Randy Rodgers of Medford welds the front-axle housing for an unlimited class rock buggy designed for rock crawling at Trail Tough Products Friday. - Jamie Lusch

Homegrown: Trail Tough Products

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Brent Bradshaw speaking) We manufacture parts primarily for Suzuki vehicles for the off-road community. We ship them worldwide and have been doing it for 10 years.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I've lived here for 42 years, moving here from Riverside, Calif., and graduated from Medford Senior High School. Linda graduated from Crater High School.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? It was a hobby that got out of hand. I owned a copier company and was dabbling in Samurai parts. I mostly started building parts just to support the local guys that had needs for their vehicles. People wanted what we were making, so I started a Web page and rapidly hadto move from a home-operated business to a full shop. I had no idea it was such a big world out there. Word got out and spread like wildfire and we had more business than I could handle and I ended up selling the copying company.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I wish I had a little more education in the marketing and promotion part of the business. Catalog design was an issue. We did it the best way we knew how and we still do.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? To commit to a larger facility and a more expensive lease payment. It felt like a large risk or gamble. We rented a shop that was too small on North Central Avenue for about six months. We've been here for about nine years. The primary shop is about 1,600 square feet and we have a 1,200-square-foot building as well. We've expanded about four times.

Who are your competitors? We have a competitor in Park City, Utah, Rocky Road Outfitters. In Bakersfield, Calif., there is Calmini Products.

What are your goals? If it's working, I'm not going to fix it. We have a very niche market. We also compete professionally in rock crawling and we build those extreme buggies also. We maybranch more into the compet-itive market as well. When it comes to parts, I come up withthe concept and employ a full-time engineer, Randy Rogers, who designs them. We're supplying parts for vehicles that are 22 years old and still have a good market. We don't know how the market will change, but we have other avenues for competition-scale vehicles as well.

What training or education did you need? High school and a lifelong mechanical aptitude with a background in racing and automotive interest. One of our customers thought it was such a great niche and market and was excited about helping us out. He designed and hosted our Web page for about eight years for no charge.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Have lots of background and experience in the field you intend to pursue and work in that field for a time before you try to establish your own business. Finance as little as possible.

To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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