A week ago Trevor Knesal parted ways with Diamondback after working for them for ten years. We hit up the team manager and do-everything guy at the brand to see what’s in store for him now and as usual Trevor had no shortage of words…
How long were you with Diamondback and what were your duties there?
I was hired in October of 1999 as Raleigh was purchasing Diamondback and canned last Friday (the 12th). So I was there for almost 10 years. I started as a Customer Service Rep—taking orders, handling warranties, counseling dealers, and helping customers (dealers & consumers), and field reps out any way I could. I really enjoyed that job until the Marketing Manager at the time recruited me to become a Marketing Services Coordinator. After that, I enjoyed the new opportunity in Marketing for most of the 8 years I was in the position.
Trevor in his old cube.
The list of my duties while coordinating marketing services varied over the years, but the collection below (lifted from my resume') best sums up the things I did as the DB Marketing Guy.
• Wrote copy for all Diamondback ads, websites, and catalogs.
• Wrote / maintained blogs on diamondback.com and diamondbackbmx.com
• Assisted with organization and execution of studio and lifestyle photo shoots for ads, catalogs and websites.
• Assisted with product development of BMX bicycles, parts and accessories.
• Received and processed all proposals for sponsorships, donations, benefits and promotions.
• Responsible for the management and marketing of pro BMX team.
• Communicated and distributed relevant Diamondback information, press releases, and new product offerings to the media.
• Monitored and maintained Diamondback marketing budgets and usage.
• Managed development, production, and distribution of promotional and collateral materials to support Diamondback sales and marketing programs.
• Analyzed marketing programs and adjusted strategy and tactics to increase effectiveness.
Why did you and Diamondback part ways?
The reason behind my dismissal isn't all that interesting or exciting. It was just time for me to go. The fire that once burned in me for "coordinating marketing services" at Raleigh America had long since turned to a smolder and I had had a very hard time being grateful for my job. I had known for a long time that I was supposed to be pursuing and doing something else, but I enjoyed the company of those I worked with and doing what I did there so much that I really didn't look very hard for what I was supposed to be doing next and I needed some help getting that process started. That's where my boss came in, but I certainly have no hard feelings toward him for being the man God used to brush me out of the nest that was my cubicle in the back of that office. He did the right thing for Diamondback and for me too.
Your first time at X Games as more than a spectator is pretty awesome…
What was it like working with the team riders during that time?
That was by far one of my favorite parts of the job. I grew up thoroughly enjoying the times I spent on my BMX bike, racing for many years and competing (kind of) in some of the early dirt jumping contests. But I never really cared much about becoming a well-known or successful rider. Not enough to work at it and take it seriously at least. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that because I was tall and laid back, I would one day marry a beautiful woman like my wife April (sorry guys – I don't make the rules) and that I wouldn't need to do tricks to try to get her attention or to sell her on the idea that I might be the one for her. With riding and other things I enjoy doing to recreate, I always just get good enough to have fun and then things level off pretty quickly.
For me, the real joy comes from equipping others to live out their dreams and to provide them with the support to do so. Bike companies are businesses, so every sponsorship relationship has to be mutually beneficial (and not a handout to a rider). When you partner a brand up with people who understand that and who are the right people for that role for other simple reasons, it is nothing short of a thrill and a joy to support and encourage them and to help them get where they want to go.
One of the first times I spoke with Diogo Canina, he told me that it was his dream to come to the states, to ride for a company he could be proud of and to compete at the X Games. Words can't express how rewarding it was for me to have anything to do with that dream of his coming true as he won the Silver in Super Park last year at the X Games. I'm surely not taking any credit for his success. The next marketing guy in the business with half a brain would have signed him up in a heartbeat, but it brought me great joy to have anything to do with supporting him along the way toward his goal. He said he wanted to ride for someone he could be proud of, but having him on the team made us proud to be part of the brand too. That's the stuff that turns my cranks.
I've worked with so many great guys over the years who have at one time or another been part of the team, that I shouldn't have even started rambling about any one of them. Have fun out there guys and thanks again for everything!
“People will fight for anything if it’s free. I’m handing out stickers and catalogs and throwing some T’s out too.” – Trevor (Gravity Games, ’03)
What’s on the horizon for you now?
Unemployment, blue skies, and time to ride and spend with my wife and daughter for now. But to pay the bills after, I really have no idea what I'll be doing. After nearly 10 years at a desk, the thought of driving a street-sweeper or operating another noisy piece of machinery that doesn't have a telephone or a computer in it really appeals to me. That said, I probably ought to start trying to link things together on my resume’ that might make sense next to each other and look more like a career path than 4 or 5 on shuffle. I'd really like to win the lotto and spend a lot more time doing ministry work, working with "at-risk" youth, teaching people about who Jesus really is, and doing other things I find to be extremely fulfilling and important that don't pay very well.
“That last shot is the most recent shot I have of me riding. I’m on my Sledgehammer hitting a jump on the side of my house that I’ve since plowed. The dirt in the yard just wouldn’t pack and I couldn’t stop things from growing on it.” – Trevor
What was the best part of working for a company in the BMX industry? The worst part?
I think for me, those two things are the same; working full time with something I have great passion for. That can be the best thing and it can be the worst thing too. I am a huge fan of the bicycle and when I see people reaping half of the benefits bicycles have provided me, it's an extremely fulfilling business for me to be in. When a young guy struggling with depression finds out he can put a smile on his face, make great friends, and have the time of his life as he finds himself with the help of a BMX bike; I'm psyched. Or when a family that spends no time together and shares no common interests gets involved in BMX racing and begins to get to know each other while traveling to races. When an aging and overweight woman losing the use of her knees finds out she can spend 200 or 300 bucks on a comfort bike and restore her health while she enjoys the outdoors; it's my hair that gets blown back. When you get to hear about those kinds of things taking place because of the work you're doing to connect people with bicycles, and when the riders are happy and healthy and living out their dreams; it's the best thing ever.
But the passion can bring you pain as well when things are not going the way you believe they ought to be going. If you work in a field or a business you have no passion for, you're probably just numb and punching a clock and doing your best everyday to convince yourself (or just those around you) that you care about what you're doing. But when you're truly passionate about something and believe with everything in you that you know how certain things should work, and someone else is just as passionate in believing that they know better; you find yourself feeling like a member of a quarrelling rock band. That said, I wouldn't suggest anyone do anything they're not passionate about. I've been in several rock bands over the years and I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything. The growth, the productivity and the many good times that come from those situations far outweigh the few frustrations along the way.
Is doing something outside of the BMX industry ever in your thoughts?
Pretty regularly, but only because I really like the place I live and there are no bike companies as close to home as I'd like to work. But if I have to choose between moving and feeding my family I'm going to go ahead pack things up. I'd much rather move and eat than stay here and starve. I could definitely see myself working outside the industry, but I don't know how long it would last. Ministry and BMX are the two things I'm most passionate about, so I have a hunch I won't be going too far. I'm not one of these guys who has to stay in it to have an identity or to feel like I'm cool. I think I'd maintain the level of coolness I'm at in any business, but I do greatly enjoy this one.
Can you tell I'm struggling with the topic of where I should be headed next? I'm definitely not a very confident dancer and I don't feel all that comfortable around horses or birds, but aside from that, I'm pretty open to suggestions or ideas. Anyone with any ideas for me can send them to [email protected] if they'd like. You just never know where great ideas are going to come from. I even come up with a few myself every now and then.
Old centerfold from Ride. Photo by Brad McDonald.
What is your advice for someone looking to get a job in the BMX industry?
I'd suggest they first make sure they have fully embraced the facts that nobody owes them anything and that everything worth having is worth working for. Don't assume it's all about free Mountain Dew and swag. It is a good time, but you'll never feel bad for cashing the checks. Then I'd just tell them to be nice to people, treat others with respect and work hard where they're at while occasionally looking up to scan the horizon for other opportunities (or not).
I had worked at a bike shop for 5 years, a snowboard shop for one, and then manufactured snowboard wax for 3 before I returned to the bike business, but when I got called in to interview at Raleigh, I was diligently washing cars at a Volvo dealership because I thought I wanted to sell cars (and everyone knows they find their star sales guys in the wash bay)… Oops! I was washing Volvos outside in the middle of winter at 6 in the morning! It didn't take long before I realized my dream of being a commission car salesman looked more like a nightmare (to me, at least) and I found myself literally out in the cold.
Fortunately for me, I got a call from Scott Matual about 2 weeks in to that gig and he told me that Raleigh was buying Diamondback and that they were looking for some reliable people who were also into BMX. I guess I fit the bill. I gave Shirley Kay a call, rinsed the soap off of me and grabbed a somewhat recent copy of Ride BMX magazine (that happened to have a shot of me in the centerfold) and I headed in for an interview. She took a real chance with me. Before I started there, I had very limited experience with office machines and I had never sent an e-mail or operated a computer that didn't say Atari or Nintendo on it, but it all worked out. Thanks again Shirley! When I was offered the job I had in there for the past 8 years, I was just diligently doing the other one they gave me to do.
I'd also tell them to be grateful for every opportunity they're given, to show up on time, to do what they say they're going to do and to make the most out of things and do their best where they're at.
Lastly I'd tell them not to look for things, but to watch for them. I know it's a fine line, but it's been my experience that while looking for a job or a girlfriend you only find trouble. But if you patiently watch for either of those things, good things happen. It's like trying to force a new move into your bag of tricks. Things get pretty ugly, but if you just ride and let things flow, you develop style and learn tricks too.
Have fun everybody and thanks for everything!