the s&m connection
Crupi's owner Greg Scott Swingover was the Co-Founding S of SnM. Here is an interview with Jeff from Ride BMX Magazine that tells it all! - January 17th, 2007
How did you and Chris Moeller initially meet?
I moved to the So Cal area to go to college and started to get back into riding. I was working at South Coast bike shop in Santa Ana which made getting back into riding easier. I started meeting other riders at the local trails like Danny Millwee and Kevin Hull who were both big time Factory riders. They thought I was good and that I should meet this other kid who was really good named Chris Moeller. Everyone talked about Chris being this crazy and fearless rider and so I was dying to meet him. Finally, he showed up at the local trails I was riding at and it seemed that we were both trying to out ride the other, but Chris clearly was the better rider and I was in awe. Thus, we became friends so we could go riding together.
How old were you when you guys started S&M? And why did you decide to start a company at such a young age when most teenagers are preoccupied with riding their bikes?
I was 20 and I think Chris was 16. Chris was testing bikes for BMX Action magazine and I was working at the bike shop so we both got to see lots of different bikes. That was in the mid 80’s and at that time, there was only race frames and freestyle frames and nothing specific to dirt jumping which is what we both loved doing. Dirt jumping back then wasn’t even a category of BMX; it’s just what all the racers did when they weren’t racing. We both felt that there could be a lot of improvement on existing frames to make them good for both racing and jumping and it just turned into Chris and me sitting at his kitchen table and designing a frame that we both loved. What better way to insure that we could ride everyday then by starting our own company where we could! Our philosophy at the time was why buy a bike from a fat guy who sits behind a desk all day and has never ridden a BMX bike when you can buy one from a couple of guys who will go riding with you? It worked!
Describe each of your roles within the company.
Since Chris was still in High School, his job was mainly to promote which he was great at. My job was the day to day business which I would do at night after I got home from my regular job. Chris was really well known as his picture was all over the magazines so just having him out there riding and doing the crazy things he was known for really gave S&M a popular following.
How do you think S&M influenced the BMX industry, as far as being rider owned and American made?
When I look back at it, I think S&M was a big influence as it gave a lot of guys the feeling that they could do it too. I remember when Ron Bonner of UGP called and asked us questions about starting a company and look what he has done! Bikes made in Taiwan today are much better but back then, 90% of the bikes available were Taiwan crap and couldn’t hold up for those who were pushing the limits of riding. Better quality and made in America wasn’t as much a selling feature but more of a necessity at the time for our type of riding. Even though there were some decent American made bikes at the time, they were made by the bigger companies which made rider owned brands really cool.
How do you think S&M's punk rockish and DIY style has influenced BMX?
I’m going to have to credit Chris with S&M’s style. When we first started, it was all about being funny and coming up with frame names that would make our friends laugh. Our magazine advertisements were really out there and in some cases offensive. Some of them may even be offensive to today’s standards but that is what we did to get people talking about us. We knew there was no such thing as bad publicity and that’s the angle we pushed!
A lot of what we did was a joke and we had a great time doing it. S&M couldn’t afford to send Chris everywhere to race like some of the bigger companies did with their riders so Chris started this whole “poor and broke” thing which made everyone laugh. He started putting mixed colors of parts on his bike because “it was all he could afford” and then everyone started doing it. Whatever Chris did, everyone else wanted to do and it just took off. Chris was just being Chris and it turned out to be a cult thing in a way.
Why did you leave S&M?
I was married and my daughter Brittney was just about to be born so my attention was going in other directions. By this time, my regular day job was working for GT Bicycles while still running S&M at night. My ideas and style were now being influenced by my position at GT and Chris was just against the whole “corporate thing” in every way so we started to argue about things which just took the fun out of it. We were also having some financial troubles and had to borrow money from Chris’s Mom so just to get myself out of the debt we were in, we split what ever we had and I told Chris he could have it.
Did you ever imagine the company would go this far?
Not in a million years. I thought after Chris and I called it quits that the company would just become another 1 hit wonder company. But Chris had other plans and the intelligence to pull it off. He’s the man!
What is your fondest memory of your involvement with S&M?
I have several. I think back often to the fun of it all and the riding because that is what we were all about when it started. We never thought about the future, just the now and it was a blast. When Chris and I split, I never left the industry but because I was working behind the scenes at GT, nobody knew what happened to me. Today, people know me as the Crupi guy but when they find out that I was the “S” of S&M, they treat my like a rock star and I get a kick out of that. I’m really focused on my company now but often I will see someone riding down the street on an S&M bike and it gives me a sense of pride in knowing that I was part of that company and that the S in the logo is still me. I’m really proud of Chris and where he has taken the company we both started.