Spanos Barber Jesse & Co. Invests in Troy Lee Designs and Announces New CEO

Dec 8, 2016
by Pinkbike Staff  
Brandon Semenuk

WALNUT CREEK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Spanos Barber Jesse & Co. (“SBJ”), a private investment firm with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas, announced that it has completed an investment in Troy Lee Designs (“TLD”), a leading provider of off-road motorcycling and mountain biking gear and apparel based in Corona, California. Founder, Chairman and Chief Design Officer, Troy Lee, has retained a significant ownership stake in the company and continues to lead TLD’s design efforts.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Troy and SBJ as we work to unlock the brand’s full potential while remaining true to its heritage.”

Troy Lee began customizing helmets as a young motocross racer and turned that passion into a business that is renowned worldwide for its innovative styling and designs worn by “the world’s fastest racers”. TLD produces cutting edge helmets, protective equipment and performance driven apparel sold through independent dealers, international distributors and online retailers, including the company’s website. The company also sponsors successful professional supercross and motocross teams as well as leading mountain biking riders.

“It is a privilege to partner with Troy and to be entrusted with helping him realize his vision for growing the company,” said Tom Barber, Managing Director at SBJ. “Troy is a design legend and has built a truly exceptional brand, having earned the trust and respect of the best racers in the world as well as racing enthusiasts for over 30 years. We look forward to working with Troy to protect and build on that legacy.”

In addition, TLD has named Dave Bertram as Chief Executive Officer. Dave previously served as Founding Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Cycle Gear, the largest multi-channel retailer of apparel, parts and accessories for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in the U.S. Under his leadership, Cycle Gear grew from a local retailer with three locations to a national chain with 112 stores in 34 states. Dave also enjoyed a 10-year career as a professional motorcycle racer where he won two National Titles, five International Gold Medals and 10 state championships. “I have always admired Troy and the TLD brand,” said Dave. “I’m thrilled to partner with Troy and SBJ as we work to unlock the brand’s full potential while remaining true to its heritage.”

“Over the years I’ve thought a lot about how to build my business and am absolutely stoked about the partnership with SBJ and Dave,” said Troy. “SBJ provides us with the financial support and strategic expertise that we need to take TLD to the next level. And Dave brings a wealth of operating experience to help us tighten up our execution, which will help us serve our suppliers and customers even better and enable us to develop more of the awesome products we are known for.”

TLD memorabilia at the pop up store in Whistler.

About Troy Lee Designs
For over 30 years, Troy Lee has been customizing helmets “For The World’s Fastest Racers”. TLD’s relentless commitment to creating products that exceed the cutting edge of style, design and quality, has earned them the reputation as an innovator in many different fields of racing. Troy Lee Designs offers a complete line of helmets, apparel and premium protection for off-road motorcycling and bicycling, sportswear and accessories, and operates the TLD supercross and motocross teams. For more information, please visit

About Spanos Barber Jesse & Co.
Spanos Barber Jesse & Co. manages a private investment fund with over $200 million of committed capital from offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas. SBJ invests in lower middle-market consumer, business services and healthcare services companies. SBJ has the flexibility to invest equity or debt in control or non-control situations to finance buyouts, recapitalizations, acquisitions and growth. Founded by a team of professionals with over 75 years of experience growing companies as investors, executives and advisors, SBJ draws on extensive operating experience and domain expertise to support the strategic goals of its partner companies. For more information, please visit



  • 162 3
 Hey Pinkbike friends,
What this investment will bring to TLD, is that I finally get to study the pinkbike comments at 11:30 at night on a Saturday! haha

But really, it's just as it says in that PR, I was lucky enough to find the right partnership in taking my business to another level. After 35 years of painting, designing, testing, racing, crashing, partying, prototyping and more, I reached a place with this business that I never dreamed possible-thanks to all of you, my customers, athletes, employees and friends. Running a business isn't easy, there are times that I get so bogged down with running the business that it's hard to stay focused on why I got into this, so I needed some help to service you all better and SBJ was certainly the right partner.

I am certainly not going anywhere, not in the slightest! I can now focus on working with my team here, traveling to more events, painting and designing more, riding my bike more, getting out with trail builders to see more of how they make MTB culture alive and prosper, prototype more and get back to the bike and moto community even more than I have, which is why I started TLD. This will also give me a chance to really listen to what my past, present and future customers want in their gear and get it to more places around the world in a timely manner.

For my athletes we work with, this is going to be one of the best parts about it, instead of not having the time to focus on their special requests or ideas because I have to sit in a meeting with the bank about currency rates, etc, I can work with our team to make the best stuff 'for the worlds fastest racers'...that works for older dudes like me too!

As always, I can't thank you all enough for how kind you've been to me and the brand all these years, the best is yet to come, I am super stoked man!

Peace and wheelies,
Troy Lee
  • 57 21
 Does that mean that you could consider sponsoring a troll? I'm the best!
  • 18 1
 Thanks for taking the time to write this, that's why we all love TLD. Please continue with the outrageous designs, excited to see the cool stuff that'll come as a result of this!
  • 16 16
 @WAKIdesigns: I would be interested to see TLD do a custom WAKIdesigns helmet.
  • 38 3
 @twhart20: I wouldnt
  • 1 1
 @Earthmotherfu: From a design perspective it is open to some interesting limitations... but that might be the Art professor in me speaking and not the mountain biker. meh
  • 16 19
 @twhart20: if I could cooperate with Troy Lee the legend, in making a paintjob for D3 which I consider the nicest looking fullface of all time, I'd be over the moon. It would be like riding with Emily Batty... oh sht I went there again. Nah honestly, no lube involved here, nicest helmets gloves and shorts in my opinion.

I can draw one, why not? Big Grin
  • 9 17
flag talaskinos (Dec 11, 2016 at 7:46) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: lets make a poll for troy lee allowing wakiD3sign to make a helmet!!! Go wakidesigns!!!
  • 1 6
flag Husker2112 (Dec 11, 2016 at 11:05) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: You mean your the 2nd best Smile
  • 4 14
flag zyx8910 (Dec 11, 2016 at 12:03) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns:I've lost all respect for this site because they let you write articles.I pray that Troy Lee new investors tell you to stick to trolling.
  • 6 16
flag WAKIdesigns (Dec 11, 2016 at 12:15) (Below Threshold)
 @zyx8910: your respect is surely worth a lot
  • 2 8
flag Earthmotherfu (Dec 11, 2016 at 12:40) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: yeah but your banger waki keep killing it like...Smile
  • 1 7
flag twhart20 (Dec 11, 2016 at 13:48) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: lol I said it would be interesting if HE designed the whole if he were inspired by you... It could be an epic way to troll the troll...

With the politics of mountain biking so pervasive on these forums and with so much direct feedback from producer and consumer, why not have something bike oriented that denies the utility and purpose of the activity? I think it is good to produce anything that forces us to ask more questions about how we spend our time. I love mountain biking for many reasons, but one value I am sure most of us share "including WAKI" is the ability to feel creative and free, to think alternatively about my time while on my bike. Exactly what WAKIdesigns does on these forums...
  • 3 5
 @twhart20: I am not worthy. No troll is. But I wonder if negprop squad can get sponsored for negpropping? How inspiring to click on. negprop button. I often wonder what motivates people to go around the site and click prop buttons...
  • 5 1
 @WAKIdesigns: your a nascicist fraud waki , you was probably about to go into one of your silly ( try to wind everyone up ) rants then The thought of a waki lee designs signature helmet popped up in your head ! Roll another on and go back to sleep ! Hehe
  • 2 2
 @twhart20: what a load of poppeycock !
  • 1 0
 I'm just here for the peanut butter.
  • 3 3
 @Boardlife69: here's the finest choice of peanut butter
  • 1 0
 Silly little request - are there any plans for more flexible paint on visors? I've been running TLD lids forever and this is my only complaint with the current ones. Small tumbles cause the paint to crack and shatter away unlike the visor itself which is far more flexible. Surely this can be improved.
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: meh, if you take out any mention of WAKI in my little statement, I think there is still good stuff there. I understand the neg props I guess... I would like to think that outside of gear wars, wheel wars, and geo wars, there is something more poetic about life on a bike. Apparently there is no room for WAKI in that space?
  • 1 0
 @twhart20: sorry for bad comment , waki put me in a sarcastic mood and I should have gone back to bed ! Wink
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: Don't you think I am worthy of having a signature helmet from TLD?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: mr lee could be bend over doing some retirement home research and have You licking his ar.........behind ! Lol . I'd buy it !!
  • 1 2
 @Matt115lamb: I don't despise you just because you are a tool that chimed in hoping for making the world a better place by being a dick to someone. I despise you because you are an old tool and in this day and age of access to information about many things, among them: human behavior standards and comedy, you just have no excuse to be one. I would not even piss on you. Ev... excuse me... Especially if you were on fire.

Have a great evening
  • 1 0
 I'm 45. i wear jet black Troy lee outfit with flouro gloves,helmet and shoes. Am I an old tool ? Be honest now, cause I reckon I look ten years younger in it . I'd love to be 35 again, the pinnacle of physical fitness and mental prowess..Wink
  • 2 1
 @Earthmotherfu: be honest, what did you do to appear as a tool?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: errrrr sign on pinkbike? No,I'm just abit bored really.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: that's abit harsh pal , didn't mean to bring on a psychosis episode !
  • 64 0
 Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I always worry at these type of announcements.
  • 6 16
flag meesterover (Dec 10, 2016 at 18:45) (Below Threshold)
 That is how you spin a hostile takeover.
  • 3 4
 I don't know how to feel about this either
  • 8 2
 @meesterover: you need share holders for a hostile takeover
  • 7 1
 I guess they can't really 'expand' because they're available in lots of countries and in high quantities. So with more investment I see it possibly either getting more R&D to come up with new 'technologies' and becoming more expensive, or being produced on a larger scale so there are styling less options or to a lower quality standard. I really hope I'm wrong. I had a D3 from two or three years ago that I broke in a crash earlier this year. That was an amazing fit. I replaced it with a '16 model and it's even more comfortable now with the slight tweaks to the shape inside. I can't imagine ever being so comfortable in any other full face.
  • 42 2
 @meesterover: It was as hostile as a calendar of kittens. Wink
  • 22 0
 @lukachadwick: While we do have a lot of great international partners, we are still under distributed world-wide, so that will improve and the R&D growth already has been rapid, we already have a bunch of bitchin stuff in the pipeline that I am super excited about. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 @troyleedesigns: well that is good because I like your stuff. Maybe I am sensitively paranoid as the bank just ousted the entire board where I am currently working.
  • 26 1
 So long as their products are still good, I don't really care
  • 7 1
 dang i need to stop tootin that pipe geez
  • 19 0
 Troy Lee reading comments and replying on Pinkbike is one of the reasons why he will always have great designs and products. He is always in touch with his customers and does his best to understand their needs. Many designers (and companies) are too often lost in focus group data and market research, forgetting to actually immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle of their customers.

Good luck to TLD in this new venture, and I hope to see more of you in my part of the world!
  • 6 0
 11:30 on Pinkbike >> 3:00 am on Twitter
  • 19 2
 Too Lee himself deserves his payout and probably wants to not be so dang busy. Well done, American dream acheived making rad things to get rad on while wearing.
  • 3 0
 This. Happy retirement fund!
  • 11 0
 Change the volume but please don't change the formula. It could be a very great partnership or could become a tragedy.
  • 7 1
 It´s always about the money, this business is not an NGO. He´s cashing out, a %, after all those years, it´s about time to start thinking on that bungalow in Thailand. A PE (private equity) fund is not there just for the fun or the heritage or to create synergies, they love money, they eat money, so they wanna see results, they want a ROI asap, they want to create "growth", make their fund´s stock more valuable, return money to their investors, and the list goes on. They will certainly start looking at the books, material costs, production costs, R&D costs, transportation, employees, margins, squeeze here, squeeze there, try to get new deals with the manufacturers in mainland China or Taiwan.... in a couple of years they will buy a higher % in TLD for sure. This is how this game is played, it´ business.
  • 1 0
 Well summarised and spot on. I work with PE investors in retail. Done well, the business grows rapidly reaching more customers, benefits from the management expertise the PE provides, running costs are reduced and efficiencies found, all without losing sight of the important things that made it a great business in the first place, everyone wins. Done badly, the PE's relentless pursuit of ROI affects every aspect of the business, customers notice, staff notice and once the high of the initial payout has passed, founders are left frustrated and disillusioned at the loss of control of a business they put their heart and soul into building. I hope the former applies to TLD and it goes from strength to strength.
  • 9 4
 Well that's the end of TLD as we know it. Been a nice run. Whenever corporate "teams" lay their hands on this kind of stuff quality plummets in order to maximize profits. Sad.
  • 5 0
 gonna wait and see..hope things don't go south (pun intended). i use their stuff
but big/more $$ doesn't always play well out for core products when companys merge.
  • 6 2
 I feel the same way. We've all seen too many companies attempt to 'realize their potential' by means of shifting to low quality products produced abroad and riding the former namesake all the way to the bank. A prime example of this is the Canadian ski brand - Line skis. They were 'invested' by K2 while former company founder maintained his role as director or whatever, followed by Line skis being produced in K2s asian factory and suffering delamination issues for years to come. I owned four pairs of Line skis produced before and after the K2-purchase; I now ski on Monent Skis produced in Reno, NV.
  • 11 4
 TLD coming soon to a Walmart near you
  • 3 1
  • 4 2
 If you are going to expand product lines and push sales you need capital. Hard to accumulate capital for this expansion while developing products and paying staff and founders. So you need money people. This is what is happening. Besides Troy probably want a break from the grind of DTD operations. That shit wears you down. Could be a very good thing.
  • 2 0
 “I’m thrilled to partner with Troy and SBJ as we work to unlock the brand’s full potential while remaining true to its heritage.”

Who is this quote attributed too? Who is the third party who is partnering with troy and sbj?
  • 6 2
 cheapo moto retail chain guy, as the new boss, how does that bode for TLD bicycle brand? yikes.
  • 4 3
 Channel connections and experience bro
  • 3 2
 So, prices and selection will likely increase, but quality and customer service will inevitably decrease? You would have thought Troy Lee already had sufficient market saturation for their niche. Would be nice if the cash injection could have come from within (senior employees) so the profits can stay with people in the industry rather than some private equity fund solely driven by higher profits... Oh well, sounds like someone's cashing out and that's the bottom line. Can't say I blame them, but doesn't mean I have to respect it.
  • 3 0
 @troyleedesigns I don't really care what everyone is saying but I do think that is great you coming on and being a person and not just a brand, nice to see. Good skills man.
  • 2 0
 stop, look and listen, and youll be..... king of the road (try saying that uk fans without hedgehog imagery in your head attempting to cross a road)
  • 3 0
 D3 are damn good helmets... saved my mife mid september , thanks again Smile ))) )))))
  • 1 0
 Can we see a stop to the knock off TLD kit coming from China. I believe including myself many people are being ripped off with fakes from various sellers on Ebay. Loving the kit thought and good luck on your new adventures.
  • 3 1
 Hopefully they make more functional, casual looking riding gear; hybrids shorts are a bit short.
  • 6 2
 The rise of 100%
  • 1 0
 @troy lee designs Since time is available, you and Stik pack your bags and come let me show you around Pisgah. Beer City USA Asheville/Brevard. Call me.
  • 2 0
 Congrats Troy, sounds like good things are to come!
  • 4 3
 No big deal - ya gotta crew up to stay up.
  • 3 2
 Hopefully this pulls TLD out the rut they have been in for a few years.
  • 11 0
 they're in a rut?
  • 2 1
 I hope prices don't go up from what they're already like Eek
  • 1 0
 Congrats Troy and congrats TLD!
  • 1 0
 Peace and wheelies forever...
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns Congrats on becoming a multimillionaire!
  • 2 2
 Let's just hope TLD doesn't end up going the way Fox racing Shox has!!!
  • 2 4
 @NotDannyHart: I meant sacrificing product longevity for the sake of investor profit.
  • 1 0
 Peace and Wheelies...
  • 8 9
 Zero comments mean nobody understands WTF. Good luck TLD anyway!
  • 9 1
 basically means investment company purchased a stake in the company for cash. Allowing for TLD to potentially grow in size if done right.
  • 10 2
 Yeah, it really isn't that complicated at all.
  • 3 4
 In other words, TLD had financial problems too.
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