Speaking with Marc Teissier, the boss..
RUST: Marc, can you give us an idea of the ethos at Sherco?
MT: ‘At Sherco we want to make bikes with the performance to compete in the world championship but are also easy to ride for the customer. So we work a lot in development to make the feeling good for the rider. And it is not enough to make a bike that is good for production and makes money, we want to build excellence. I don’t want to make a Renault Twingo, I want to make a Ferrari! This takes time, energy, and it costs, but it’s the right way.
RUST: Last year you introduced the two-strokes, this year a new 450, what’s coming next?
MT: So this year we have the new 450 and it’s a possibility with this new engine to make a 350 also. But we don’t want to produce this at this moment because we don’t have the capacity to start with two models in the same year. We want to complete the range of models and year by year we finish the job. We work hard, but I like to put one foot in front of the other. If you make a big jump you can make a crash... So we are careful, to push the sales we need a good product, good quality and in support a good organization. Now it is not perfect but it is very near. We need to push for one or two more years but then we’ll have nearly finished the organisation.
RUST: There’s lots of talk of financial woes in dirt biking. Is Sherco financially secure?
MT: At Sherco we started to make money quickly in the first years (with the trials bikes) but then we invested in the enduros and now we are near to making money again. But we invest a lot, we have a good economic balance and at this time we are not out to make money. It’s important to invest to finish the Sherco house. So we make with maybe less money than the big company, but it’s a nice demonstration that not only big money makes nice things. It is the same for both the big company and the small, it is about one person with the muscle and the idea, and such an engineer is possible in Honda, in KTM in Sherco. In the last years in enduro we have seen Aprilia with much money make many noises, but in the end nothing. BMW with much money and in the end they give Husqvarna away because it is still impossible to make the job. It’s not just about money - it is the idea in the head.
RUST: You had amazing success at the Dakar Rally this year, scoring wins against Honda and KTM. Have those high-profile successes made a difference to Sherco?
MT: For the little company it is important to have balance. You can race world championship and people will buy the bike because they see the result. Dakar is good for the brand too. Good because if you want to make a bike for the world then Dakar is a big picture for the world. Dakar especially helped Sherco with the South American market. In the first week of Dakar Honda won two days, KTM won two days and Sherco won two days, and for the customer in South America it is then a choice of Honda, KTM or Sherco! This was good for the brand.
RUST: You’ve also stepped up production massively this last year. With such successes and an expanding range do you have plans to become the next KTM?
MT: No, I intend to carefully manage our growth. I don’t want at the moment for a capital company to come into Sherco, I like that it’s family, with this spirit. With a capital investor it would be a case of push push push, and sometimes you go very fast and after stop. It is better to advance not so quickly but never stop! And I’m happy with our progress. Not very happy because if you are too happy you stop because you think you’ve arrived. I’m every time never satisfied - it is possible every time to make it better. I think it is good to have this spirit, to never stop.