Ninja Mountain Bike Performance Taps Into Klamath IDEA Resource Network
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance was formed in 2010 by then-professional mountain bike racer, Richard La China. He used the knowledge acquired over his many years of racing to offer mountain biking skills clinics and help other riders feel stronger and more controlled on their bikes. The skills clinics became very popular, and demand quickly grew. In the years since, Ninja Mountain Bike Performance has become the largest mountain bike skills instruction company in North America. They offer more than 1,000 clinics annually across the United States—training riders of any ability, from beginners looking to gain confidence to experienced riders ready to tackle advanced technical terrain.
In 2018, Richard and his fiancé Hannah moved Ninja Mountain Bike Performance from Southern California to Chiloquin, Oregon. At the time, the company still employed just Richard and Hannah, plus a network of contractors across the US to lead the skills clinics. One of Ninja’s most popular clinics was (and still is) a half-day jumping clinic where riders learn how to safely jump their mountain bike. To help teach riders to jump, Ninja uses several different styles of jump ramps. Inevitably, at the end of every clinic, students would ask where they could purchase these ramps so they could continue practicing and developing their skills. In response, Ninja entered a private label agreement with a European manufacturer and began importing a line of mountain bike jump ramps. In 2021, Ninja began selling this line of ramps online. Like the clinics, the ramps quickly grew in popularity, but as sales increased, the supply chain became more and more unreliable through the COVID-19 pandemic. Richard decided it was necessary to bring the manufacturing in house, and Ninja started designing and engineering their own line of jump ramps and accessories.
Manufacturing was a new endeavor for Richard and Hannah, and they were relatively new to southern Oregon. They were not aware of what resources were available in the area to help them, but fortunately Ninja Mountain Bike and Klamath IDEA, a member of Business Oregon’s ROI community, found each other. With that start, Klamath IDEA was able to connect Ninja Mountain Bike with other resource providers that soon resulted in a lease agreement that allowed them to begin manufacturing ramps.
“We were first connected with Larry Holzgang from Business Oregon through Klamath IDEA,” Hannah said, adding that she knew his “wealth of knowledge, connections and resources was going to be a huge asset for our company. […] In the year since we first connected, Klamath IDEA, the Klamath SBDC office and Business Oregon have been instrumental in connecting Ninja with the resources we’ve needed to sustainably grow and scale our business.”
The initial lease arrangement was short term, and as it neared time for renewal, it was again time to reassess their plans for manufacturing the ramps. With the growing demand for ramps, Ninja Mountain Bikes realized the existing building and equipment were not going to keep up. They needed a larger facility and higher capacity CNC routers to meet demand for the ramps. Richard found a suitable building in Klamath Falls to purchase, and he acquired new CNC production equipment through a lease. However, the building still needed upgrades to accommodate manufacturing, and the combined cost of everything was stretching the company’s working capital beyond comfort. Business Oregon was able to bring some relief by helping to upgrade the electrical system through the Small Business Sustainability Fund.
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance has grown from two employees in 2021 to nine employees—primarily due to manufacturing the ramps in house. The company’s revenue is also growing exponentially. Although the transition has been a little stressful, onshoring the production of the ramps has proven to be successful for Ninja Mountain Bike Performance and great for the community as a whole.
“We are incredibly excited to expand our operations in Klamath Falls with our own manufacturing equipment and facility,” said Richard. “Klamath Falls has proven to be a wonderful place to grow our business, and we are committed to helping create more jobs locally and support the growth of Oregon’s economy.”
By Business Oregon
A state agency