PB Creative is the business environment of Phil Beckman, an independent writer, graphic designer and photographer in Southern California. That’s me. I’ll give you the short, long and fun versions of my life so far.
THE SHORT VERSION:
THE LONG VERSION:
I started out in 1973 as a motorcycle/snowmobile technician at St. Cloud Toyota-Suzuki in St. Cloud, Minnesota, later moving up to parts and service manager (while still swinging wrenches).
I moved to California in 1981 and became a staff editor at Hi-Torque Publications, writing and shooting photos for a number of one-off special issues tied to Dirt Bike and Motocross Action Magazines. One of these specials was Dirt Wheels Magazine, which covered the relatively new all-terrain vehicle market. This industry soon exploded, so the publisher decided to increase the frequency of Dirt Wheels‘ publication and made me Associate Editor. Less than a year later Dirt Wheels became a monthly, and I the Editor. I was later responsible for the launch and editorial management of 3- & 4-Wheel ATV Action Magazine.
In 1985 I accepted a generous offer and editorial position with Wright Publishing, which produced 3Wheeling Magazine (later to become ATV Sports). In 1989 Wright Publishing ceased publication of ATV Sports under the pressure of ATV safety issues.
My experiences in publishing stirred an interest in graphic design, and I began pursuing a degree in this field while still working at Wright. The folding of ATV Sports accelerated my plans to attend school full-time while launching my own publishing/marketing/advertising agency, which became PB Creative.
The friends and contacts I had made while at the magazines allowed PB Creative to hit the ground running. I’ve been handling much of the marketing content for ATV tire and wheel manufacturer ITP (later to become a subsidiary of Carlisle Tire and Wheel Company) since the beginning of both our businesses. Since then, ITP has grown to be the number one aftermarket ATV/UTV brand in the industry.
Another longtime client was American Suzuki. For 20 years I produced much of Suzuki’s dealer communications, including work for the Motorcycle/ATV, Marine and Automotive divisions. A quick look at my portfolio tells the tale.
THE FUN VERSION:
I have spent much of my life behind bars. Handlebars. A passion for riding led to a career and lifestyle that has always revolved around throwing a leg over a saddle and pinning it.
It started with snowmobiles during the long winters in rural central Minnesota lake country. Dirt bikes were added one summer, and then the motocross bug bit me hard. I spent nearly every weekend for the next eight years following the AMA District 23 circuit, occasionally venturing out of state pre- and post-season. I was once a moderately-sized fish in a fairly small pond, finishing fourth for the year in the 125 Expert class in 1977. My biggest claim to fame was being the unofficial state ice racing champion the next winter (some of my fondest memories are of snow/ice riding). This all came with a lot of support from the shop I worked for, St. Cloud Suzuki, and owner Mike Dockendorf.
In 1981 I was ready for a change and decided to move to California – the hub of the motorcycle industry – to audaciously pursue my dream job: magazine editor. To the utter amazement of me, my friends and my family, I landed a job as a photojournalist within a week of my arrival. It was totally (already using Valleyspeak) a case of being in the right place at the right time. Hi-Torque Publications needed a warm body to help fill their special issues and were willing to provide on-the-job training.
My head was spinning. Besides the culture shock, I was now working shoulder-to-shoulder with my editorial heroes and riding all the latest dirt bikes on legendary tracks like Saddleback, Indian Dunes and Carlsbad. I got real-life, inside-the-ropes press passes to Supercross, National Motocross and Grand Prix events. I was doing interviews and photo shoots with the legends of the day. Photos of me testing bikes were in the magazines. I have a hard time believing it even now.
My life took an unusual turn when I was assigned to Dirt Wheels Magazine, which had been recently launched to tap into the sudden all-terrain vehicle phenomenon. Three-wheelers were not my thing, but I did as the boss asked and dove in. I found that they handled a lot like snowmobiles, and adapted quickly. It wasn’t long before I was racing, with a lot of success. I turned pro and in my first race in the class finished fourth overall in a field of 41 of the top guys in the sport. Over the next seven years – and through a change in employment to a rival magazine – I participated in a wide range of National-level ATV races all over the country, first on three wheels and later on their four-wheeled offspring. I did it all: motocross, stadium, flat track, cross-country and even a few events in Baja. You can read about some of these adventures in my blog.
My ATV riding and racing days ended when ATV safety concerns ended the magazine I was working for. That prompted my decision to strike out on my own with PB Creative. I retired from racing for a couple of years, started a family, grew my business. I jumped back into motorcycle racing for a few seasons, including stints in road racing and Vet-class motocross, but my competitive nature was taking yet another turn.
I took up bicycling in a big way. I had always ridden pedal-bikes for fun and training, but now I was thinking about racing them. On and off during the last two decades I have sat on starting lines at mountain bike, road and cyclocross events.
I will always be a rider of some sort. At least until I can no longer swing a leg over a saddle. By then I’ll be riding into the sunset.