Brett Smith, President of S&S Cycle reads this Blog, and of course all the comments you made following my posts about the S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration. Below are his answers to your questions and/or concerns (picture Brett Smith with wife Robin during opening ceremonies)
Judging from the various posts on this website, we are as passionate and enthusiastic as ever–a great thing. I think many of you know that I typically do not respond to posts on websites, but on occassion, I feel it necessary to try and clear up a few points. Many of these points have already been made, but perhaps hearing them from me might carry some weight–if you can trust me to speak truth. If you can’t there’s not too much I can do about that.
#1: It is absolutely correct that the builders were volunteers and the contracts they signed had as much to do with the possession of limited edition 50th Anniversary Engines as anything else. They were also required to attend in person–barring significant conflicts or personal issues. All the builders knew this well in advance, except for those gracious individuals (such as Chopper Dave, Flyrite Choppers, Trevelen, Kris Krome, and Blake Sabers) that stepped up to fill in at the last minute (within two months of the 50th) for a few builders that had personal/professional issues precluding their attendance.
#2: It is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE that if a builder failed to show up or elected not to participate, that they could never buy from S&S again. That is simply a farce and libel against our company. S&S would never endorse such a policy and anyone that knows me at all would tell you that.
#3: It is true that the builders accounted for 60% of the vote and there were 50 of them, so the builders could essentially decide the winner if they all agreed. It is true that the media accounted for 20% of the vote, and there were not that many media member voters. Finally, there were many sponsor and VIP voters–over 30 if I’m not mistaken and of that number, I believe there were 5 S&S representatives (I WAS NOT ONE OF THEM). So, while S&S had a vote, it amounted to somewhere around 3.33% of the total vote–hardly enough to sway anything.
#4: I had no idea who the winners were until they were announced on the podium. I wanted it that way and demanded it. AMD was contracted to oversee the entire process vote counting process. You can ask Robin Bradley, Neil Blaber, or Chris McGee if you must–they spent 17 hours tallying all the votes–NOT S&S.
#5: The voting criteria was very focused, the builders were informed of it before they built their bikes, and was as follows:
30% Engineering and Innovation
10% Celebration of S&S 50th
7.5% Overall Aesthetic Appeal
#6: As many of you know, the ride from La Crosse to Viola and back with all the builders was cancelled due to the continual rain we had. We wanted to attempt to do it later during the weekend, but the logistics proved to be far to difficult to overcome with continual scattered showers and the traffic (we lost the window for the state police escorted ride after the first day). Further, all the builders put their heart and soul into the bikes and we didn’t want to risk damage during a ride in the rain. For that reason, we gave each builder full credit on Rideability because the judging at that point would have been subjective and arbitrary, rather than objective through a 110 mile round-trip ride.
#7: S&S didn’t make a dime off the event. As a matter of fact, all the profits from the engines we sold to the builders went right back to the builders in the form of accomodations, meals, jackets, river boat cruises, MAC toolboxes, prizes, etc.
#8: The admission to the event ($5 for the entire weekend) went directly to the Oktoberfest committee that graciously lent the land so any builder/vendor that showed up didn’t have to front the money for space (at other rallies similar space would start at $5K and go up to $25K for a week). All the profits on the apparel we sold at the event was done through 3 charities: The Boys & Girls Club, the Children’s Museum, and Riverfront (an organization that employs the disabled and handicapped). In total the Oktoberfest committee raised over $50K and our three charities raised over $18K each.
#9: S&S is not moving to China, Europe, or anywhere else. We are a Wisconsin-based company that distributes products globally and always have. The relationship between builders from the United States versus other countries was nearly directly proportional to our sales in those various regions–FACT.
#10: To say that we intentionally master-minded the winner and ensured the foreigners had such a respectable showing is simply false and completely ludicrous. As a matter of fact, some of these foreign builders had to overcome huge obstacles to get here and got no special favors (other than our international shipping rates) to get here. They had challenges with overseas shipping, the EPA, customs, etc. I’m thankful for all the builders and proud of their spirit, teamwork (many of them helped each other out with last-minute challenges), and support of our event. The dedication was so remarkable, that even a few builders that ran into snafus with their bikes and didn’t get them totally completed, STILL SHOWED UP AND DISPLAYED THEIR BIKES! That took remarkable courage in my opinion and I look foward to the completed versions of those bikes when they compete at the World Championships in Sturgis. THANK YOU TO ALL 50 AND GOD BLESS THEM ALL!
#11: I’m glad I was not a judge for the very reasons I’m responding to these blogs. I’ve travelled all over the world and attended custom bike shows in many different countries. I can tell you that the talent assembled at our 50th and the competition was unbelievable and nearly every builder I spoke to regarding their resposibilities as judges said they were overwhelmed. The builders and all judges took their roles very seriously and many spent well over 4-5 hours judging at a time, came back, and judged some more. To say that the voting was rigged is a discredit not only to the builders that won, but all the builders that took their role as judges very seriously. I am dissapointed that some of the posters on this site have such little regard for the integrity of S&S, the media, and most importantly, the 50 builders that were the primary judges of our celebration. I wish those of you that didn’t make it could have been there to experience it and enjoy it as enthusiasts of this great industry.I hope this post clears up any confusion. Thanks much and God bless, Brett Smith, President S&S Cycle.