Alright – I saw some stuff on the internet fairly recently that honestly saddened me to my core.  Maybe some of you guys saw it to… it was the whole Skunk2 fiasco.  Basically – if you missed it, you’re better off, but here’s the gist:  a couple of forum guys decided that they wanted to try and bring down Skunk2, by ‘exposing’ that some of their parts are made overseas.  And the truth is – they are.

But you could have gotten that information off the Skunk2 website.  It’s not top secret.  Some stuff is made in-house, but not all.  A lot is made overseas.  ……Just like your sweet Nikes.  And your hoodie.  Your iPhone, and your shades.  You know what Americans make?  Movies, and financial debt.  That’s what we do.  I have a friend that works in the textile industry, and they send machinery to American Apparel (AMERICAN!! apparel) – and the shipping address is straight to Mexico.  The simple & important fact is, regarding Skunk – their products are researched & designed here in the US by enthusiasts.  And that research & design stems from racing programs and seat-time here in the US.  Then they are made overseas.  And then they are shipped here to the states.  So the big issue here is NOT with quality, since the quality is born in the research, & design, & materials, & experience.  Only a few people out there are really gonna dispute the true quality of Skunk products.  And if the problem is not with ‘faking quality’, then I don’t really have a problem.  I think the problem(s) with the whole skunk situation are 2-fold.  1)  The forums are basically filled with young, undereducated, and innocent people… and somebody made a post that told you some information that popped your cherry a little bit.  And I get it.  I understand why you’re upset.  I’m into bicycles, but I’m fairly new to the bicycle world (5 years).  And I felt bummed when I learned that damn near EVERY bike frame is made overseas… even the elite/competition brands that say ‘Made in Italy’, or ‘Made in USA’.  The word “made”… just means that it was painted and/or assembled here.  Sad and true.  So – you were on your favorite forum, and you got some info about the way things work, that made you lose your innocence a little bit.  But this is the world, and this is the ‘global economy’.  And, whether it’s unfortunate or not, our American economy has grown past the manufacturing phase.  Meaning, our labor costs in the United States have gotten too high.  And we can point the finger at whoever we want.  But look – let’s make it personal.  Do YOU want to work in a factory making camshafts all day for 5 bucks an hour?  Or do you expect more like $20/hour.  The fact of it is – you couldn’t run a business in America doing it for 5 bucks an hour.  So – you can buy a Skunk2 intake manifold at top-quality for 600 bucks.  Or you can buy a Skunk2 intake manifold at with the same top-quality MADE IN AMERICA for $1600.  Your choice.  And for the record, I agree with you… that we should support American manufacturing and American talent where we can.  I think that we should support ‘talent’ no matter what country it comes from.  But the real solutions to get to that utopia are a lot deeper rooted in the world’s economy than Skunk2.

The second problem I really wish we could ignore – because it names a lot of us.  The internet, especially the forums and the social media allow us ALL a voice… when honestly, a lot of us don’t deserve one yet.

That may cause me some shit for saying it.  But it’s true, alright.  See – 10 years ago, this is how things would work:  You would have a job, save your money, and buy a new product from Skunk2.  It would be purchased ‘new’, and not ‘used’ in unknown condition off Craigslist.  Then you would install it on your car and be awesome.  Then – if you had a problem come up with the product, and thought it to be a manufacturer defect, you would call up Skunk2 directly and explain your situation.  They would listen to your issue, take into account all variables (including abuse, but also including customer satisfaction), and they would do their best to take care of the issue, get to the real source of the problem, and keep you as a happy and loyal customer.  But sadly now – that has become old fashion.  In the modern world, it goes like this:  Tuners buy shit new, but they also buy at least an equal amount of shit used in unknown condition off Craigslist and/or eBay.  Then they install it in their car, and they are awesome.  Then – if a problem comes up with the product, and it’s thought to be a manufacturer defect… they go directly to their favorite forums or Facebook – and blast the shit out of it.  In most cases, these people have no credentials.  They are not qualified to be critics.  They are young, passionate, short-sighted, and only have surface-experience.  But… in the modern world… these people still have a voice in front of thousands.  Bad news.  Because who do you think listens?  You guessed it – people who are young, dumb, passionate, short-sighted, and only have surface-experience.  They take that message to heart, and they relay that message blindly, as if it came from the President.

In the case of Skunk2 – these guys were online maliciously trying to harm Skunk’s reputation with a lot of false, and a lot of questionable ammunition.  Just as an example to illustrate, let’s look at that forum-story they used about the guy who bought his Skunk2 camber kit, and “the bushings failed in two months”.  Did Skunk2 ever get one single call from that guy?  No they did not (I asked).  So – Skunk has a 1-year warranty, the bushings failed after 8 short weeks, and Skunk never heard a thing from him??  If that’s the case, then you’ve got to question the real situation here.  Either the story was fabricated, or there is some serious user-error going on, or the customer was not aware of the warranty policy… and just went straight to the internet to bitch.  But just to be clear, the warranty info is on the website, it’s on the product instructions, and of course it is on the ‘warranty card’ that goes into every box.  Skunk2 is a company that has been very influential on the progression of this scene… and you’re letting it get into your heart/thoughts.  But you don’t know how they drive, how they take care of their car, how they abuse it, whether it’s been tuned, whether it’s running lean, rich… whether it’s put together correctly… whether the parts were even designed for his application… whether the parts are even real, or eBay frauds.  An engine is a very complex system that takes people decades to fully understand.  One improper part, can wear on the next, which can wear on the next, which can wear on the next – all prematurely.  It is not simple.

But people roll in the shit-storm.  They’re pigs, and they love it.  They read it online, because they want the drama… they want that mob-mentality forming.  They’re out for blood.  It doesn’t even matter who the prey is… it doesn’t even matter what the issue is.  Each post gets a little dumber, a little more aggressive, a little more drunken with violence.  This – is the modern Coliseum.  And you guys threw Skunk to the tigers.  Tomorrow it might be S3, next week it might be Import Alliance.  You guys set out to do harm to a company that has supported this culture.  Not only supports it, but has had a heavy hand in this cultures very progression.  A company whose mission has always been – quality.  A company who has always stayed loyal to the import scene and the Honda game since day 1.  Instead of building this culture, showing love in this culture, and being an example of this culture… you guys and your online posse set out to destroy.  That was the worst part of this whole thing.  And it sickens me for the future of this culture.  And it seems like some of you need a lesson in what ‘Knock-off’ means.  ‘Knock-off’ does not mean it is, or isn’t made overseas.  ‘Knock-off’ means – copying someone else’s shit.  And then undercutting the ‘original’ in price, performance, and quality.  Don’t use the phrase just to be a scene kid if you don’t know WTF it means.

And then you want to call it ‘bad business’… for the way Skunk reacted.  (They put a bounty on the head of the forum posters)  Who did you think you were dealing with – Applebees?  That’s just funny.  Look – it was ‘bad business’ the way all these people acted on the forum.  Hell – it crossed over to ‘illegal’ at any point where any patently false statements were made… as in:  “Skunk2 has no quality control,” and “Skunk2 performs no R&D”.  We are blessed to have our freedom of speech in this country (lucky for me haha), and that is a great thing… but don’t get it confused with libel, which is a criminal offense.  Opinions vs facts.  If people are going to make these sort of potentially libelous accusations online, they’d better be prepared to back them up with factual evidence.  It’s not a game.  Skunk2 got involed only when ‘opinions’ crossed the line and turned into ‘libal’.  So back on topic – these guys call out for blood online – but then they want to get all righteous on the re-action.  Right.  And in hindsight, maybe it was a little questionable, unprecedented, and/or at least ‘unexpected’ to put a bounty on someone from a forum.  But you have to understand that the guys who own/run/work at these import performance companies, have put their whole life into their products and their company’s image.  They are enthusiasts.  And I promise you from personal experience, that at some point (if not even currently), they have struggled with finances & relationships because of their dream.  These guys are NOT doing it just for the profit margins.  They are trying to develop a source for true quality in our industry.  They have absolutely everything invested in these companies, including their heart.  So yeah – when you attack it, they will defend it passionately.  The ‘bounty’ was put out there, to get the official names of these people… in order to peruse legal action.  They weren’t loading-up the car to go break knee caps.

***And to the companies that advertise on all of these forums, because they are cheaper than magazines… I know your budgets are tight, but you need to think about that you are doing short &long term.  Because there is no loyalty on the Internet.  There is no credibility.  There is no concern, or accountability.  It’s a drunken mob mentality looking for a fight.  And you’re just feeding the piranhas.  Seriously.