When 16-year-old Zack Phillips started Kink Bikes in 1992, we’d be willing to bet that even he didn’t foresee the brand becoming as successful as it has.Now in its 13th year, Kink enjoys a huge following that extends from one end of the country to the other, and all over the world. We asked Zack about Kink’s early days, and what it’s like running a widely-respected brand that he built from the ground up.

This is “mean Zack” (the one showing you the snarl). Wondering where he came up with the name Kink? Keep reading (and don’t blame us for the disturbing mental picture you’re about to get).

Where did you come from and what’s your BMX background?
I came from my mom on October 7, 1976. Mark it on your calendar-I’m expecting presents! I did the normal stuff when I was real young: played ping-pong, water polo and played with a Frisbee. When I was in sixth grade I started skateboarding. I skated for a couple of years, then found biking. A friend of a friend gave me a Schwinn Predator. Another friend had land, so we built a track and dirt jumps at his house; it was so much fun. We also had really good trails called the “pines” in our town. 2B even did a dirt-jump contest there back in the day. When I turned 16 I moved out of my house and started Kink. I was riding a lot of street and breaking a lot of parts back then, and S&M and Standard were really the only ones around at the time. No one was making pegs.

When did you start Kink?
When I was 16; I remember sitting in my underpants on the couch and the name Kink coming to me, then calling Brad {McDonald} from Ride, probably sitting in his underpants answering the phone.

How long have you been there?
Since the beginning, but there were lots of starting points-walking into the machine shop, then a D.B.A., {Doing Business As – a way to get/become tax exempt and collect checks written to “Kink”, or any other alias} then a corporation – it’s been over 10 years. We will do some sort of anniversary thing someday…

What’s it like working there?
It’s real fun; everyday is a circus. Our new warehouse employee Matt Antes actually brought his monkey to work the other day; it was swinging rack-to-rack – that was awesome.

How much control do you have as to where the brand goes?
I would like to think a lot; we all talk about different types of ads and what type of message we are sending. The team also has a major impact on our image.

What was the first thing Kink made?
We started with axles and pegs.

What’s your “official title?”
Captain.

What are you responsible for?
Just about everything, or at least making sure everything gets done when it’s due. Mainly I oversee things and handle all the financial stuff.

How much input do you have on the product line?
Everyone’s input at Kink is equal and important.

How many times have you been to Taiwan?
I have been to Taiwan once; it was to help Rockstar Games make a bike for a promotion they were doing. It was real interesting going over there; I spent a week and toured a lot of factories, many of which were making BMX products.

Any formal education for what you’re doing now?
I really slipped through the cracks of grade school with lots of summer school. I got a 4.0 in one class called therapeutic touch, then I tried another class-basic accounting-and I dropped that. It was pretty good though because I got heath care for a year even though I dropped it.

Name some of the benefits about working there.
Free Kink parts and Red Bull, then cost on anything we distribute. We also have monthly eating contests. Matt {Antes} has won every month since he started working here almost two years ago. We are just hoping he is going to have an off day one of these contests, or get sick the day before.

What are the best/worst things about working there?
Not having an alarm clock is excellent, and coming into work and seeing your friends. The worst is letting a team member go; they’re like family.

What does a typical office day consist of?
I may only be at my desk an hour or so a day; I’m usually out and about-either at one of our makers or in someone else’s office talking about new products or an ad. I might also be in the warehouse getting parts ready to ship or shipping orders. Or taking orders from customers. Everything goes into my typical day and I love it.

How many weekends do you get to spend at home each year?
I am probably home only about 1/3 of the weekends a year, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my Silver Preferred status with US Air. I get first class check in and first class security screening. I just hope they don’t go out of business. If they do we have Jet Blue, which is awesome!

What are the hardest parts of your job?
I love what I do, so nothing is really hard. Sometimes people come up with wild ideas that we have to pass on, so that kind of stinks-like when one of the guys here wanted to get a lama. They just didn’t think about how much food they eat, so we had to pass.

When you look at various manufacturers in the industry, who comes to mind asa brand that’s doing things right?
There are a lot of cool companies that I like for lots of different reasons. Odyssey, T1, Tree, and Animal all have really good images. Hell on earth makes good clothing, and S&M is a well-oiled machine.

As far as other “industry professionals” go, is there anyone who impresses you? Anyone you look up to?
The guys from 2B really taught me a lot; both Hal Brindley and Steve Buddendeck were my mentors for different reasons. They both like to get wild, but they both get their work done. Marco at Props, and Brian Tunney are good guys in the industry…

Name three professional goals you’d like to accomplish this year.
Our sales have increased every year since the start, so continuing our sales growth, winning the xtremmy awards {basically the Emmy’s for action sports} for “Cheap Thrills”, and expanding our product line.

Where do you see the BMX industry headed?
I really think everything is going down the innovation/style path; everyone is thinking about and taking more time to come out with real quality parts with style in mind. Currently there are 50-plus companies making sprockets and 100-plus making t-shirts-that’s the challenge facing BMX companies.