Hey Worldwide Cyclery crew! This is Max and on this factory tour, I'm taking you through the FOX Factory East Coast operation in Asheville, North Carolina. FOX's new office here in Asheville houses a portion of their mountain bike product line. This facility in Asheville has been up and running since the fall of 2017 and is home to a full time engineering team, suspension service department, sales team, customer service, and shipping department. Let's take a look at everything that goes down here at FOX Factory East.
The all new FOX 34 Step Cast chassis with redesigned Fit4 damper was one of the first forks born out of the Asheville office
In 1974, Bob Fox developed his first shock designs and, partnered with his brother Geoff, began distributing motocross suspension. From the beginning, Bob was racing his own suspension products in motocross. In 1978, the company split with Bob Fox leading what is now FOX Factory, the suspension side, and his brother Geoff leading Fox Head, the sports clothing and protective equipment side. Now you will see FOX suspension products on everything, including motorcycles, ATVs, trucks, mountain bikes, and snowmobiles among others. FOX is a company that is largely engineering and race driven, so there is continuous testing with FOX athletes in an effort to improve both performance and reliability across the entire lineup of FOX products.
As FOX has continued to grow, the company realized the importance and benefits to having a location on the East Coast, including the ability to cut down on shipping lead time for both suspension service and sales orders. Establishing an East Coast office became a great opportunity, at a perfect time, for FOX to continue to grow and expand their efforts in the mountain bike arena.
In order to grasp the full operation FOX now has up and running here in Asheville, you first need to know Josh. Josh is the head of the East Coast engineering team and has played an integral part in FOX's new southeast outfit. In 2015, before a full time sales or service team came on board here in Asheville, Josh was hired by FOX and began working solely out of his own garage. Not too long after, an engineering group was assembled with the additions of Tom and Kip. FOX is a company whose products are driven by engineering and performance needs, so it is fitting that the office in Asheville started with just three engineers. Now the new FOX Factory East office is home to 30 employees and is located in a hotbed for mountain biking.
Welcome to FOX Factory East
Meet the service technician and customer service team. These guys and gals all love bikes!
The engineering team here in Asheville now has six employees: design engineers Josh, Tom, Dan, and Kip; Matt, who oversees the engineering workshop; and John, who runs development testing. The majority of projects in the engineering department span a two to three year development cycle.
While each individual project has a lead engineer, this development cycle gives the team time to collaborate on the design, development, and testing before a product is moved into production. For example, Josh was most recently the lead on the DPX2 rear shock, Tom has been in charge of the Float X2 rear shock updates, Dan designed the all new FOX 34 Step Cast fork, Kip handles everything Transfer seatpost, and you can find Matt down in the workshop building and testing the latest prototypes. The DPX2, Float X2, and FOX 34 Step Cast have become headliners in the full product range that FOX offers, and it is very cool to see these products come out of Asheville.
Tom was the engineering lead on revamping the FOX Float X2 we saw for 2019
All of the engineers at FOX are continuously pushing the envelope, looking for ways to increase both performance and reliability. In the photo above, Tom walked me through the ins and out of the current Float X2 rear shock. From the beginning, the Float X2 was one of the most popular air shocks for downhill and enduro bikes. Now, since the shock has been updated, the Float X2 is even more sensitive to small bumps and uses a larger bottom out bumper.
The photo below shows the lathe that lives in the engineering workshop that can be used to make any one-off prototype parts. This particular machine is also fitted with a drill press, which is certainly a handy tool to have.
An in-house lathe makes it easy to produce quick, one-off parts.
There is constant tuning and progression going on in the engineering workshop
A hand dyno is used to test a prototype Float X2 shock's functionality before it is ridden out on the trail. Check out the 3d printed prototype trunnion mounts for the hand dyno
This EMA-dyno is used primarily to test damper performance and functionality for both forks and shocks
Tom is running a test to learn more about damping performance for a new shim stack arrangement inside this DPX2 rear shock
While the Asheville engineering team was in its adolescence, the FOX headquarters in Scotts Valley envisioned the benefits to having a full time FOX service center on the East Coast of the United States. FOX ended up acquiring Suspension Experts, a successful suspension service company, from its owners Kevin and Shelley. Suspension Experts, also based in Asheville was founded in 2005 and served riders, bike shops, and manufacturers with mountain bike suspension service and tuning.
With a fully functional service department here in Asheville as well as the original service department on the West Coast, turnaround time for customers has been cut down substantially. Kevin has remained on board and is now the service manager at FOX Factory East. Kevin is in charge of making sure the whole service department stays streamlined and is an absolute suspension guru. Kevin is a huge asset to the team here with years and years of mountain bike suspension experience.
In the FOX Factory East service department, there are two service writers that work directly with customers to ensure all service is completed per the customer’s request, and five technicians servicing all of FOX’s mountain biking products. Each technician works on regular service items as well as the small percentage of warranty claims that are received. The common theme reflected throughout all of the service department is how the customer's needs come before anything else. FOX takes care of its customers and it was very nice meeting the team behind the scene.
Gabe is one of the service technicians here in Asheville. You will also find him as a race support tech at different events or at a FOX dealer teaching mechanics on how to properly service FOX suspension
An older FOX Triad rear shock in for service. FOX carries service parts for a huge variety of products, some dating back to 2007
The service center here in Asheville also functions as a small distribution center for customer orders and "emergency" situations. The inventory specialist, Steffen, is in charge of everything that stays on the shelves here in Asheville. FOX keeps in stock some of each of the most popular selling forks, shocks, dropper seatposts, and small service parts to fulfill the service center's needs. You can find anything from the latest FOX 36 fork with the Grip2 damper to some 2009 FOX 32 26" fork parts. It was crazy digging around these shelves finding what now seem like ancient artifacts, but these parts are kept hanging around for service needs.
The service department stocks some of the most popular selling forks, shocks, Transfer seatposts, and small parts for both service and specific distribution needs
Inventory Manager Steffen showing off some FOX heritage
40mm Kashima upper tubes are just one of roughly 2500 parts in Asheville’s inventory
The sales representatives have been one of the latest additions to the office here in North Carolina. Steve leads the sales and customer service department as the Global Aftermarket and Domestic Sales Director. Steve spearheaded the integration of Race Face and Easton into the FOX family. Also housed in the Asheville office are Jim, the OEM Sales Manager, Mike, the East Coast Aftermarket Sales Representative, and Neal, the Aftermarket Demand Planner.
The display wall is littered with goodies!
There are six customer service representatives here in Asheville along with five others in Scotts Valley. Apart from just having more staff, housing the customer service department in both locations allows FOX to be available over more time zones. If you pick up the phone to ask about you brand new FOX fork, or if you are a mechanic at a bike shop and need some information on small parts, this is the crew that answers the phone. One of the biggest things I noticed is that all of the customer service representatives here in Asheville are experts on bikes, they love riding bikes, and are extremely informed on the products.
It's really a big deal that these opportunities have become available here in Asheville, North Carolina. You can find additional cycling companies, such as Industry Nine and Cane Creek, in the same area, along with other outdoor powerhouse companies, like Eno hammocks. This city lives and breathes the outdoors, so it's great for a growing company like FOX to be part of such a passionate community.
Max Morgan is 26 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 9 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here!