“There’s nothing like riding something you built from the ground up - a sense of complete creative control, accomplishment, and an organic connection to your bike. The way it sounds, feels, and rides.”
Living your passion will serve you your whole life through and for Sean Petterson, Industrial Designer and CEO of Strong Arm Tech, finding one of his deepest loves occurred in childhood. Sean has always been a builder at heart; an engineer with dreams which explains a lot about his early road to success. Driven in both his personal and professional life, Sean has achieved a lot at a young age - much of which he accredits to his first build - his first love. Motorcycles.
Fight for Your Right
Many bikers have experienced resistance from loved ones around the joys of riding and the storyline of a young Sean was no different.
“Everything actually started with riding dirt bikes, but eventually I felt this connection to motorcycles - wanting to rebuild and rehab them. I picked up my first actual motorcycle to rebuild when I was 16 years old. I had just finally gotten it running again, and I came home from school one day to find it in a dumpster. My mom was having some renovations done on the house and asked the contractors to throw the bike away for her. After that, I started hiding my project pieces in the shed since she admitted to thinking of them as ‘death traps’. All motorcycles that is.”
Sean taught himself to replace, rebuild, and reimagine. He was always listening to others' advice and ideas, taking them back to his shed to try. Sometimes, other older riders would stop by to tinker with him, offering guidance from years of experience. It wasn’t until after Sean had left for college that his mother saw pictures of her son riding, but it was only four years ago that she rode on the back of one. “She knows how passionate I am about them and after riding on them with me, well, now she’s all about motorcycles.”
To Sean, nothing compares to riding on something you built from the ground up. “Freedom combined with speed offers a release to the day like nothing else. All your stress just melts away because you’re focusing your attention on the road, the sounds of your bike, and the feel of the wind. I think that’s what I love most about riding - the refocus makes you live in the moment. The wind literally blocks out negative thoughts and social norms. When you ride you want to have deeper conversations and meet other riders, experience the world around you - gasoline smells and all.”
During the day, Sean is busy going from meeting to meeting, office building to office building, using his bike whenever possible. But walking into a room of suits straight from his bike can be trying.
“A lot of times I bring a sport-jacket along to throw over the top of my gear to look more business-professional, but for a long time shoes were a huge issue. Finding boots that make sense on a bike and the business world was difficult. Before AV, I’d buy boots that were either hideous in both worlds, completely uncomfortable off-road, or made of such cheap materials that they’d never last. I wanted something smart, safe, and sustainable and AV’s boots delivered. I can now ride into meetings looking stylish and professional. I can’t wait for Catherine to create an AV riding jacket!”
Find Your Tribe
Sean and Catherine actually met in one of the design incubator labs, each working on separate projects but connecting over their love for motorcycles. Sean would sneak his bikes into the building, up the elevators, to the back to rebuild sections of them. Catherine noticed.
“Catherine had been working with 3-D printing extremely impressive helmets when I met her and it didn’t take long for me to realize she was a builder of ingenuity like myself. I loved her idea of transitional street gear for micro-commuters - combining tech for safety and comfort and designs that I saw myself wearing both on and off the road. I knew I had to be a part of AV in any way I could.”
Catherine and Sean have become good friends, riding mates, and supporters for one another's’ businesses. In fact, Catherine has been teaching Sean’s fiance to ride motorcycles - enjoying the connection to a tribe that only exists within the micro-commuting community. “Catherine is an amazing teacher. I am really excited to be able to share my passion for the road on two wheels with my future wife. I sense a lot of adventures ahead for us. And for AV.”