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In the foothills of Los Angeles, CA in the early 1960’s things were a bit different. The decade of change was rapidly approaching and the landscape of America was quickly taking root in the valleys and mountains surrounding the City of Angels. It was here along the local mountains and trails a young man named Jim O’Neal would ride his modified triumph motorcycle to school and would find himself taking the same Triumph through the dirt and tracks into the hillsides above the city.
- “It wasn’t about making money. Our drive was really about finding and creating better products to race with.”
“I began riding seriously in 1962. I trained for riding competitively and I lived for it. It was all I thought about. I spent time hitting the local hills and trails with my buddies. The bikes weren’t built for racing then; they were actually street bikes that we converted for dirt use. While I was a freshman in High School, I rode a Triumph to school everyday. I started making parts and modifying my motorcycle in auto and metal shops at my High School. It was cool to have something on my bike that no one else had. This is when I realized there was a huge demand for special parts that could modify those street bikes to take the abuse of off-road racing”.
In the late 1960’s America was formally introduced to Motocross when the Europeans came over to ride near Jims home just outside of LA in Simi Valley, CA at the Corriganville Movie Ranch which was also known as Hopetown.
In 1970, Jim began attending his races with some spare tires and parts to sell to local riders. Jim’s first big product was Preston Petty fenders. “Those Fenders were hot. Off Road racing was just getting serious and everyone needed the better parts, apparel and accessories to compete. My first big sponsor was Andy Kolbe. Without the help of Andy and Preston, I might still be working in the local liquor store or flipping burgers at McDonald’s.” It was then that Jim O’Neal Distributing Inc. was born.
“It wasn’t about making money. Our drive was really about finding and creating better products to race with. If we could help improve the sport and make a little money doing it, then that was great.” The company grew from the back of Jims Van, to his garage at home to industrial buildings that just continued to expand and expand in size. The product line grew too. From roughly 120 part numbers in 1970 to over 12,000 products today.
“We learned a lot along the way, surviving three bad recessions. O’Neal became a distributor of other peoples’ products and we never stopped our continued focus on the ongoing development of our own product line. Nearly 20 years ago, Jim decided to take on some partners with experience. At that time, he had done business with Frank Kashare for over 10 years. Frank, was supplying O’Neal with some parts for moto and was also a licensee of our popular Azonic brand of bicycle parts, apparel and accessories. Larry Glover was a racer and former distributor of our products in both Saudi Arabia and Guatemala. Larry Glover now resides in the U.K. and helps to oversee our International sales and marketing efforts. The partners combined with Justin Duganne, our General Manager, have been with the company for nearly 20 years and this new Team allowed our sales to simply explode.”
O’Neal USA has expanded and now has five brands that are pushed in different disciplines of various sports. Their Azonic brand was founded in 1989 and produces high end, quality, bicycle parts, apparel and accessories as well as select goods for upper end motocross use. The company also launched an eyewear line by the name of Blur Optics nearly 18 years ago. Under the Blur badge O’Neal sells, Goggles and Sunglasses as well as casual wear. Later FOUR was introduced and was the first line of special protective gear specific for the ATV market. And Rockhard helmets was launched in 2007 and focuses on very limited edition music and culture inspired graphics which have included partner artists and icons such as ACDC, KISS, Elvis and Evel Knievel among many others. “We have some great young dedicated people who have helped us launch and grow these brands. Some of the art guys and I get the chance to test the products together by going out riding and racing on a regular basis.”
45 years later O’Neal is still pushing boundaries, and continuing to set a new standard.
Today you can find the O’NEAL US office just a few miles down the road from that old Hopetown track. You can find dedicated team members still pushing to develop products to take you further and faster on two wheels than ever before. And on the local tracks and trails around town and down in Baja, you will still find Jim O’Neal pushing his passions to the limits every chance he gets. More than 45 years later you can find O’NEAL at nearly 7,000 retail locations worldwide. In each one of those locations you will find the passion to push further, in every single product.