Jim Hale, the founder of AXO USA and Mechanixwear gloves, passed away suddenly following complications from back surgery on Wednesday. He was a motorcycle industry icon who was liked by every person he met—especially by the Motocross Action wrecking crew.
The story of Jim Hale started at California’s Indian Dunes Raceway. Jim and his brother Nick were hot young Pro racers, building a solid rep in the sand north of Los Angles. After years of hard-core racing, Jim realized that he had taken his racing career as far as it would go. It was time to race for fun and work for a living.
He started as a sales rep for O’Neal USA in the San Fernando Valley, where he quickly rose to general manager. While working at O’Neal USA, Jim Hale met Remo Berlese. The likable Italian owned a boot manufacturing plant in Italy and made boots for several American companies, including, at the time, Fox and O’Neal. Remo’s dream was to market his own brand of boots, AXO, in the American market, but he hadn’t had much success. Remo and Hale hit it off immediately, and when Remo asked Jim to become the American importer of little-known AXO boots, Jim jumped at the chance. While Remo owned the company in Italy, Hale would take over total responsibility for the marketing, sales, distribution and design of the boots starting in 1984.
Jim Hale’s story doesn’t end with AXO. He also took over the Sinisalo line, Renthal handlebars and Mechanixwear gloves—before divesting himself of Sinsialo, Renthal and AXO to focus on Mechanixwear
Jim Hale started as a local racer, got a job as a route man, parlayed that into a management position, used his connections to become an importer and, in the process, has played a roll in AXO, Sinisalo, Renthal and Mechanixwear. He will be missed for his kindness, business know-how and creativity.