Being from Wisconsin myself, I’ve known Milwaukee’s Mike Hinkens for quite some time. Hanging out with him on the recent Road Fools 18 trip was a real treat, where we had a chance to catch up on each other’s lives and laugh about old times. Mike’s a kind and thoughtful person with a deep love for BMX. With his new found job as Madera TM, I thought he would be the perfect choice for the first Query?. – Chris Rye
Name, age, hometown?
Mike Hinkens, 28 years of age from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
First off, congrats on the new Madera Team Manager job. How did that come about, and what’s it like getting handed the reins from a veteran TM like Matt Coplon?
Well thank you very much. I am very excited about the whole thing! As for Matt and the job, well its a long story. It began about 6 years ago when Milwaukee’s only true ALL BMX store, C4BMX closed its doors. Matt had always been awesome to us there and told us employees that anything we ever needed was a phone call away. A year later, my bike was stolen and with no local shop, I called Matt to order some stuff. Ironically, he told me that he had meant to call me soon to try out riding some of this new Madera stuff. I said sure and my relationship with Madera began. Over time I became heavily invested in seeing a company I love survive and have often times helped Matt out with stuff ranging from shirt designs, to product ideas, to team suggestions. Matt was so busy with Profile and everything else that I often offered to help just to alleviate some of that. As of late, Madera has been growing and growing and Matt has been more and more swamped. The more we talked, the more we realized the brand deserved a TM solely for itself now. It was only natural that Matt and I shift things to me and here we are. Though Matt still has a huge part in the team, I am shocked already at how much time and effort this consumes and am even more respectful of Matt for doing such an awesome job for so long with so many things on his plate. I do not know how he did it. Either way, it’s my turn to step up now and I hope I can fill Matt’s shoes as the TM, ride hard as a team rider, and take Madera to its next level!
What kind of things are you planning for Madera this year?
On one hand, don’t expect anything drastic or wild. On the other hand, expect a lot! We are focusing on solidifying our image and art direction ASAP. We have a talented artist amongst our ranks, Dave McDermott, who will be helping to re-route and organize our move forward this year. New logos and graphics, a unified fashion line, and a new look to our web productions are all in the works. We are also looking at dropping some new products as well as expanding our color options. We may not get wild like Profile, but we think we can expand while still staying true to some of the simpler and more basic vibes we have gone for with our parts. As for the team, instead of expanding the team as new TM’s usually do, we are going to focus on expanding what we do with our team. In other words, we want to send our guys more places to do more stuff to be more awesome! Expect the team to be popping up everywhere this year, be it on the web, in print, or in your neighborhood.
What’s the meaning behind the name Madera and who came up with it?
Honestly, it’s nothing too wild. Close to Profile headquarters in St. Pete Florida is a beach called Madeira Beach. As far as I know, Matt and maybe Dave stole that name and took out the ‘i’ to make it Madera. In reality I should probably know more about this! Or I should make up a more exciting story. Sorry.
Being a Wisconsin boy, are you heading down to Florida where Madera is HQed, or are you planning on doing the job back in the WI icebox?
I will be staying here for the job. I love Milwaukee and our scene and would really like to stay here a bit longer. My full time job as a teacher may see me moving in a few years to pursue greener pastures, but not yet. With iPhones nowadays, I could do this job from an airplane if I wanted to. I spend about an hour or more each day emailing with the team and Matt and more and then I spend a few hours a week on the phone with everyone.
You hold a college degree. What’s your degree in? Do you recommend going to college?
Oh man. This is a tough question. First of all, I have a few degrees in history and education. Would I recommend going to college…is it free for you? If so, yes! I loved it. If it costs ya, think hard about why you are going and what you want to do afterwards. I learned more than I could have imagined, my mind expanded (without acid), and I had a blast. If you want to learn and grow, GO TO COLLEGE. If you want a good job and not to be broke…college may not be the best choice for you. With the collapse of the job market as of late and the abundance of college grads, we are now a dime-a-dozen in the workforce UNLESS you are highly specialized or in specific fields. A general 4 year degree is almost worthless but at the same time, so is a general diploma. I am a bit disillusioned with the career path I chose, not because of the actual job, but because of the LACK of jobs and the poor pay for the mountain of student loans I owe. So, to answer your question, I don’t know. College will help you grow as a person BUT if it costs you a ton and you bank on getting a sweet job out of it, it may not be in your best interest. Talk to about 8 advisors. 3 of mine were wrong. Maybe 5 more would have steered me in the right direction!
After you graduated you spent some time outside the US. What’s the story with that?
As I said above, jobs for educators are not very abundant. Though I wanted to stay in Milwaukee while I was still heavily involved in the BMX scene, my thirst for adventure, my fear of being trapped by a job, and my lack of a good job at home led me to look abroad. I went to a recruiting fair where foreign prep schools auction off willing teachers and I hocked myself to whoever would listen. A Nicaraguan school for the wealthy, privileged, and foreign picked me up and off I flew to the capital city Managua for a year of teaching and living. After about 11 months of living and teaching there, YOU made me quit. Road Fools popped up as an opportunity and it directly conflicted with the first few weeks of the new school year there. I made the choice to abandon a good job and a not so good country and come home unemployed and get 100% back into BMX. I fully pursued BMX once again and have been scraping by to make ends meet as a substitute teacher, after school tutor, and now team manager. Down there I was able to ride, but not very often and not at the level I still want to be at. Coming home was certainly a big boost to my riding and my BMX path as a whole. I do miss some of my homies from Nicaragua though!