At the heart of 509’s success is Scott Wilhelm, a senior designer with a long-standing history at the company. In a recent Fueling Your Passion Podcast episode with David McKinney and Ross Robinson, Scott sat down to reflect on his early days working with Tom Delanoy, the founder of 509 and 509 Films, and shed light on the brand's evolution, product development, and their unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries.
Scott's journey with 509 began in the summer of 2011, when he unofficially joined the team to work on a catalog project. As a freelance designer, Scott's role eventually evolved into a full-time position, solidifying his integral role within the team. In the beginning, Scott worked closely with Tom, sharing office space and collaborating on various projects. As time progressed, Scott took on additional responsibilities, including designing goggles.
Constant Innovation and Inspiration
The conversation in the podcast delves into the early days of 509, when social media was emerging as a dominant marketing platform. This dynamic environment fueled their drive to stay raw and innovative, drawing inspiration from both within and outside the industry. Scott and Tom were constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas, seeking to create unique products that would set 509 apart. They discussed the challenging timeline of gear development, with designs and production processes sometimes taking up to a year and a half. As 509 grew and added new designers, fresh styles and inspirations infused the team, fueling their continuous pursuit of excellence.
Scott Wilhelm, initially the sole designer alongside Tom, played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of 509’s products. The podcast conversation touched upon the improvements seen in their flagship products, such as the Sinister Goggle and Evolution helmet. Scott emphasized how technology and fitment have significantly advanced over the years, resulting in superior performance and enhanced user experience. David commended 509’s commitment to building everything from scratch, showcasing the brand's dedication to crafting high-quality gear.
David and Ross shed light on the early days when 509 relied on open molds for their products. Open molds allowed customization of pre-existing designs but also posed the risk of other companies using the same molds, leading to similar-looking products. The conversation highlighted the 509's gratitude for moving away from open molds and embracing their own unique designs, ensuring their helmets and goggles are easily recognizable as 509's distinctive creations.
Expanding Product Line and Specializations
David and Ross expressed their excitement about the ongoing expansion of 509's product line. They mentioned Scott's current focus on designing gloves and boots, while the 509 now has dedicated individuals overseeing specific segments. This specialization allows for even greater attention to detail and ensures that each product receives the care and expertise it deserves.
The podcast conversation touched on the continuous evolution of snowmobile technology and gear. David and Scott acknowledged that while current gear and technology work well for them, they anticipate future advancements that will render their current equipment outdated. They emphasized the importance of staple products and celebrated the significant improvements seen in gear such as moto boots. Ross also discussed the rigorous testing process to ensure their gear's durability, striking a delicate balance between comfort and functionality.
The Birth of 509 Films
David, Ross, and Scott briefly recounted the origins of the 509 brand, sharing how they connected with Tom through a sticker on his distinctive red truck with Lamborghini-style doors. This chance encounter led to a fruitful collaboration that laid the foundation for 509. They also reminisced about their love for music, a significant element of the brand's culture, and the inspiration drawn from iconic songs featured in action sports videos.
The conversation took a lighthearted turn as David and Ross delved into Scott's collection of unique goggle straps. Scott's penchant for designing unconventional and eye-catching straps has become a cherished tradition. Ross marveled at the creativity behind designs like the "Caterpillar" and the "Naughty Pine." They expressed their joy in wearing these distinctive accessories and even contemplated creating a display to showcase the evolving collection of straps.
Scott Wilhelm's journey with 509 exemplifies the brand's commitment to innovation, quality, and passion. From his early days collaborating closely with Tom to the present, Scott has played a vital role in shaping the evolution of 509's products. The podcast captured the essence of their shared vision, highlighting their dedication to pushing boundaries and delivering exceptional gear. As 509 continues to expand its product line, their commitment to excellence and unwavering passion ensure that they remain at the forefront of snowmobile technology and gear.