learn how to do, and you always want to make sure you didn't have a pickpocket or anything. Right. Even as a kid. Right. And we did a lot of crazy stuff. And I constantly telling people stories about some of the antics we had in La. You think back and go, wow, I'm still alive. That's amazing. But just because nobody turn around and pull the gun on me and killed me today, you might have that a little bit different. Instead of yelling at you, they might pull out a gun, but it was a good time to be alive.
[00:05:46.780] - Big Rich Klein
So where did you spend most of your time then? La. Or Eureka?
[00:05:56.890] - Matson Breakey
I spent a year in Eureka. I spent a year in reading. And I'd say that to answer your question. Probably more time was spent in La. Than any place because it was more consistent. But I lived in if anybody's familiar with La. I lived in Hollywood central, I lived in north Hollywood, I live in studio city, I lived in Echo Park, I lived in Silver Lake, and we lived in Silver Lake. It was not the revitalized bastion of celebrities that it is now. Even though the guy that lived across behind us on the other side of the fence played the reporter on the 1970s incredible Hulk series. Oh, really? I think I was there. I was like, what, maybe 1011 years old and lived there. I love hanging out in the backyard and just talking across the fence with them. I think when I was 13, we finally moved back and La was just my stopping grounds. And it was great in La. Because they had I don't know what it is now, but parking passes or parking passes. Bus passes were only like $4 back then for a student bus pass. We had a bus pass as a kid and with a little bit of freedom, you can go anywhere you wanted in La.
[00:07:10.700] - Matson Breakey
Right. And I actually went to school in north Hollywood, but I lived in silver Lake, which is completely at the other end of sunset. So you would hop by, get them and bus about 05:00 A.m. And about an hour and a half later be at school. But it was a great school and that's just we lived where we could live. We lived where we could afford places. That was the hardest part about being in La. And you wanted to rent a place wherever mom could find a place and get a lease and afford it. That was great. She worked three jobs to make it all work and that was awesome that she did that. Outside of that, every once I get kicked out and go live with my dad. And I lived in Sacramento. I think I did. Let's see if I break it down. I did first grade in Sacramento, second and third grade, second grade in La. Part of third grade in La. Part of third grade in reading, fourth grade in Waurika, fifth grade in Sacramento, 6th grade in La. 7th and 8th grade in La. What part of 8th grade moved here?
[00:08:10.620] - Matson Breakey
I did 8th through 8th grade on I was just in Sacramento. So there's the flow of life.
[00:08:18.700] - Big Rich Klein
So do you think it helped you with what you do nowadays, which most of what you do is interaction with people. You really are a people person from what I've seen. And do you think that helped? Bouncing around and going to different schools and having to deal with that?
[00:08:45.310] - Matson Breakey
It probably did. I learned early on the value of communication and communication skills. And I think there are many things that my parents taught me. Communication skills was probably on the top of that, right. Ability to talk to people. Because we can all talk to people, but we don't necessarily know how to communicate. And to me there's a difference. I learned that early on was just the value of communication with people. And when you are in La, I think La taught me that more than any places. Like Wyureka had so much freedom in Wyata that I just got in trouble and did stupid stuff. Getting arrested in fourth grade. Getting arrested for stealing a tricks bar from the thrifty store. Right. Just the type of stuff we did in Wire because of the freedom, was insane. La. I had to be had my guard on all the time. And so you learned quickly how to deal with people. I remember there was an incident when I was about 7th grade, so 7th grade, we were temporarily living we had lost the place we were living in. We were temporarily shacked up with some friends that were right off of they live near Hollywood Boulevard.
[00:10:04.660] - Matson Breakey
I had to get up real early, five, five thirty a. M. To go to school. So I'm walking along and this girl who's about 15 ish comes up to me and starts talking. And she's the whole song and dance story about traveling here from Texas and it's good to meet people and having that conversation with her. And something started trickling in the back of my mind. It was quite right. A few minutes later, a car pulls up. This car, it's an old beat up. Back then it was probably like a K car or something. And the guy reaches in and reached through and says, hey, how do you get to the freeway? Just straight up there. It was a straight shot, all you had to do. And he didn't quite get my instructions. A straight shot. Again, I'm 7th grade. What's that? 1112 years old, and I'm just trying to give him directions. He didn't quite understand it. He said, oh, you would just want to show me. I said, no, the girl yes, the girl got in the car and tried to entice me, and I said, no, I'm fine, and just kept going.
[00:11:04.290] - Matson Breakey
My 6th sense told me that it was a bad thing. It wasn't until years later I actually thought the girl might have been in trouble. It wasn't until years later I actually realized the girl was part of the set up. Right. And that stuff happens all the time when you're in La. And this is even back then, we're talking early 80s, but the understanding and learning about people and learning about communication and recognizing the quality of communication between people was just something that I had been taught even at a young age. I just saw that for what it was, a potential set up, and it helped me get through it. But that same ability to communicate and understand somebody in that kind of situation, I think, applied for me when it came to just making friends, just deciding who I wanted to be friends with. Now I do regret all these years of going all those I think back to it, and I'm terribly keeping in touch with people, even to this day. I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people. Right. Even some of our customers will say, you haven't called me in years.
[00:12:08.730] - Matson Breakey
I just don't keep in touch with people.
[00:12:10.330] - Big Rich Klein
You mean returning calls?
[00:12:12.090] - Matson Breakey
Yes, exactly. You're familiar with it? All these years and all the friends I had and all the different locations that I made because you had to you went into a location, you made friends. I was never the most popular kid in school. Right. I was probably one of the smarter kids in the class, but I would say I wasn't smart. I was just harder working. So in every school had a different variable. You learned quickly. But in Puerto Rico was all about kickball and who was good at kickball. In Sacramento was all about four square. Who was good at four square. You learn quickly what the variables were in the different schools to try to survive. So I think it was more of a survival instinct that got me into knowing how to understand, how to communicate people and therefore how to get people onto my side that later translated into just me and joining people. I truly, truly enjoy being around people. I truly enjoy learning about people. I truly enjoy the story. It's just like you of being able to just hang out and listen and understand and learn a few people. And if it translates into being able to sell products or to do different companies over the years, it's just been a byproduct.
[00:13:33.350] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Communication is vital in a lot of industries. And I think it's really important in the off road industry because while digital seems to be the way everybody wants to market. And so much of our products in our industry are sold via the Internet. It's still that one on one. Person to person. At events. At club meetings. Whatever it happens to be things like Easter. Jeep Safari or Jeep Jamboree or any of these other things that happen. That personal contact. Person to person is vital in our industry.
[00:14:21.770] - Matson Breakey
It is. It's an interesting factor. When we first came in this industry 13 years ago, I was floored by how bad the customer service was. And I appreciate all of those that were out there, but the customer service was horrific. I don't know where that stems from. I don't know why it was. I don't think it was because they were bad business people in these companies. I just think that they just somehow thought with the admin and the Internet and mail order or whatever else, they just didn't have good customer service. One of the first things we did was just focus on having great customer service because I'd come from other industries and other worlds where you have to have customer service or you don't survive. Right? And with the advent of that just pushing on customer service, there was also a great book that came out right around that same time. And I'm going to mess with the title, but it was something like Searching for Happiness and it was by Tony Sey and Tony Shay. He's the late Tony Shay, but he was the co founder and CEO of Zappos, which was a company that got sold to Amazon.
[00:15:31.290] - Matson Breakey
But he wrote the book as kind of his autobiography, as well as his philosophy about customer service and how they built Zappos. And Zappos just had an incredible credible focus, and what it did for me was reinforced what my concepts were on customer service, that this can be valuable. We take care of people to this day. In the early days, I had to call every customer just to make sure that they understood what they were buying and understood what they wanted. And if that translated into, wow, thank you so much for the call, the personal call. And then that became something that to this day we do. We have one employee whose only job it is to call everybody who's placed an online order if we haven't touched the customer and talk to the customer over the phone. He calls every customer and confirms with them what their order is, says thank you, and just takes care of them and make sure that any modifications or changes needed or maybe the person didn't order the right thing they need for the rig. Sometimes it'd be complicated, answer any questions, that sort of thing. It was a little simple thing we did.
[00:16:32.660] - Matson Breakey
In fact, I learned that from a guy named Dale Carlson. And anybody who's from this region knows that name because Daryl Carlson was the founder of Sleep Train, which is now purchased and is now part of the massive company whose name mattress Firm, which I understand what they're trying to say there, but I think that's the worst name of any company ever, especially if you're not into firm mattresses. Why would you go there? Right. Somehow they absorbed it. They decided Sleep Training was not their name, and they kept dale Carlson used to do that. In the early days of the company, if you bought a mattress from him, you got a call from him, you just bought it from one of sales people. I remember my dad getting a call in the 80s from Dale Carlson himself saying, hey, I just want to make sure how was your experience? Wanted to touch base and get everything taken care of for you. Where our guys? Good. You get a good price. And that stuck with me. It's one of those little touches that you can do for customers. It just makes them believe, wow, okay. I mean, it shows.
[00:17:37.110] - Matson Breakey
It's easy to say you care. It's harder to actually demonstrate that you care.
[00:17:41.150] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:41.500] - Matson Breakey
And what we try to do every day is demonstrate that we care.
[00:17:45.850] - Big Rich Klein
So, jumping around, you did mention that your grades obviously were pretty good. You said you were a better student, but probably just because you worked harder. Elaborate on that.
[00:18:00.580] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, exactly. I've always felt that I wasn't the smartest guy in the room, but I'll be the hardest guy in the room. I will work at 04:00 A.m. To get the job done, and you may be able to get it done quicker than me. But even last night, I went to bed at ten, woke up at three and worked until about six, got the kids ready for school and came in. So I've always tried to be that guy that I will work a little bit harder, I'll push the extra mile. In my early days, young days, I'll do three or four days of no sleep just to get a project done, if that's what it takes, and hopefully I learn a thing or two along the way and can become a little bit smarter about it. But I've never tried to be and I'll never claim to be the smartest guy in the room.
[00:18:45.190] - Big Rich Klein
I never want to be the smartest guy in the room and the reason being is that if I'm the smartest guy in the room, I'm not going to learn anything.
[00:18:53.950] - Matson Breakey
[00:18:54.780] - Big Rich Klein
Even at my age now, I want to surround myself with people I can learn from.
[00:19:01.750] - Matson Breakey
Absolutely. It's an interesting world when I over the years, translated and met some people that were truly, truly brilliant people and just trying to absorb as much as you can from them and I've met a few people who were very smart. You have two types of people, right? You have people that are very smart and they just demonstrate it by doing things. Any guys that are very smart who have to proclaim to you that they're very smart. I'm smart, I'm a smart guy, look at me, I'm smart. It's just like people with money too. You're the kind of people that will have money and you will never know. They're just the nicest people in the world. And I've met billionaires that are that way and there's one that we're actually dealing with on some property issue, some property we're looking to buy. He's very wealthy man, but he's the type that lets everybody know it. He goes to mecom auctions and buys a car for a million dollars and then drives it around so you know that he bought this car for a million dollars and he's got money and he can afford to do it.
[00:20:09.240] - Matson Breakey
So you try to surround yourself with the people that are humble and are intelligent and can teach you a thing or two and also, except for path for what you want to be.
[00:20:20.830] - Big Rich Klein
I believe that people you can't ever say that anything that when you make a proclamation like this that it's 100% or it's 80% of the people, but a good majority of the people that I've met in my life that tell you how wealthy they are by either flaunting it or just by their actions are their new money. And that means that maybe they didn't grow up with it. It didn't come naturally, they had to work really hard for it. And then there are others that, like you said, that you'd never know. I had a customer when I worked for Sears Automotive that the salesman would always like when the guy walked in, nobody ever wanted to deal with him because he had an envelope, one of those folding files type envelopes that had 15 different cars in it with all his paperwork and his warranties and that kind of stuff. But he would come in, and the guy was a multi multimillionaire. And this was back in the was obvious when you looked at his address where he was very wealthy, but you would have never known it by looking at him because he wore torn, dirty Levi's, beat up tennis shoes, an army jacket.
[00:21:59.690] - Big Rich Klein
But he drove really, the cars were all pristine, so he just didn't look like it looked like he worked for somebody that owned the cars. But when you talk to him, you'd never know it. And everybody would go, oh, my God, I don't want to deal with this guy. And I'm like when he decides that it's time to buy new tires or have work done. He's going to buy all the warranties, he's going to buy all the upgrades. You're not going to have to argue with him or convince him that he needs the road hazard warranty and all the add ons. Whatever you tell them it's going to cost. He's going to write that check.
[00:22:43.430] - Matson Breakey
Right. And you've got guys like that, and you've also got guys that wealth or money for them is just a means for them to help others, right? A means for it, whether they were new money or old. You said more and more today, too. I think it's more and more prominent today that people have acquired wealth and ways that maybe were quick, maybe they didn't, toil over a business for 50 years to try to finally have money in their pocket. Because some of those guys are some of those older guys. The old money. I would say old money. Like, there's a guy around here, he's the late Buzz. He's god rest of soul. He was a big prominent landowner in the region, right?
[00:23:32.760] - Big Rich Klein
Real estate developer.
[00:23:34.310] - Matson Breakey
Exactly. So back in the late 80s, early ninety s, I delivered pizzas. And for a short period of time, my psyche has always had three or four jobs, and so I worked in a graveyard shift at a Shell station, and I delivered pizzas for mountain bikes. And for a very short period of time, my first job delivering pizzas was Domino's, and I had delivered Buzz out. House was on my route, and I had delivered a few times to him. One, the fact that he was ordering Domino's, he's a billionaire land developer, which means you have a lot of land and you have a lot of money in your pocket, but he still lived a good life. The fact he was ordering Domino's for his kids or whatever they were doing was already a bottom of the barrel solution. But at the same time, he also tipped like nothing. Like it was the worst tipper. You didn't want the job because you tip for me, unfortunately, that was my impression. It wasn't until later that I actually met him in politics and learning more about him and got to know him really well, that understood what kind of person he really was.
[00:24:41.160] - Matson Breakey
But the only impression I had of this guy with all his wealth was that. But anyway, it comes down to there's so much about life and people that are interesting. So ultimately what I figured out was if you're willing to sit down and have a conversation with somebody and actually be there and listen to them, the people that you meet. I even find myself doing this sometimes and it's hard. And I used to do a lot of politics, which meant I did a lot of mixing events, and I had to do a lot of meeting and greeting of people you're talking to. The person who's all he's thinking about is the next person he's got to talk to, or the next thing he's got to do, he's not there, he's not present at the moment talking with you and having that conversation. He's already thinking three steps ahead about how he's going to wake his way over to the bar or glancing around and seeing the next person that he needs to go over and say hi to. Right. Those kind of people don't really communicate. They're not really there at the moment wondering and learning about you.
[00:25:42.250] - Matson Breakey
They're just there saying words that hopefully are socially acceptable and glad handing and then moving on.
[00:25:48.440] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I was going to say gladhanders.
[00:25:51.510] - Matson Breakey
Yes, exactly. So one of the things we've taught our guys here at Metal Cloak and we constantly, we actually do drills for this, we actually do regular training, is that with our sales team is understanding people and understanding how to build affinity with them and understanding how to find common interest. It's a basic little tenant here, and it's something I actually got from somebody else, another marketing guru. Our goal here is to turn strangers into friends and then turn those friends into customers. If we can do that, then we win because we have those customers for life. Because we take care of our friends, we can take care of our customers.
[00:26:32.970] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's a great philosophy. That's really good. So let's talk about how you got to where you are now. Okay, you went through school. Where did you go to high school? Was pretty much Sacramento.
[00:26:46.750] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, high school. I chose Maryland High School because they had the best art program at the time. That was when I was 8th grade. Going into 9th, I thought, oh, I wanted to be an artist. So I moved to Sacramento. And in La. My goal in life, my literal goal in life, was to become a starving artist. That was the coolest thing in the world you could be as a starving artist. So I'm going to be a starving artist. And we're talking early. Eighty s I moved here in 83, 84, and I go to high school. And I decided, well, I'm going to go to the best school in the region, in the district that has the best art teacher. And that's where I went soon figuring out that I didn't want to be a starving artist. I want to be somebody who made money with their art. So I decided I want to be an architect. That's what my goal was. By the time I graduated high school, I decided that I didn't want to be an architect. I just wanted to be the guy who was wealthy enough to pay the architect. Somehow sacramento changed me.
[00:27:41.400] - Matson Breakey
It is the environment of Sacramento State versus the environment of La. Sacramento is more business oriented. You got government seat here, so you got a different kind of overall culture here. And so my mind went from being creative to being, well, shoot, I can do business, I can do government, I can do all this kind of stuff, and that's kind of more where I started going towards. So graduated class of 88, but I graduated early and immediately moved to Arizona. My uncle had a business out there. There was a school, it's called De Frye. At the time was De Fry Institute of Technology. Now. It's known as De Frye University, right? It was my only goal. My goal wasn't to go to school, to get a degree or to go to college because I wanted to be an engineer or something grandiose like that. My goal was to get it done. I graduated high school as soon as I could got out of there. So I graduated, went, worked for a service station for three months, became the top salesperson at the service station, because it's the greatest thing in the world when you walk up to somebody who's got a car, and I don't care how beat up and old that car is, you walk in and say, wow, what year is this?
[00:28:50.150] - Matson Breakey
And they immediately want to talk about their car. It was just a great conversations about cars. And I could sell oil and air filters and windshield wipers and everything. So I went that. Did that for three months and then immediately moved to Arizona to start at Dubrid. Tried to finish the device three year program in one year by just upping my unit. I think the standard units there was like twelve units, and I was doing 20 units plus I was taking a challenge program where I started this little program where on a Friday I would go down and I would buy the book of one of the classes that I wanted to challenge. I would read that book every day between Friday and the following Friday, and then I would go down to the dean and rearrange it to take for that particular class, to take a challenge test on that course. So I'd read the book all the way through, whether it was production. Operations Management or other different courses and go and challenge it. Economics, challenge the course. And either you had to get a C or better to pass. Right? I wasn't trying to get straight.
[00:29:58.610] - Matson Breakey
I was just trying to get through this three year program in one year. So I did that for the first trimester. And the Brian program back then, it was trimesters, not semesters. He had three different segments within a given year.
[00:30:11.810] - Big Rich Klein
[00:30:12.750] - Matson Breakey
So I did that for the first trimester with my uncle's help and support. If it here, just here's an apartment living there, here's your cash in your pocket. Just go do this. All right, fine. And it worked out okay. I was about a 50 50 ratio on my challenge desk. Occasionally having arguments with deans because we don't get esoteric about business philosophy and stuff. But there were things that were directly out of the book that my answered correctly. But the argument with the professor of the class was, well, that's why you need to be in my class, because the book's wrong there. Okay? So nuances that made me not have the highest success rate, that kind of burned me out. So I did that. I did a regular trimester. The next trimester I did normal. I was trying to be a student, hanging out with everybody, just going out partying or whatever it is. And then I couldn't afford it from that because my parents were taking student loans. I was doing student loans. It was before they had federalized student loans. So it wasn't so easy to borrow money as it is today. And so we just ended up, after two semesters, I was out.
[00:31:20.920] - Matson Breakey
Want to go work for my uncle for a little while at a company called Blackbird, which anybody who was back involved in the Air Force back in the 80s would know. Blackbird. It was a company that sold black T shirts. And the T shirts were done by hand, but you would swear that they were all computer designed because of how we did the designs. And so it was a lot of point of ism on the shirts, lines, kind of computer graphics. But it was all done by hand. Worked for him for a couple of years, then ended up back in Sacramento and tried going back to school again. Did that a little bit. Didn't work out. So I went to Japan. Spent about two years in Japan. I just figured first I went there thinking, Well, I need a language. And back then I was a Japan on file. I came from the 80s where Japan was big, strong economic force in the world. So I went out there and did what I could and got there right around the time the bubble was bursting in Japan. That taught me a lot about dealing with people, about language, about interacting, because I had to learn the language.
[00:32:28.370] - Matson Breakey
But I was in Tokyo, so it's a lot easier to survive without the language, and did a little business there and worked a lot with Japanese business people and teaching them how to do things in a Western way. And after about two years there, got homesick and came back home and then just kept going and going.
[00:32:48.990] - Big Rich Klein
Let's get a little off topic here. Not off topic, but tell me your impressions of Japan back then. I have my impressions, but they came later because of going over there for Rock Crawls. But what was your basic impression of Japan?
[00:33:09.010] - Matson Breakey
One of the things I did as a failure in my youth was with these travels I was doing, I never did more. I didn't really travel, I didn't act like tourists. Right. I went to Japan. I figured, I'm young, I'll come back here if I actually want to ever do a tourist thing. So I spent most of my time in Tokyo. I did go out to Fuji once, Mount Fuji once, and because I didn't have a visa, every three months, I had to leave. Because you would literally leave the country, fly into another country for a couple of days, come back and renew your visa. It was that easy. Right. And so I would fly on the South Korea and stay in South Korea and come back. Now, I have some very high opinions about very strong opinions about South Korea in those days. We can talk about it in a second. But Japan for me was interesting because you always heard about them being group oriented and being oriented towards working towards the benefit of the country or the benefit of the company. Right. You hear about the Japanese CompanyMen, and being there specifically for the benefit of the company is first, then family, then self.
[00:34:17.950] - Matson Breakey
And I actually found that to be completely untrue. The reality is the Japanese people and I met a lot of great people, and this isn't true, but in general, there was a general sense of being selforiented. It was a survival mechanism. Because I was in Tokyo, which had 30 million people essentially living and working in 4 sq. Mi. If you look at the map of Tokyo and how small it is, 30 million people in 4 sq. Mi, it's pretty crazy to think about that much. Just the one area where my office was was an area called Ikibukaro. It's on a line, the train line, the main train line goes all around Tokyo, called the Amalope. And we had offices at our office in Gotenda and our office in Ikebukuro, nikki Bucharo had 2 million people going through that train station every single day. It was intense. So there's an old adage, an old story you could take and put a wallet down on the street corner and nobody will touch it. Right. It just shows. And the point of that little story is that it shows that the Japanese are very honest people and they won't do it.
[00:35:26.410] - Matson Breakey
My take on it was a little different and that was that it wasn't that they won't take it, it's that the potential of losing face is so strong that they would rather not take that risk. There was always stories about how there's very little crime and generally speaking, when somebody gets arrested for a shooting or that sort of thing, and they don't have guns, that might so somebody gets arrested for shooting, they have lifelong crime rate. Well the reality is if somebody gets arrested very easily because the police force is strong enough out there that they get them and they confess and then they go to jail or whatever happens to them. And it wasn't necessarily that they have no crime, it's just that the Yakuza crime network works so well to maintain the connections and the underground connections they need that they just don't have people getting caught. Right, right. And so it's a cynical point of view, but at that time when I was there, the bubble was bursting. Right. The 1980s bubble was bursting. And it's an economic I never really quite got back to that level of economic success that they had during that time.
[00:36:34.990] - Matson Breakey
They also weren't very entrepreneurial back then. That's changed dramatically. There was only like one or two big success stories at that time of somebody starting their own company and having success outside of the Sony's and the Hondas of the world. And now it's much different. So I'd say that the Japanese people today were completely different than those that I knew in the early ninety s. I will also say that again, the mistake I made staying in Tokyo is that you can live in Tokyo probably your entire life and never learn a single word of Japanese. You don't have to.
[00:37:11.360] - Big Rich Klein
[00:37:11.730] - Matson Breakey
Tokyo is so international. You have the three different languages, three different alphabets. You had hiragana or kafkana, wherever it was. You had romaji going on for letters, which Ramaji for our listeners is Roman letters, the ones we're familiar with, the standard alphabet spelling out Japanese words. So you didn't have to read. You could walk down the street, you'd see that this is Ikebukuro, and Ikibukaro was spelled out Ikea'karo. And you didn't have to read the Japanese symbols or the Harrison or Katta kano or the Kanji to know what that said. So you can survive. You walk into a restaurant, you walk into a McDonald's and you just point to the menu. You don't have to speak Japanese. There are pictures on all the menus, even a little hole in the wall restaurant. You can walk out and they had a display case on the outside. You just point to the thing you want in the display case.
[00:38:07.500] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that fiberglass food.
[00:38:09.970] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, exactly. So you didn't really need to ever learn in the language. I did the best I could to learn language and probably forgotten most of it, but it just felt like to me the Japanese culture of the time was going through a transition. And that transition also included this was an interesting side note. When I got there, they had just kind of gotten through over the hump of having, like, Volkswagen Bugs were a big deal there for about three or four years. I get there about 91, and that's just fading away. And I tried to capture that a little bit by doing some gray market sales. I had my dad come out here and buy a California Bug and ship it out there and sell it. But that was fading away. What was becoming big, and this was specifically from the youth of the time, was like, Catalina station wagons and the American station wagon. Big, massive, four door, sedan type cars because the kids were tired of living in this compact world, those compact space and all these small little cars. They wanted to show their big. They wanted to be expansive. They wanted to spread their wings.
[00:39:22.070] - Matson Breakey
And they did that by buying these cars that would barely fit down some of the roads. Oh, yeah, but they loved it. They had these rubber Japanese kids, 20 kids, piled into 1975 Catalina station wagon, and they're just having a great time. And I say fitting down the side of the road, because all the cars have those windshield, have the side mirrors that automatically fold in because you literally couldn't get the car down there without that. Right.
[00:39:51.730] - Big Rich Klein
That's one of the things that I noticed when we were there. And this was seven years ago, six, seven years ago, went over there for a We Rock event outside of Nara. And it was especially the countryside. The roads were so narrow. And I was like, how do they we had this little tiny car that me, Josh, England, and Shelley got into with our luggage. And I couldn't believe that, first of all, that the three of us could fit in there with luggage. When they brought the car out at the airport, I was like, yeah, okay, where's the handle to wind this thing up to go? It was crazy. But the semi trucks over there were small garbage trucks. Everything was just like miniaturized. And then I go to visit Naizumi, who we were working with over there, and still do, and he's got American muscle cars, and he's building Buggies and drift cars and all sorts of things, and it was like, that's really cool. I can't imagine driving those kinds of cars on those roads because they're so small. And then in Tokyo, man, you don't even need a car because the transportation there is so extensive public.
[00:41:33.110] - Matson Breakey
Yes. The only time you really do, you might take the taxis even to the state. The taxis there have a little button that opens the door for you automatically, right? The taxi driver pulls up, button, the back door opens up automatically. He doesn't have to get out. You hop in, you close the door, you go, you pay attention a little bit, because taxi drivers have been known to take guidance or foreigners on long trips that should have taken ten minutes. They ended up taking 30, which I've had a few of those, but for the most part, they're good people. The interesting thing about drifting you mentioned is when I was there, so a couple of little car stories. One, my girlfriend there, her brother was in a car club. He had an old Z, and I forget what model it was, but it was an old Z he built up, and he was in this car club that had a bunch of different cars. One guy actually had a Dodge Viper. There was an old Corvette there's, a bunch of different mixed cars. One day like, hey, you want to go? We're going to go to the racetrack?
[00:42:37.110] - Matson Breakey
Sure. Well, you go out there. Well, at that time, whether it's still true or not, I don't know. But at that time, car clubs could rent the Fuji Raceway. And so the car club had rented the Fuji Raceway, and they had it for a few hours, meaning the full use of the pits and everything, the entire raceway was closed down except for them driving their cars around the raceway. Something that wouldn't happen out here for liability and other reasons why too many lawyers involved. But out there, it was a fine thing to do. When we got there, there was a drag race going on from a private car club that was doing drag races. In fact, I remember seeing a Toyota Starlet, that Chevy engine and big slicks in the back. And if you're not familiar with Toyota Starlet, it's just a little, tiny, compact piece of shit that I had one of. But there they threw a little Chevy engineer or some V eight engine in it and Big Slicks and was dragging it down the strip. So car culture has always been big there. At the time, I remember watching TV and not really knowing what was watching until it translated years later.
[00:43:46.410] - Matson Breakey
They were talking about on TV about car clubs doing these races down these hills. And you saw it in Tokyo. It was faster, furious three Tokyo drift right where the big finale was actually drifting down this big hill. Well, that's where drifting got its start, because the goal wasn't how to drift. The goal was to go down these hills as fast as possible. And so these kids were taking these cars out to these hills and be going down them and learning that that's where they started learning about this concept of drifting around corners where you still got full power going and you're just manipulating the vehicle around the corner. So they started developing that. So drifting at that time, I was kind of fascinating because I saw the beginnings of it in there. About 91 and 93 start growing, expanding to the point that these were the big things I didn't pay attention to it for years, and all of a sudden drifting is this major ten years later, I think I finally noticed that drifting is this major international thing now. But it was just fascinating seeing how the car culture out there was so strong, because again, it was a way for them to escape the fact that they were still living in an apartment that was smaller than my current office here at motorclub.
[00:45:11.400] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. With maybe three generations.
[00:45:14.310] - Matson Breakey
[00:45:16.770] - Big Rich Klein
So then when you got back, what was your the job that you had when you were in japan?
[00:45:26.790] - Matson Breakey
So I went there originally thinking, I'm just going to teach English. And that was most foreigners go, it's easiest thing in the world to do, I'm going to go there. I happen to know somebody who was in Japan who had gone out there for similar reasons. I knew him from his mom, who knew my mom, and I was like, okay, sure. So I connected up with him. I showed up there within three weeks. I had very comfortable like, I had a gig teaching a couple of girls whose mom was fairly prominent. She was a westerner, but she was fairly prominent. So she had her Japanese husband was prominent, and she had her kids, but her kids were needing to learn English. And something about Japanese is that they all learn English in school, but they pretty much forget it by the time they need to use it. So the job of teaching English to the japanese was just reminding them what they had already learned. Right. So that was a very prominent client. I had another guy who actually taught at a school who got me as a gig as a substitute, and somebody else who had his own private school who had me doing some stuff.
[00:46:38.400] - Matson Breakey
So within a couple of weeks, I had a good, comfortable living doing that, but it turned out to be very boring. I didn't actually enjoy it, so I've known people that who have probably did it the right way. One of my best friends at the time went to Spain and taught English in Spain for a year only so that he had a job, so that he could go and travel Europe, and that's every moment he did, he traveled, and then he went back into the shop. I didn't think in those terms. I thought in terms of, let's try to establish and learn things and get into business and everything I could. So this is just a stepping stone. So after three weeks of doing this, I was bored. So I went and found another opportunity. And having basically a business with another guy where we essentially taught communication skills to Japanese people, we gave lectures to various companies. We had representatives from them come to our office. And I said this before, the bubble was bursting at the time, and as part of that bubble bursting, there was a whole period in the 80s were Japanese business, especially for large corporations.
[00:47:50.300] - Matson Breakey
If the Japanese business came to visit you for all purposes, you had a couch out to them. You had to learn how to accept their business card, learn how to do business their way. With the bubble bursting over there, there was this general sense that that's not going to happen anymore. Like they're not showing up with millions of dollars investment, they're not going to get treated the same way. They need to learn how to work in a Western way, how to shake hands, how to be more Western. And so that was what we did. We taught them how to be more Western in their communication, more Western in their human interactions. It was also a little bit of an English thing. They have things out there called English clubs where you basically go and you hang out at the club, and Westerners go there, as well as Japanese, and the Japanese just go there to practice their English. In fact, I met a young lady from China who lived in Japan, and she got the English clubs and just to practice, right. And so that was a very big part of it as they would come and they want to learn from Western or they want to practice their English, they want to learn more Western business techniques.
[00:49:02.690] - Matson Breakey
So we did that for a couple of years.
[00:49:04.720] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and then after you left that, you came back to Sac.
[00:49:09.610] - Matson Breakey
Yes, came back to Sacramento and Dillydata Lead and a bunch of little things for a while and then ended up as a financial planner. I've always been fascinated by the stock market, always been into that. So I thought, I'm going to try my hand being a financial planner and did that for a couple of years, which again, communication skills being a big part of that. Ultimately there's a lot of cold calling. There was a lot of sitting down at my desk every day and everything from picking up the phone book and calling cold calling addresses right around my neighborhood to going to shows and trade shows and events and encouraging and talking to people about how to set up their financial plans. I used to do flyers on local colleges just to help college students. It was totally free because they didn't have any money to invest. And when you're a financial planning, for the most part are making all your income from commissions on life insurance and commissions on mutual funds that you sell and all of that. But I would go to help college students just figure out their finances. I would put flyers out and say, hey, just sit down and have guys show up with boxes of receipts and trying to organize their financial life.
[00:50:25.390] - Matson Breakey
It was just a way of helping, but also knowing that maybe sometimes. So I did that for a couple of years. Again, going after a little while, not being as interested and had other things going on like I always do. I've always been involved in nonprofits, so I think at the same time I was doing that, I was also the executive director of a psychiatric watchdog group that was here in Sacramento called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. And so I spent half my time trying to make a living as a financial planner and the other half of the time spending my money ahead of the.
[00:51:01.350] - Big Rich Klein
What was the name? Was that the madsonian group, then?
[00:51:06.450] - Matson Breakey
So Madsonian group came later. I've always been somewhat self employed. I spent more time in my life being self employed than other employed, and so I've always done business center. Mats and Breaking Associates filed my schedule C's, whether it was just doing some work for somebody, I've done door to door sales for water companies, I've done financial planning, you name it. I would design flyers. I had a little Mac Classic and my stepfather had a type setting business, one of the oldest in Sacramento. I learned early on how to lay out and design flyers and brochures. And I already had a neck for doing the layout and writing copy, so I would do that on the side for people and do little brochures and newsletters. So I always had my own little business cards. Mats and Breaking Associates was kind of my schedule to see where 1099 would go to. And Matsonian Group didn't come about until 2003 when I had this bright idea that I need to become more professional. So I put together an LLC and started Matsonian Group LLC. And at that time we were doing shows, events. I had several different brands underneath it.
[00:52:32.490] - Matson Breakey
One was Creative Cats, which was our event company, design Dog, graphic design company. We also do political work. At the time, I hired a political consultant and we're doing political consulting, which again, because of my proclivity towards helping others versus saving money, I lost my shirt on because I would, oh yeah, no problem. We'll spend $20,000 in that marketing campaign thinking we'll just fundraise it. And of course, nobody else wanted to donate money at that time, but it was fine. We enjoyed it. So that was all the maps and that happened, like I said, about 2003.
[00:53:14.070] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, what were some of the festivals that you put on? I know you did festivals and I know you did some beer things.
[00:53:24.330] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, our first one that we ever did, and I come again from an event background doing conferences and working in all different levels of events, whether it was at trade shows where I was actually was just a guy manning the booth to doing several educational conferences and one of my short stints as working for somebody else in the late 90s. So I've had a lot of event background. I also had a state contract for a while doing conferences for social marketing. And so it was a natural for us to put on our own little event and I couldn't find raising it for politics. And we decided to start a beer festival. And it was me and two friends. They were really the guys into the beer. They were certified beer judges and really into microbrewers. Now, in Sacramento today, there's about 72 micro breweries, at least in the region. The big explosion that's happened in the last ten years, right, all over the country, right. In 2001 or 2000, we started our beer festival. There was four, and maybe really, you'd say three true microbreweries and there was a fourth one that kind of was there.
[00:54:39.510] - Matson Breakey
And there was only one other beer festival in the region that was in the fall. It's called the California Beer Festival. And that one is still around today. So we started ours in spring. And May 2000 is our very first one. We did that for 15 years until my partners and I basically had a falling out. And I just gave everything to them because they insisted that they could do it and they didn't do it and they failed for almost two years to do one. So I tried to bring it back two more in 18 and 19. We did it under a slightly different name and then the pandemic hit in 2020 and that was the last time we did it. But it was at 1.1 of the most prominent beer festivals in the country. We always kept a small, more than 3000 people. We had a competition associated with it. So there was always a few weeks before the event, there was a full blown competition with something like 21 different categories. And they all got ribbons and all kinds of awards. And I think at a peak, maybe 100 different breweries from all over the place and from overseas local, mostly all micro.
[00:56:00.990] - Matson Breakey
Of course, that time it started changing is a craft brewery, is a Microbrewery. This is a Microbrewery, but it's owned by Bush. It doesn't really qualify all these little rules we had to follow, but it was great. And I was also one of the first unlimited microgrew tasting events. So back in the day, and they do it more now, but back in the day you paid your fee and you got like ten tokens, so you got ten tastings and you had to buy more. Tucker we didn't want to do that again. My proclivity is always being customer oriented. Like we'll just make it unlimited. It's $20, you get a ticket, a cup of wristband and all the beards. Kept it to 5 hours because somehow going into well, it was a four hour event, it's we had a soft opening at noon. Later on, I think after our 10th year, we did a soft opening at noon. That became kind of our VIP hour. But it was one to five, four hour event. Somehow getting into that fifth hour always started when you started having problems you started having the police having to be a little bit more active somehow by whatever it was.
[00:57:09.010] - Matson Breakey
By hour five, there was too much beer. One to four never had any issues, and we just had a great time. We did a place called Another Park, which was right near the Marina area here in Sacramento and took over the park for a day. And it was great. It was an awesome time. Live music and great people. And there's actually a couple of documentaries done by young filmmakers about the event. It was great. Simultaneously that way. At the peak, we had actually started two others. I did one called Suzanne Green, which, interestingly enough, was done with one of my partners here at Metal Cloak before we started Metal Cloak. And it was just a beer festival in conjunction with a golf tournament. And for anybody who's really into the PGA, they know about the Phoenix Open. The Phoenix Open is this massive event with tons of breweries involved. And it was kind of a similar concept to just have a little microbrew event with an event. We also had one called the Fair October Fest, which was just another highly successful event, but it was done in a park here called Fair Oaks. And it was one of the first October festivals in the area.
[00:58:25.750] - Matson Breakey
And we did those three events. Plus we have the Farox Blues Festival and much easier to do a beer festival than it has a blues festival, I will say that. But it was a great time. For about five or six years, we did the music festival and that was great. I felt kind of weird sometimes because you always paid all your bands and cash, right? So you go over to the bar where all the people are buying beer and they go on the 20s. You grab all the 20s, you count them out and you roll up a big roll. You walk over to the manager for the main guy. He had him over $3,000 in 20s. Like, yeah, this is a legit transaction, I swear.
[00:59:10.270] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I get that. Cash is an interesting animal, that's for sure.
[00:59:17.060] - Matson Breakey
Yeah. I guess nowadays all the kids now just didn't know it exactly.
[00:59:21.760] - Big Rich Klein
But that's an electronic record of all that.
[00:59:26.050] - Matson Breakey
[00:59:27.910] - Big Rich Klein
So then let's talk about Metal Cloak and how that came about. I thought I remembered Metal Cloak back in the when I was doing calrock. So before 2005, as an armor company, I think one of our drivers, one of our teams was sponsored by a Metal Cloak back then. And maybe I have the name wrong, but tell me about it.
[00:59:58.670] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, our heritage goes back to about 2003. A company that became was known as Rev One. And I say that because and unfortunately, it's been so long, their names I think one was Eric Johnson or EJ. And I forgot the other couple of young guys, they had their own little companies doing. Engineering and fabrication. And they kind of came together because they're enthusiasts. And they built back in 2003, the very first full replacement bolt on tube fender. It was for CJ platform, but that's what they did. It was the first full replacement bulk on two fender. People got to go back and remember that if you wanted two fenders, and the concept of two fenders was fairly new. But people that did two fenders, they usually cut your fender and you bolted them onto your fender like you cut on your CJ or YJ or TJ. You just cut the interfender. Well, you bolted these two fenders on. They were kind of funky. If you wanted a high line version, you cut your hood and that was kind of funky. And you both of those stuff in, but it wasn't really a full, easy, clean bolt on replacement system like they are today.
[01:01:11.010] - Matson Breakey
So that's what they did. So back in 2003, they had this first full replacement luminous fender, very riveting looking fender, but it was a full system. Then they evolved over time, and they started building stuff for other platforms. Then in about, I'd say 2005 ish, I think as the story goes to 2005, they hooked up with a young man who had a company called sector 111. And sector 111 still exists today, a Lotus focused ecommerce company. And he had some money. He was really into Jeeps, and they talked a bit. He likes what they were doing. And so he dropped in some money as an investment. And as I understand it, I could have the story wrong, but as I understand it, they had this money, and they had a pot of money to try to build a new brand with rev One, which was the name of their company. Revision one became rev 111, just kind of connecting with sector 111, became rev 111. And the line of products they developed, which was this unique, arched two vendor that you loved and hated, an integrated rocker system. And at that time, it had flip sep system with six possible positions of the rocker and integrated rear fender.
[01:02:29.650] - Matson Breakey
They had that basic design, but that was all supposed to integrate in and connect with a bumper system and a front bumper. Like they had it all designed to be fully integrated. So they called that the metal cloak around the vehicle, right? Okay, so that was a metal cloak system which really went public in 2006, and I think it was TDs 2006 that they showed off their products for the first time. And it was a hit, big hit, right. Big sales at TDs that year. And for Tierra del Sol, for our listeners, that it was phenomenal great. 2000 and 6007 2008, the economy goes around. For whatever reason, the company shut down and didn't really operate much in 2008. I don't know if it was that the investment ran out or what occurred, but they didn't. They just put it on the block. Now, an interesting side note. My business partner, Aaron was looking for a business and Doug, we were kind of looking to see what they can get into and look at a bunch of different options. And they had been in contact with a guy named Aaron. Now, Aaron at the time had recently sold his business, but was also operating as a business broker because he had a financial background.
[01:03:49.040] - Matson Breakey
He had a little accounting business on the side as well. And I don't say his last name. You had this conversation about last names, but I always get his last name wrong. But Aaron also the company had recently sold was PRP.
[01:04:03.540] - Big Rich Klein
[01:04:04.360] - Matson Breakey
You know him well.
[01:04:05.340] - Big Rich Klein
[01:04:06.090] - Matson Breakey
And so he's also a business broker. Well, this particular company was one of his businesses that he was trying to sell. So we picked up Rev 111 in 2008 and on January 2009 opened our doors here in Northern California, moved everything from Tobacco. And really it was just an asset purchase, which basically means all we were buying were their designs and whatever happened to inventory to happen to have left. So we bought that, brought it all up here and opened our doors and started diving into the process of building that up. They had no sales for close to a year because they hadn't been doing any production on it. And it was kind of interesting because we thought we had a few months to get things started. But when the word went out, somehow, don't know how, but when the word went out that we were open again, we started getting calls. People started tracking us down through the website or whatever. So we started talking with people, figuring out what they wanted, what they liked about the product and that sort of thing. Redesigned it because to make it more effective for manufacturing. The way they designed the product was great.
[01:05:19.700] - Matson Breakey
It had it had intended purpose, but the flare on top was the flair. And the steel tube wasn't welded together. It was screwed together with little screws and a bunch of little tabs that had to be welded onto the steel. Little things that made it incredibly expensive to manufacture these products and slow as well in the process. So we redesigned it, welded on the sheet to the tube, added the balls to the end. That wasn't part of their original design. The ball lock joints that we have now, our signature ball walk joints were something we created to make them one lock up really well. But I've said this before on other shows. It also eliminated a key time consuming process in manufacturing that was we didn't have to cope the tubes because you put a tube onto a ball, you can just put it wherever you want it and you can weld it and you have to cope the tube to go against another tube. So little time saving things like that. We did in our design, made them stronger, and it took off from there. So we started making the archtute fender, the rocker system and the rear two fender added corners in because they didn't add it.
[01:06:31.790] - Matson Breakey
Started adding the YJ line of products in since. That was it. So we literally started with three products. By the end of the first year, we had YJ and TJ, but we also had the overline. That was the thing at the beginning of the year, you can see very easily out there in the world, people either love the arch vendor or they hated it. And by I think it was actually leading up to Off Road Expo 2009, our very first off road expo, which, by the way, is we're recording. This is only a week away. As we're heading into that, the challenge came up. Could we make a fender that was much more traditional? Doug, my partner and brilliant engineer and one of those guys we talked about before, they're just sitting in the room and it's just you shut up and listening. Because he's super smart. Breaks it out and sits down with the cabin and goes and designs the overlying fender, which is much more traditional. Look, still has all the clearance of the archfender, sells all the functionality, uses some of the same components. So we save our manufacturing. But we were able to then build a totally new fender that blew the market away.
[01:07:41.630] - Matson Breakey
The fact that people out there on the forms and forms were a big part of the world back then would have a negative thing to say about the arch vendor. They just didn't like the look of it. They went to September traditional. When we did that, it was amazing. The response and the feedback was great because one, metal club is willing to listen to its customers, and two, they are making something that now I like and I enjoy. So by the end of the year, I think we had ten products. Yeah, about ten products, including a bumper system, which was a whole another store to talk about someday. But the bumper system that at that time had 760 possible configurations. Wow. We had between the shack amount options, between the hoop options, between the base options, between the end cap options. If you multiplied all that with 760 possible configurations, that you can make your bumper on your own.
[01:08:38.430] - Big Rich Klein
Interesting. That's some engineering there.
[01:08:43.110] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, it was crazy. It was great. It was good marketing. There's still the thread out there. If anybody wants to go to pirate, they can search for it. It's called thank you, sir. May have another. It's a metal clip thread. Thank you, sir. May have another. It's a fascinating read. It's so hard to read because the images, most of the images on there are gone because they were full on an old server. You didn't upload your images back then, you generally link them. And it was up an old server, and so they aren't around anymore, so you don't get to see all the images. But essentially, it is us as a Mia culpa from us, because I, in my being as smart as I was, decided to post our bumper, our initial bumper design, our very first bumper design on pirate as a hey, guys, check out this. Well, we got so flamed on it because it was ugly, it was bigger than it needed to be, and it had a hoop that we the way the hoop was done, we filmed a state called the Memory because they just looked like a couple of giant boobs coming out, and we got slayed by it.
[01:09:55.740] - Matson Breakey
So Doug went and redesigned everything, made it better. And we came back in the thread, there is basically like, listen, we quoted a bunch of people, some of the worst things that people said, and we showed how we responded to it, how we changed it. Now, we listened to you and we modified and we fixed that. It's a really good thread, but it was all based on the fact that, yeah, we listen, we love our customers, and I still have a basic philosophy. We can't make our customers happy. We don't need to be in business. So we were approaching it from that angle. People thought it was lovely. We were not going to sit back here and go, well, f you what's our design, love it or hate it, we listened and we modified and we changed, and then we made the changes necessary, and then it was a hit.
[01:10:42.970] - Big Rich Klein
Good. Excellent. So then you guys from protective, meaning bumpers and fenders and sliders, all that kind of stuff, you got into suspension.
[01:11:01.390] - Matson Breakey
Yeah, and that was purely because we had all this clearance from our Archton overline fenders on the TJ YJ CJ, right. All this clearance, and you can get massive, massive flex out of our rigs. And then you go to the JK, and we built the Wood is today still the highest clearance fender on the JK, the only remaining flair on it with our overly fenders and the JK. And at the time, we were using Rubicon Express suspension because they were right down the street from us, literally a stone throw away. And we had their switch on there, but you couldn't get all the flex because there was only limiting factors. And the primary limiting factor was the shock itself. Right. Nobody cared about up travel. It was all about down travel. So you didn't try to flex up into your fender? Well, we couldn't use I mean, you're trying to flex up and we couldn't use all this clearance we had in our fenders, like, well, that doesn't help us much. That doesn't do any good for our customers. They bought these fenders, and maybe they could put bigger tires on and have a lower center gravity build, but it doesn't help with their flex.
[01:12:07.660] - Matson Breakey
So that's when Doug being again, he is the smartest guy in the room. That's when he started attacking the idea of all the shocks will be factor, how can I change the shock? And so he just kept going over and over in his head on how to do that. Of course, when he tackles these kind of things, he wakes up at 03:00 in the morning. He goes, I got some ideas. So he sits down with the board, which is me and our partner, and says it was $25,000 or something at the time was a lot of money, and it's still a lot of money, but it was a lot of money to say, okay, we're going to fund a research and development project for a shock absorber, and we are a body armor company, you understand? We don't make any moving parts. Things don't have to work. They just have to fit together to be welded. We don't have to have something functional, right? But he did it. And within three months we had a working prototype, the six back shock, that was the full rate. So while he's doing that, he was thinking, well, now I'm thinking more about suspensions overall.
[01:13:14.110] - Matson Breakey
And that's when he invented the duraflex joint, which was a big game changer. The combination of six pack shock and the duraflex joint game suspension system that to this day has unprecedented flex, unprecedented ride quality. And despite what you see on the forums, it's kind of funny. There are some guys out there to the state will still say that your control arm absolutely does not determine the quality of your ride. Okay? So you have a control arm that's connected to your axle, which is connected to your tires, and the control arm, is that connected to your frame. The frame is connected to your chair, which is connected to your seats or your pants. There's a whole philosophy debate there, but we really felt like you could reduce NVH with a better bushing and a better joint. And so we did that. We created a durflex joint, and many of our customers will say it's the best ride quality we've ever had. But between that and the six pack shock that launched us into the suspension route, it was an interesting time because we were there were still companies, and I have quotes back there from some of the leading me shot or suspension companies at the time saying, yeah, we're not worried about modern cloak, they just make body armor.
[01:14:26.670] - Matson Breakey
And what do they know? What do they know about suspension? And many naysayers. In fact, one of the greatest threads out there on the forums is JK owners, we just call it the thread, but it was started by a customer. He posts up there that he has our arms and for whatever reason, one of the other companies out there, just a mutual friend of ours, actually just his company, whoever was handling social media at the time were in the forum made a very derogatory comment and it just blew up. And I think that thread is a couple of hundred pages now. It was a back and forth where we published three white papers just on coils alone, on understanding coils, and why we chose to do the true dual rate coil the way we did. And we just published lots and lots of tech as to why we're doing stuff. And it really made a difference between us being the suspension marker or not. That thread opened the suspension world for us.
[01:15:33.710] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. That's good. I always stay out of those kind of banter, whether it was on the old forums or even on Facebook. I see it all the time. And I know all of you guys that have these suspension companies, and I know you guys are all friends or acquaintances at least. And some of the banter that goes back and forth between you guys just, I mean, it just cracks me up. And then listening to everybody's loyal customers get involved in it and it can be quite entertaining.
[01:16:27.150] - Matson Breakey
It can be. Thankfully, we're in kind of a position where I honestly don't pay attention as much as I used to. Right. I will on new product lines. I probably spend more time on Broncos Six G forum now than I do on any other form because it's a new market for us. And so we're introducing ourselves. Thankfully, there's many bronco owners who are former Jeep owners and are familiar with our product line, but there are many that don't. So you spend time on there or the Facebook groups are kind of the worst because somehow, I don't know how some of my peers within this industry, the other business owners, have time to be on Facebook, but somehow they seem to be on Facebook all the freaking time. I come home and my wife says, hey, so did you see my post today? I said, no, I'm only on Facebook. If I need to be on Facebook, I need to make a post. I need to make an answer to somebody's question on my page. But I don't have time to troll all these other groups and be a part of these groups. And it's unfortunate because let me use groups.
[01:17:33.630] - Matson Breakey
It's great marketing to be on these other groups and to share stories with, but I don't have time to do that. I don't have time to hang out there. And every once in a while it used to be, and this is a personal thing, I've kind of grown and developed and tried to be beyond it. We used to be I would get a message from somebody that so and so made this comment about your products and it's somebody in the industry. It's a derogatory comment. And it started a big thread and I'm like, this is my days shot. Now I'm going to spend my entire day just having to deal with this. Yakle. And this asset or whatever he's doing, I have to deal with it now. I don't care. It doesn't affect me. There are enough customers out there that are fans that will go and do some defensive move or help out or will communicate their truth about how they feel. But I've gotten to the point where it's like the world of it's so easy for anybody to be certain about their reality that it doesn't make sense to try to fight it.
[01:18:39.940] - Matson Breakey
It just let them exist.
[01:18:41.860] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. That's the philosophy I try to take anymore. First of all, I don't take anything personal, or I try not to. And then the other thing is, try to be so good that you don't have to defend yourself. Others will do it for you.
[01:19:02.130] - Matson Breakey
Right. That comes back to that understanding. We have the Medical Owners Club, which is a private Facebook group started by a customer. He wasn't even started by us. We don't even own it. It's still owned by this customer, and he wasn't even a customer at the time. He started the Medical Governor's Club because he wanted to learn more about medical and he wanted some genuine feedback. So he very cleverly created the Medical Owners Club and started inviting some people to it, invited us to it, obviously to legitimize it. And we play on there and we're moderators and we happen to be a part of it, but to this day, we still don't own it. And he built up this group, and there's 8000 members or something. I don't know what the number is. Now, the beauty of that group was that it was actual people who own products. It used to be more open. And we got to the point where only people that he approves now are people actually genuinely own medical products, or claim they do. You can't prove it, but claim they do. And they go on there and they can discuss product and they can ask questions.
[01:20:08.000] - Matson Breakey
And occasionally, when somebody is being inappropriate or obviously a trolling or whatever, they get kicked out. But it allows these customers to just communicate back and forth and share with each other problem, issues, things, solutions, or experiences. That part of it has been great for the social media, but it's so easy to get into these other groups where people just start trolling and are absolute experts. And you're absolutely wrong for even thinking about doing it your way. Right. It's a shame as to how far it's gone.
[01:20:46.310] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I know. Having put on Rock Crawls since 2001, I've tried over the years just about everything, whether it's class rules, safety rules, the way we run the events, the way we market the events. Over that many years, we've done 400 events. Between Dirt Riot, We Rock, and Vora, it's at least 400 events. And so I have a lot of things that I know that we've thrown out that said that didn't work for us yet. I'll always get somebody that's new to the sport or coming in or watching it, and then they contact me or they post up and say, how come you didn't do this? Or you need to do this. And it's like most of the time I'll just give a quick answer and say, we've tried that. It didn't work for us. And then when they keep pushing, it's like, you know what? There's only R1 group out there doing this across the country. Start one, right? Go for it, become an event promoter and put on some rock crawls. The thing that I found over the years is that I stuck with it because of the love of the sport, not because of how much money I made.
[01:22:23.290] - Big Rich Klein
And I think that's the reason I've been able to do this for 20 plus years is because I had a different reason to do it than anybody else. In any business that you're in, there's got to be some reason that you get up every morning to go do it. And if it's just money, it's no longer fun.
[01:22:52.370] - Matson Breakey
No. Money is the base motivation, right? And I say base as far as the beginning base is in like the baseless, the bottom. Your only goal is to make money. You're right. You're not going to enjoy it. You're not really going to have the outcome you expect, right? Greatest companies in the world were started by people who were passionate about what they were doing, passionate about whether it was helping people or passionate about chocolate or passionate about you can hear stories like, I don't know if you watch, but History Channel has a whole slew of a whole series about foods right now. And I think it's probably an old series, but I was just recently introduced to it. So it's talking about the history of Coca Cola and the battles there and the history. And yet while the guy who maybe ended up with the company was there just to build an empire, the guy that made it possible was there because he had a passion for the product, right? And many times that's the founder's stories. Guys who are passionate about the product, build the product, make the sacrifices and put their passion there and then maybe somebody else who's more business oriented takes it to the next level.
[01:24:05.130] - Matson Breakey
But it's all of us here. And I would say that for the most part, all those people I know and that, you know, in this industry what's great about this industry is we have a passion for the industry, right? We have a passion for off road passion for the people. We have a passion for racing and we have a passion for motor sports. We have a passion for Jeeps or Toyota or whatever the company must be. For the most part. That's the case occasionally. Now, in this world we live in, there's a lot of companies buying these other companies, right, and building it up, and then you end up having hopefully you still have people with passion in key positions and not just being replaced by corporate overlords who are trying to just max out the equity of the company, max out the cash flow company and then turn around.
[01:24:59.730] - Big Rich Klein
You can see that in so many business genres, I guess, as a way to say it, the media side magazine. You look back on the days of Peterson's Publishing and when there was ten different hot rod magazines, there were ten different off road magazines because everybody that was doing it was doing it because they were an enthusiast. They were passionate about that genre. That's gone. I mean, these companies, like you say, come in and buy them up. These investment firms, they're going to go, okay, we're going to cut this, and we'll maximize the dollar over here. We're going to combine all of these magazines into one editorial group or the marketing group, and they're all sitting there, bean counters and lawyers sitting above it, and they end up ruining it.
[01:26:07.470] - Matson Breakey
Well, that's a shame. With Polaris and like Transamerica, you can say one about Trans America and Greg Adler and four parts, and people have mixed reviews about that conglomerate of companies. They buying a poison spider. The buying of Rubicon Express pretty much from the banks and building of these brands is just cash flow machines and maybe not having the passion that the founders had in those brands. But when polaris came in, you saw a complete change, right. And they actually started getting rid of those people that were in the company still, who were still passionate for the man, right. They just stripped him out. Poison spider, there was a big purge. I guess it was like 46 or 62, I forget the number. Senior managers across the transamerica product lines all got canned, and it was replaced. Well, now, Polaris, as I understood, because I don't actually know what the final numbers were. Maybe you do. When Will Pros bought it, they bought it for a lot less than polaris bought it.
[01:27:14.720] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's my understanding, too. That's why we sold our polaris stock. We took a dump on it because we knew it wasn't going anywhere. I mean, it was the same thing with Harley Davidson. There was just there was no movement in it. We thought, okay, polaris is going to do this. They're doing it for distribution. They want the distribution of Transamerica. And they didn't use it.
[01:27:42.690] - Matson Breakey
There was a failure to it. I think they tried they tried to get the full part stores to be somewhat polaris, but my understanding was the kickback from the Polaris dealers across the country is like, well, hell no, you're not going to do that. I got your exclusive. So their concept failed. But now Pros, they seem to be going right at it. They've got the whole tap manufacturing. The last I heard is tap manufacturing is moving from southern california to Utah. I think they have like 60 more days before all of that moves. So Will Press is growing right out and they have a passion for it still, right? I think it'll be great for all the brands. They'll revitalize the brand. Maybe Poison Spider will finally get a new website, right? I think they've proven that they understand better. They own a lot. So hopefully they do because hopefully they don't run the Terraflex brand, hopefully they don't run these or they do a better job of building up the four parts brand and all of that. We have passionate people that are into it. That's one thing, right?
[01:28:57.760] - Big Rich Klein
True. So what's next for Madson?
[01:29:04.150] - Matson Breakey
For me, it's just writing this game last 13 years has been quite a journey. When I started this, I was in the neighbor reserves as well and then stopped doing that in 2009 and got married in 2010 and then 2015 started adopting kids. My wife and I were doing foster adopt. We've had twelve kids to our house since we started doing that. Adopted three of them. So the journey on right now is about the kiddos. I have six year old, a four year old and a three year old. So the real journey is really the thought process becomes like, okay, so everything it is, is about where are they going to go to school, where are they going to grow up. We're going to keep them in California because California is going crazy and it's better to move your kids elsewhere and let them, let them be raised in a different environment. So really that's where the focus is, right? I don't race anymore. We went out and enjoy ourselves occasionally. If some people listen to my podcast, modern Jewish Show will hear me talk about actually going to an event which happens in a rare and a blue moon.
[01:30:20.470] - Matson Breakey
I live vicariously through Corey and Jesse and their Monitor Adventures and it's been fun, but I don't get out as much latest just because of the responsibilities here with a growing company and the employees and people that depend on the products of going out and a growing family at home.
[01:30:40.150] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. I'm glad to hear that family is.
[01:30:45.120] - Matson Breakey
Important, but all I know is when I was in my 40s out doing stuff around the yard and realizing that all my friends had their kids doing the stuff in their 40s because they had their kids in their twenty s. I thought, oh, there was a smartness to that, right? And I didn't even start having on here. I'm 52 and got kids, which means I also have to think differently about it. I have to think about my health. I have to think about what I'm doing, how I live my life and all the things I do because I want to be around when they go off to school, when they're done. I'd like to be around when they get married. I'd. Like to see my kids when they start their lives. Right, right. So it becomes a different avenue when you're thinking that, well, I'm going to be in my 70s if they go to college and they graduate college, and most like in the 70s when maybe they only get married. That's a very interesting thing. Today we live in a world where the 70s is like the new 50s. It's not that big a deal.
[01:31:46.970] - Matson Breakey
We can if you take care of yourself and with modern medicine, people are easily survived in past their seventy s and eighty s and such. But there are so many things that can happen between now and then. Right. So try to live your life and expand your life, but also take care of it. How do they say? Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, but just do what you can to be there so that I am always there, so that I didn't make a mistake in bringing these kids in only to be not around when they need me the most.
[01:32:22.770] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's good. Well, Mattison, I think we've covered all the bases.
[01:32:29.890] - Matson Breakey
Cool. Well, it's been a fun conversation. I think we got pretty deep into some stuff. I think we could get do a little bit more couch therapy if we need to.
[01:32:36.280] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we could. Well, Madson, thank you so much for spending the time and finally being able to hook up and do this. We've been talking about it for a year and a half or so, and I'm glad that we got this time to sit and talk.
[01:32:54.310] - Matson Breakey
Absolutely. Rich, always a pleasure. I said, we've been doing Conversations with Rich for a long time. Just now. It's finally recorded.
[01:33:00.150] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. All right. Thank you, buddy.
[01:33:03.030] - Matson Breakey
[01:33:03.870] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, bye bye bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on. Or send us an email or text message or Facebook message and let me know any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest. Please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.