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Check out our extended interview where Brandon Rohde caught up with Chris Dickerson from Horizon Hobby and Todd Mattson from Pro-Line Racing.
Brandon Rohde: How did this come to fruition? Background on the companies?
Todd Mattson: About a year ago we had a lunch and talked about the industry and the idea kind of came to the surface to make the companies work together more closely. In the last 2 years we started working together on bringing out complementary products and then in the last year moving towards this type of agreement. We wanted to maximize the strengths of the two companies.
Chris Dickerson: Mutual respect and appreciation of two companies plus just working together in the same industry over the years lead towards this type of agreement.
BR: Was there open bidding on the purchase of Pro-Line Racing?
TM: just one path, just wanting to do this with horizon. They weren’t really looking to sell otherwise. How can we make this happen together or not at all.
BR: Will Mr. Todd Mattson remain involved?
TM: I will be staying on and maintaining influence. I still get to be involved and passionate but also work with the other sister brands like Axial and Losi to bring the brands together to make interesting new things. I want to continue because I am having fun and I enjoy this industry!
BR: Chris, Horizon hasn’t had a true specific tire brand so what does this offer for the company?
CD: Well they offer these great complementary products for what we make which is cars and trucks, we make the platform first and no company that makes cars really makes tires in the full scale arena. Pro-Line gives us the ability to move faster and be more agile in providing said accessories like tires, bodies, hard parts etc. We have done tires and wheels before with losi and they were very successful but they simply do it better, and like we said before, move quicker, and they have such a strong team.
BR: Will proline products start showing up on other proprietary brands out of the box, IE: Axial RTRs?
CD: This is definitely a possibility, over time it is something we definitely will look into implementing. Just gives a lot more options and once we look into the logistics we will know better.
BR: Proline has created some kits, will you continue that?
TM: Those things we produced were kits not RTRs so as much as we poured into them we have never done electronics and we didn’t really want to. It wasn’t a confidence for us, but with horizon we have more options so we might look into something like that but there are no set plans at the moment. They would be products that would fit an upper echelon of the RTR market which would be exciting and fun to look into. We love competition and we love that this partnership will allow us to compete.
BR: How will this affect the employees of the Pro-Line brand?
TM: Horizon’s plan is to lease the building and keep us into the same place to operate fairly independently. I don’t plan on changing the way we go about working and talking with the team so we don’t plan on changing things. We have the flexibility and I have the access and influence to be in a position to work with and retain pretty much everyone. Keeping the team in tact was important. This project gives some of our people more opportunities to do even greater things which I find exciting.
CD: We appreciate the Pro-Line staff and what they do and who they are and how that affects the brand so we don’t need to change people. We don’t need to move them, we are used to working out of different places. We can just provide more resources where they are at.
BR: Do you plan to keep manufacturing in house?
CD: Resounding yes, we plan to keep it here and there are a lot of things that we do that we can add horizon brands in for and we can do even more manufacturing here in house for the other brands which is exciting. Resources have been bought to actually bring more things in house.
BR: Proline is very diverse in racing and bashing, will this change or will we still see racing, bashing, and scale products stay prominent in their own ways?
CD: The commitment is to keep driving product development through racing which matches with Team Losi Racing and matches what they want to do which is a commitment we agree on.
BR: How will affect the race teams both on the Pro-Line side and on the Horizon Hobby side?
CD: We want people to compete with what they feel is competitive so if they want to run another brand of tires or electronics that isn’t something we push or work with we aren’t going to stop them The team is free to do whatever they feel is best for them.
TM: Not a whole lot for change from a team perspective. We want to see racing grow so we dont want to do anything to shrink it at all.
BR: Is horizon still going to continue carrying competing products like other tire brands?
CD: We want to offer all the brands that people really want from the distribution stand point because it makes it easier for people to want to come to us to buy things wether it is one of our brands or not so will you continue to see Pro-Line, JConcepts, AKA Products etc.
BR: Todd do you plan to work forever or is there a retirement plan away from RC?
TM: We still have kids in college and I don't really see myself in retirement or really believe in it for myself. I have been in a business group for over 10 years and I love business. Even if I dont have a day job I plan to do something like coaching or consulting for business. I enjoy non-profits and working with them and restoring old cars like Volkswagen so I would like to get back to that. I appreciate the industry and all they have given me so I would like to even get back to racing some, I remember racing with Gil Losi and guys like that and having to move over a bunch for them and I appreciate seeing the growth of the brand and the industry and want to contribute.
BR: Chris, same question and where do you see Horizon Hobby in 10 years?
CD: Big question, I started working in the IT department doing project management on fast serve which was great but it wasn’t as cool as working on a Spektrum radio or something, so I just kept moving up and working on more fun projects. Now I want to do that for other people give them opportunities to grow and flourish into new things. I even joined a coaching group that Todd got me into in the midwest where I live. As far as Horizon we just want to provide an exceptional customer experience and really cool and interesting products. With the craziness of the pandemic it got a lot off people back into RC and we just want to see it grow even more because the industry is so cool and fun. Pro-Line gives us more ideas then we have time for which is super fun and a great problem to have. Spectrum and Arrma have shown that and how the growth is exciting.
TM: ended it by saying that he admires the work ethic and the dedication from a media standpoint to cover all of these events and add all that LiveRC has to the industry. He admires that it’s never been about getting rich, but just wanting to get coverage of these events out to the people and thanks Brandon for everything!
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