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Chris Kruzel of Drippin' Wet: From Side Hustle to Success

Chris Kruzel, owner of custom graphics company Drippin’ Wet, shares with us how buying “garbage” stickers led him to create his successful business. We discuss how he and his wife manage the business, what has changed with stickers over the years, and seeing riders with his products.

Follow Drippin’ Wet on Instagram and Facebook!

Pit Pass Moto Trivia Question:

Name the youngest rider to win an AMA Motocross race, and what event and year did this happen?

Check out the answer after our interview with Chris Kruzel!

MotoAmerica, the home of the AMA Superbike Championship - featuring 190 mph Superbikes, is the OFFICIAL sponsor of Pit Pass Moto!

Did you know...

There are 9 rounds of the best racing on 2 wheels, featuring 190 MPH HONOS Superbikes!

  • All 20 HONOS Superbike races air live on Fox Sports
  • Liqui Moly Junior Cup airs on Fox Sports
  • MotoAmerica Rewind and Inside MotoAmerica airs on Fox Sports
  • SuperSport races air live on MavTV
  • Don’t miss a minute of action, practice, qualifying, races and video on demand with MotoAmerica Live+ streaming

Tickets, info and complete schedule at motoamerica.com/tickets

Follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Pit Pass Moto is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson, Chris Bishop, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow.

Note: This transcript was done by AI and not human, so there may be some errors.
Dave Sulecki

Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest and motorcycling and brings the biggest names in motorcycle racing right to you. I'm Dave Sulecki and I'm PJ Doran. And this week we have Chris Kruzel of Drippin Wet as our guest.

PJ Doran

Moto America, the home of the AMA Superbike Championship, is the official sponsor of Pit Pass Moto. This season, nine rounds of the best racing on two wheels will be happening. We've got 20 super bike races airing live on Fox Sports. Super Sport races are going to air live on Mad TV this year sees the return of the King of the Badgers. There will be three total rounds of that. We can't wait to see how it plays out. At Laguna Seca, four rounds are also featuring the mini cup by Moto, who'll be sure to follow Moto America on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Dave Sulecki

This week's pit pass trivia question is named the youngest rider to win a professional and a motocross race. And what event and year did this happen? More on that after our interview with Chris Kruzel.

PJ Doran

Welcome to Pit Pass Moto. Today, the man behind drippin wet, Chris Kruzel. Chris, thank you for taking the time and joining us on Pit Pass today. How are you doing?

Chris Kruzel

Good. How are you doing? Thanks for having me on.

PJ Doran

It's been a while since we talked to you. I myself, Chris, am a customer of yours, so I have reason to reach out to you on a somewhat regular basis. And you do beautiful work. I could sing your accolades ad nauseum because you helped me personally with my logo design in its original phases in your in your artwork has just been amazing. It's held up wonderfully over time. So that begs the question, how did you get started doing what you do at Dripping Wet?

Chris Kruzel

Know, I actually bought some stickers that were garbage bags that I could do better and I didn't know how to wear what to start off with and just looked into it and and it started from there.

PJ Doran

And so now this is correct me if I'm wrong, 100 percent of your career. Is that true? Currently, yes. But that hasn't always been the case, correct? I mean, this was a side hustle for a long time.

Chris Kruzel

Yeah. As I got my feet wet until, you know, you can't just quit your job and it's always a risk. So I burned the candle at both ends usually. Oh, man, I can't do it anymore because I'm getting older. But back in the day, I mean, there was nights when I slept two or three hours. That was it. I can't do that anymore.

Dave Sulecki

I could imagine is somebody starting a business that's you pretty much got to live the business for a while until it takes off. But I'm kind of curious. I know a lot of businesses today do business, I guess less conventionally. I mean, is a lot of your business generated by word of mouth people see your work or is it social media or do you do a lot of advertising in some ways to drive business?

Chris Kruzel

I don't do any advertising other than social media. So it's all pretty much word of mouth. But I do try to get out to as many races as I can just to have a personal presence. And I try to get out to some six races. It's been a while since I've been aware race. They don't come up in the Northeast as much in the mid-Atlantic region and I try to get as many Mid-America races as I can. The last couple of years has been a little harder just because there's so many last minute orders to get to the track.

Chris Kruzel

And it's just hard to to work like a 15, 16 hour days and three hours later jump in a car and drive 13 hours, you know, to road L.A.. So unfortunately, I had to skip Road Atlanta this year. I planned on going. I went to Vassar, I'll do Pittsburgh of New Jersey, and I'll probably do Barbara just because it's the end of the season and things should be to my normal by that point. They were pretty busy year round, but I think I'll be able to sneak away and go to Barbara.

PJ Doran

Chris, are you still a one man shop or have you gotten so big? You've got to have minyans now?

Chris Kruzel

No, my wife would kill me if I said I was a woman. So she's a big part of it. But she doesn't do any of the design or the pranks. She mainly does packaging, shipping, all that stuff, which believe me, is a ton of help. But now we're pretty much just me and her know. We just work out of my house and pretty much work. So I know how to do his work anymore. You know, you get used to working seven days a week, 15, 16 hours a day.

Chris Kruzel

And on Sunday I cheat a little bit, but pretty much you just you get so used to doing it, that's all, you know, matter of fact, the power is out for two hours here before and it's hot it out. It's like 95. And I'm like, oh, please come back on. My ass is working. But I didn't know what to do for like two hours. I couldn't do anything on the computer. I couldn't do any printing, couldn't I just couldn't do anything.

Chris Kruzel

So it's just it was a weird feeling, you know, just not working.

PJ Doran

That is a sign that you are well ingrained in the system you've created for yourself. You do some of the coolest graphics for some of our favorite racers here on Pit Pass. I get to talk to racers all the time. I was very recently at a Moto American fan up at Road America. I'll be going to Brainerd here shortly, albeit Bahbah as well. What other areas? So it's well established. You're in the Moto America paddock. Your work is there.

PJ Doran

New racers seek you out. Are you and other forms of motorsport, other other types of motorcycle racing or in the off road world as well to some supermoto for some of the guys that train? I don't do a lot of Off-Road stuff. The last thing I did there was non like motorcycle racing was I did a car in the Rolex series a few years ago. It was the the Jaylo Porche. I'm still kicking myself in the ass for that one.

PJ Doran

They offered for me to take a couple laps at Watkins Glen and then I was just too busy and couldn't get up there. And it was a. A 9/11 RCR, which that would have been pretty bad ass to drive. Oh, yeah, you know, just motorcycles mainly and road racing somewhat specifically the supermoto bikes, obviously, their motocross bikes of a form. And so the graphics, I'm sure you're doing the full dika fender decals that actually fit the bike, right?

Chris Kruzel

Oh, yeah. Yeah. I actually did a little bit of a Wally stuff, too, for the kids out of the road. America and the ridge.

PJ Doran

Oh, right. On that new Mineka. That's awesome. Getting involvement on that stuff.

Chris Kruzel

Well, including many of I think we had 11 podiums this weekend right on.

PJ Doran

So you've got a whole host of guys that you're working with that are also young, which means they're going to be with you for a long, long time. How does it work for a racer when they get in touch with you? Somebody at the Moto America level, for example, is there a cost? I know I gladly pay you whatever you ask for your decals because they are a cut above and they're absolutely worth it. Do you sponsor racers in a fashion through your D'Qwell work for them?

Chris Kruzel

We do a select few. We have to budget it like any other company, though, and usually kind of set those later in the year. It varies, of course. You know, HBK is 15 minutes from me. They keep me busy putting stickers on bikes and badges, bikes. So that's a little bit of a you know, there's like five sets to start out with. And then, of course, I think Westby ordered seven or eight or nine sets at the beginning of the season.

Chris Kruzel

So it's given somebody orders a whole bunch of sets. I know some people can't budget for that kind of stuff, but it almost gets it out of the way for a while. And they have a really bad year and then, of course, anymore. But, you know, you never know.

PJ Doran

That's really cool that it's every season. So I'm sure as as team sponsors change, little changes mean new graphics and a lot of respects, I'm sure. Are you doing do you do stuff off the bike as well, like helmets, leathers, anything? Because your logos certainly transferred other applications in the race and world.

Chris Kruzel

I've done a bunch of helmets. I take a different approach. Some people wrap a helmet completely, but the average person doesn't know how to wrap their helmet. You know, there's a little bit of an artwork to it and you've got to stretch it and cut around the vents and all that. I do. I'm kind of in sections so the average person could just get them in the mail and put them on instead of one big giant sheet. It's pretty premade for.

Chris Kruzel

But the only thing is I don't have all the helmets I've showing fourteen. I've got the belt, Greystar, HGV, Pista and I think the is the same as a pistol, the same shell and a sixty. So we take a little while to make up the design, you know, the template pieces and then of course you got to work on designs. But it's just, you know, like I said, we just work all the time.

Chris Kruzel

There's always something to do, always something new to start doing. So this keeps us busy.

Dave Sulecki

Chris, I'm curious, you said at the top of the show that what led to this pathway in your in your career and your new business was you bought a crappy décor and thought you could do a better job. What's some of the trends? What have changed is that the materials you know, I when I buy a graphics kit, I'm just blown away and how easy they are to work and get into place and stretch and they form better. I mean, what what are the things that have changed over the years that have made that better for you?

Chris Kruzel

I think that the technology is always changing in that market. You just don't know how to fix it. It's a sticker, but they they do use different materials. Some places their formula for their vinyl might be more stretchy than others. Some of the clear that you put on top might be a little glossier than others. So they kind of make changes, too. And then recently I actually upgraded my printer. It was old and parts were becoming obsolete for it.

Chris Kruzel

So I end up getting a brand new one a couple of months ago. That one is amazing. I mean, you could hook it up to a phone or an iPad runs very clean compared to the other one constantly doing maintenance on the other one. This one's super clean, quiet technology just changes so much in that kind of any electronics. The way I look at graphics is if your helmet, bike, whatever, it should look like, it comes out of a race color of protein.

Chris Kruzel

If it can't, then it's just numbers on your bike or whatever. You know, if I rode Berzins, DeCoutere Scoters, Barwan, I'm not going to go as fast as I am because I just don't have it. You have to have some kind of ability to make these kind of things a creative, you know, something in the back of your mind to come out with stuff. If you don't, then is just making stickers. I guess at that point, Chris, you are yourself an motorcyclist's, correct?

Chris Kruzel

Is that still happening? I know. I think dating back, you were in the dealership setting as an employee and most of the guys at dealerships. Right, right.

Chris Kruzel

That was actually a car dealership. Yeah. This is a good memory, though, because. I worked in car dealerships for 22 years straight out of high school. I did that. I'm getting old now, but I've always had bikes. When I raced motocross, most of my life got rid of that on my first street bike wasn't already 400. My dad gave me that and that was really cool. I should have kept that bike my first, like, post motocross racing.

Chris Kruzel

Just I want to get a street bike was a Aprilia. Millie then ended up getting in a premier factory that I am getting an A for. I've always liked the brand. My latest one, I have an 18 hour one and I'm sad to say it's probably my favorite bike, but I have a thousand miles on it and I got an 18. I just, I wrote it for the first time yesterday. This year. It's just been so busy I just don't have time anymore.

Chris Kruzel

And I have to make time because I don't want to like, not have a motorcycle, not go riding because I only went out for an hour and it was like one of the best hours I've had this year.

PJ Doran

Probably it is exactly the thing that brings us all to racing. And I feel your pain, Chris, as an employee at a motorcycle dealership, it directly impacts how much you ride. I find that I ride less now than I did before. I was an employee at a dealership when I was actively racing and doing the track days and everything else that go along with wanting to be a better racer. Do you get to do track days at all? It sounds like not much.

PJ Doran

If a thousand miles since 18, you probably haven't had it to the track yet.

Chris Kruzel

Actually once and kind of a shout out to team promotion. I they're close. They were a which is close to me and I just went there to see some friends of mine. I rode up and they asked if I wanted to go on the track. I had never been on a track before and I said, sure, and I was slow. You know, the banking was fun. I wasn't slow in the bank. And that takes like zero effort.

Chris Kruzel

I don't know why people get all worried about banking, but that was the only place I was asked if I could just hold it wide open. But everywhere else I was kind of slow. But I had fun, you know, got the rough of my tires a little bit, you know, just do the whole thing. But whenever I ride, it's almost I won't say it's a chore to go riding, but it's a good thing. When you think about it, though, I only ride with a full suit, you know, boots, gloves.

Chris Kruzel

I would never go out. I don't even like the street to begin with. I think people in cars are just, you know, looking to try to hit you almost. It seems like I was fortunate enough to live near the Pocono Mountains. So I'm five minutes away from just being on deserted roads or uphill, downhill, windy, usually no cars on them. So I'm kind of fortunate where I ride. But, you know, everybody out there, you should definitely just dress for the crash, not for the ride.

Chris Kruzel

It's hot. I know leathers are hot, but, hey, if you're going moving, you're find true words right there. Atget, as the saying goes, I've got a buddy who has that tattoo after a very unfortunate incident. His entire arm is Atget to remind himself of such that you always put on all the gear all the time.

Chris Kruzel

I couldn't imagine if I lost, like, my whole right side was, you know, road rash and my fingers broken. How would I even work? You know, I mean, I have to think of the back of my head at some point, you know, and then I don't ride like an idiot on the street either. I just go for rides. I mean, maybe a little spirited ride here and there. But I'm not one of those guys doing wheelies down the Highway 158.

Chris Kruzel

I probably flip it over anyway, but I just like riding on windy roads and just getting out. You know, it's just a way from my computer and it's just kind of fun. And then I come back and read all the emails that I usually end up getting her voicemail.

PJ Doran

So what's next for dripping wet? Your brand is clearly well established in the industry. Are you moving on to other race series? Do we see dripping wet in World Superbike or Moto as a future happening? Is that possible?

Chris Kruzel

I've had a few things in World Superbikes, just a couple odds and ends stickers, not a complete team stuff. And actually it was unfortunate how my stickers got in the Moto GP, but it was the Simonelli the year he passed away, the little memorial stickers for the Patrick logo contact and had to send them over to forget the actual round. It was it was the following round after he had passed. So I've had pretty much my decals on just about every kind of bike, every kind of series.

Chris Kruzel

It's fun for me because I'm a fan. We're all waiting to see, you know, the best gun battle. And it just seems like things are getting in the way. But I love being at the races. I like watching the races. A couple of years of Jersey. I usually mingle around the pits, stay on Lane, you know, hang out with a team. But when you're in Jersey, I think it was like two years ago, I actually went over by turns to one by the bridge.

Chris Kruzel

I sat in the bleachers all day and just watched this totally. One of the fans just hung out all day. I mean, after the races, you know, mingled around the pits. But it was a lot of fun. It was great. I mean, the enthusiasm of their jersey is a big ground and it's always packed. Tons of people are there. It was a lot of fun.

PJ Doran

Well, where time is wrapping up, Chris and I wanted to give you a chance. Is there anybody. I want to give a shout out to our racers, usually talk about their sponsors, but you are the sponsor, so anybody you want to give a shout out to will give you the time to do so. Right now, you know, probably the West ski team and the HBK team and there's so many other Marder's, there's Bardhan, there's Hudson Valley, there's Hognose Westby.

PJ Doran

He contacted me back in 09 and I've been doing sticker's for their bikes since 2009, four days before. And for Matthew, it's been a long relationship and a really good one of those. They're great people. Tregg is great to be around and I enjoy being around HBK too, because, like I said, their 15 minutes up the road from me so I can go out there just about. I usually end up dropping stuff off, usually once a week anyway, going up on a Saturday and hanging out.

PJ Doran

So it's a lot of fun. And Graves' can't forget Graves'. They're responsible for a lot of stuff on my bike and they've been a big supporter of mine for years as well.

PJ Doran

Your name in the Who's Who of our Moto America Paddock. Well, thank you, Ginkas Crucell, for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to join us on Pipas today. We really appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

Chris Kruzel

Oh, no problem. Thanks so much for having me.

Dave Sulecki

This week's past trivia question was name the youngest writer to win a professional and a motocross race, and what event and year did this happen? And the answer is, of course, Robbie Rainard, who was 16 years old when he won the Steel City Motocross National one twenty five class in nineteen ninety three, an impressive ride for a 16 year old kid against some of the fastest guys in the country. Upcoming in Motorcycle Racing News, we've got Moto America from Monterrey this July nine through the 11th.

Dave Sulecki

Also American Flatrock go into Darkcoin, Illinois on July the 17th. The Dutch World Superbike race will happen July twenty third through the twenty fifth.

Dave Sulecki

Thank you again to our guests for being with us today and thank you for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app so you won't miss an episode. If you have a moment, please write and review us. We really appreciate it. Make sure you're also following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit pit pass moto dot com where you can check out our blog.

PJ Doran

This has been a production of Evergreen podcast, a special thank you to Tommy Boy Harverson, Chris Bishop, our producer, Leah Longbrake, and audio engineer Eric Koltnow. Now I'm PJ and I'm Dave.

PJ Doran

We'll see you next week. Have a good time.

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