TALK IT UP TUESDAY: JD Mora
Tuesday, Apr 28, 2015 11:59pm
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
I remember meeting JD Mora briefly while he worked at HPI Racing, but it wasn’t until he moved into his role with LRP America - and began traveling around the U.S. to support the brand’s team drivers - that I had the opportunity to hang out with him. It has been interesting watching LRP grow in the U.S. market as hobbyists learn to associate the brand with more than just speed controls, and it’s all through the efforts of LRP America’s small staff and team. Like many who make a living in RC, Mora’s road to the dream of turning one’s hobby into a career has taken a couple of turns, and you too can learn more about that path in this Talk It Up Tuesday interview.
Aaron Waldron: How did you get started in radio control?
JD Mora: When I was 18 years old, I bought my friend's HPI Nitro RS4. At the time, it was one of the few nitro sedans that was easy to obtain parts for and you could upgrade it to be race-worthy. There was a hobby shop in Dana Point where I lived that had weekly parking lot races, and I entered a few here and there. I stopped completely after high school and focused on starting my career path in management. I got back into it after settling down with my wife in Mission Viejo, and then I heard from my friends about OCRC Raceway and how brushless technology had changed the industry so much. I haven’t looked back since.
AW: When did you get your first job in the RC industry?
JM: My first job in the industry was with HPI in their customer service department. I had just come from over ten years of working as an assistant manager in a movie theatre. I wanted to try something different, and looked into the hobby that I loved. In less than four months I was moved into their R&D department as a product tester, performing quality control checks to make sure that HPI products were the best in the industry.
AW: How did you become involved with LRP America?
JM: I worked at HPI for about a year and a half, but I was one of those who was let go during a round of budget cuts. A few months went by before I was approached by Shawn Ireland asking if I would like to help start up a new distribution office with LRP America. I was excited to take the opportunity as I would be involved in a great brand and company.
AW: What is your position within the company, and what are some of your responsibilities?
JM: LRP America is a relatively new operation, so with that comes many responsibilities for one person. I mainly focus on customer service, technical support, team management, web design, and a little bit of marketing with running the Facebook page and other forms of media. I also help LRP Germany in their R&D department on testing new products for the US market.
JD's desk is always very busy - good thing he has two extra monitors to read the latest news on LiveRC's home page and watch streaming races!
AW: Did you know before taking the job that you’d have the opportunity to travel with the team?
JM: At first it was going to be more of an office job, as they had someone else in mind for the Team Manager role. But once they started seeing me in the field at events like the IFMAR Electric Off-Road Worlds in Chico, the company decided to keep me in that capacity.
AW: Do you get to race more or less often now than you did before?
JM: I have backed off a little in the club racing scene as I have had to focus my time on events that require travel. I do still like to race and visit my home track OCRC. My son, Mikey, is almost 5, and I want to get him going to the track with me. He loves playing VRC and is getting good at it.
JD found time to win the Electric 1/8-Scale Buggy class at this year's April Fools Classic.
AW: Do you think that your racing past was essential to succeed in your current role?
JM: I think so. I think racing brings together good people and contacts come from it. If you have the passion it shows and people take note of it.
AW: What part of LRP America’s potential growth is most exciting to you?
JM: LRP is known in the U.S. for speed controls and motors. Being able to show consumers the wide range of products that LRP has to offer other than just speed controls and motors is fun for me, as I am also able to test and check out these awesome products. It’s like Christmas for me every other week.
AW: LRP America recently brought in a whole slew of products that are new to the U.S. market. What do you think is the coolest single item?
JM: I think the LRP Super Shorty LiPo battery is amazing. To be able to position the battery in any car with any configuration opens new doors for racers to make even better weight bias changes. It also would be cool to take a 1/10-scale off-road buggy, strap two packs together, and see if we can break some speed and jump records. :)
AW: What’s something that a lot of your US customer base may not know about LRP?
JM: LRP has a full line of off-road vehicles in RTR and Pro configurations. LRP's first passion is racing, and it shows with an RTR line full of option parts that you might not see on others. For example, with the Twister line of 2WD cars, you can get aluminum hubs and carbon fiber parts and turn your RTR into a race-worthy buggy or truck. Also, I never knew how many bashers are using the LRP line of engines. I get more calls from happy engine customers than any other product segment.
AW: In your opinion, how healthy is the industry right now? Do you think that RC racing is heading in the right or wrong direction? Why?
JM: To be honest, it’s still hard to say. I think racing is on the rise and more people are going. The problem is that the hobby’s retention of these new customers is very short. You have to find ways to get them to keep coming back. Return customers are hard to come by as we are in the age of instant gratification. For every ten new customers, only two stay in the hobby. And fewer than that stay in it for the long haul.
AW: When you’re not at the office or racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
JM: I’m a geek, plan and simple. This year I am a Star Wars geek, and I collect what I can from Legos, to Metal Earth statues that you can build. This year I have even submitted my collection to fairs for display. I think I have over a grand in Lego Star Wars. Also Jason Snyder from Short Course World made me a Darth Vader Lego head from his 3D Printer!
But by far my favorite thing to do is hang out with my wife Amanda and awesome boy Mikey. They are my world and something that can never be replaced.
Father and son having fun at RCX.
AW: What is your favorite part of working in the RC industry?
JM: Racing, being competitive and hanging out and meeting great people. I have made many friends and love making new ones. I love to surround myself with good people and be diverse and RC has made that happen.
AW: Is there anything about making your hobby into your career that you weren’t prepared for?
JM: Not really. With my past employment I was ready to make the change. I like change and am willing to try new things all the time as long as it’s not too crazy. I consider myself a jack of all trades and master of none, but that is ok with me. I don’t like just doing one thing and that it, sounds boring to me.
AW: Thank you so much!
JM: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. All I can say is if you have a passion go for it. Don’t look back and don’t let people hold you back. And if they do, then they are not true friends. Oh and see you guys at Star Wars VII. Going to be epic!