Business in booming for K&K Karts.
A project dreamed and developed by Kevin Barrick in 2011 to introduce his own version of a competitive four-cycle chassis at a low market price is now a busy reality. Teamed up with some great drivers, the brand has won ASN Canadian National Karting Championships, Eastern Canadian Karting Championships and club racing championships across the Briggs & Stratton LO206 spectrum and this has caught the eyes on many south of the border where the LO206 program is beginning taking off. Barrick has been very busy this off-season arranging new dealers, ordering chassis’, setting up a distribution network and all around preparing for what will be the busiest season of his karting business career.
On top of the success in Eastern Canada, a K&K Kart topped the 2016 annual rankings of the Briggs Weekly Series (WRS) courtesy of Alberta’s Skylar Dunning and his competitive results in his home province. For Barrick, these results are a motivation to have Dunning compete at the National level in 2017, ideally for the Canadian Championship at Mosport. But on top of it, K&K Karts ventured into the USA last year and now courtesy of a partnership with SSC Karting, the first order of karts for 2017 is sold out and a second order is already in the works.
A big demand from the K&K West dealer will also see the introduction of a K&K Kart Shifter package this year. While not a personal passion for Barrick, it is something he is excited about.
And while there is plenty of business going on around North America for K&K Karts, Barrick is still focused on the job at hand in Eastern Canada, specifically his home province of Ontario where he aims for more championships and potentially back-to-back National titles for Jamie MacArthur and K&K Karts in the Briggs Masters category.
“We are now partnered with Gary Zarbo of SSC Karting and from what I understand he has sold out of K&K Karts before he has even received them and will be ordering more.“
Having cut his winter break to Florida short in order to manage the business back home, Barrick snuck in a few minutes to chat with us about the busy business of K&K Karts.
We’ve heard you’ve been very busy this winter, how has business been for K&K Karts?
Kevin Barrick (KB): Yes. I have been very busy this off season with K&K. I initially entered into the K&K kart venture 6 years ago as an ongoing passion for the sport, but it has now grown exponentially into a full time business for me. With the addition of of the K&K West conglomerate and well known SSC Karting in St. Louis, our first USA K&K dealer, the orders have gone through the roof. K&K Kart is projecting to sell 150 chassis’ in 2017 in North America. Dealing with Italy, logistics, brokerage, shipping, billing and just getting all the details right is time consuming, and I can tell you very stressful. Then, you have to make sure they are winning on the track. That is a whole other story. Things have grown so much this year that I had to cut short my annual Florida stay from four months to two, just to deal with it.
There has been plenty of interest in the kart outside of your home province of Ontario, where are you setting up dealers?
KB: There has been considerable interest in K&K from the USA for the past few years. The top kart shops have followed our Canadian results and we have had numerous dealership inquiries. I can honestly tell you over the last two years we have had to turn away a number of USA opportunities, simply because we were not ready. Just recently, with the diligent work of Lorne Kelly, a K&K partner, we have been able to set up USA shipping channels, customs & brokerage and even a warehouse in St. Louis. We are now partnered with Gary Zarbo of SSC Karting and from what I understand he has sold out of K&K Karts before he has even received them and will be ordering more.
On the Canadian front, the newly formed full service K&K West conglomerate has expanded and picked up on the success of RK Kartsport, the initial western K&K dealer. In Quebec, Jean Doyon maintains the K&K presence under the K&K Quebec banner. K&K Direct is run by me personally and handles all Ontario based sales, dealer inquiries, as well as the K&K Family race team and the Snakepit, my favorite part!
“I am looking forward to another fun, safe, successful year with not only with the loyal, long time K&K regulars, but all the many new people that have taken the leap of faith and joined the K&K Family for 2017.“
Skylar Dunning proved the kart well in Western Canada last year, earning the title of Briggs Weekly Series #1. How does that feel to add to the K&K Kart resume?
KB: Skylar certainly did K&K Kart proud by winning many Championships out west in 2016, including the Briggs Weekly Racing Series that had about 3400 competitors North American wide. While Skylar certainly is an incredible driver, we were very happy that he was able to demonstrate just how well the K&K Cobra OTB, with a baseline set up, Out of the Box will work something K&K really strives for. We are hoping Skylar can attend the 2017 ASN Canadian Nationals at Mosport this year to try and repeat the Briggs LO206 Senior title won by K&K in 2015.
What is next on the K&K Kart agenda? What is a race or title you would like your product to win?
KB: K&K will be expanding their cost effective grass roots Briggs specific program this year by testing the waters with K&K West and the very established KZ/Shifter market out there. The new 2017 K&K Viper KZ/Shifter brings the same cost/performance parameters to the table that the Cobra OTB 4cycle has for the past six years. We will be watching the market development over the year, to see if we will release it here in the east. As far as titles go, any repeats of our many CRFKC, ECKC and National titles would be great. One in specific would be Jamie MacArthur defending his 2016 CDN National Briggs LO206 Masters title, which would make him the first 3-time National Briggs LO206 Champion.
You have introduced a new sticker kit design for 2017. What stands out to you about it?
KB: Yes. I have to give a big thank you to Mary Vincec at The Decal Zone and Stuart Drummond for coming up with this great new design. It is by far the best looking, most exciting K&K design to date. It’s biggest pluses are the bright colors that pop and most noticeably the snakeskin/honeycomb underlay that brings it all alive. Developing this great working partnership with The Decal Zone now makes it very easy for K&K owners to get replacement sets directly from them. I can’t wait to see the new look on track.
In closing, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?
KB: Pretty simple. I am looking forward to another fun, safe, successful year with not only with the loyal, long time K&K regulars, but all the many new people that have taken the leap of faith and joined the K&K Family for 2017. We will all work together to achieve an enjoyable and successful year. And as usual, K&K Kart will contribute any way they can, to benefit the sport and events. That’s why I do this!
Thank you Cody for taking the time to make this interview possible.