AI – The Union

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Owner of The Union is Kurt Hohberger. Thought it would be good to know his background.

How did you get into BMX? I got into BMX like a lot of other people did. My other brother rode BMX and his group of friends had a local trails spot. Like every annoying brother, I wanted to hang out and ended up there a lot. It got me hooked and it started me on the path to where I am today.

When did you start working for DIG magazine and what was your role in the company? I’m trying to think of the exact time frame. It was around 2009 or 2010 that I started helping out. I was doing their Products section in the magazine and the majority of their online content at the time, when the magazine was still very much the priority and websites were just starting to get traction. My official role was senior contributor when I left around 2012 to focus just on The Union, which was running as a side project the entire time.

What do you look for when share a riders content? Such as youtube video, edit’s, interviews, etc. The criteria I look for is pretty wide ranging. When it comes to videos, the minimum I look for great riding and clean film work. I’ve had to steer away from the vlogs because it literally turned into 100 different people all trying to do what Adam LZ had introduced to the BMX world. There’s literally not enough time in the day to watch 20+ minute long videos. I do keep up with Scotty Cranmer and Trey Jones’ channels because they aren’t the typical vlog style videos and bring something unique and creative to each video. I don’t care if it’s just a random dude that shreds or a rad video from a brand a higher budget project from Red Bull. If it’s a BMX video that’s worth checking out and sharing, I’ll post it up. As far as interviews and everything goes, it’s getting harder and harder to do those because people aren’t as interested in reading anymore. I’ll occasionally do one here and there, still. The criteria for that is still the same as before, if it’s a rad person that’s doing good things that deserves some attention, then I’m down. 

Since living in Minnesota and X Games being in Minneapolis next year will you be attending? That’s the plan. I generally don’t plan super far out into the future since you never know what’s going on or what might come up. Obviously it being close makes it much easier to make the trip happen. It’s more of a good excuse to go see a lot of friends in one place and catch up with everyone than it is about the riding and everything.

What are some new things that are happening with The Union? Any new ideas going on like projects? As of late it has been almost on autopilot. I’ve been just trying to keep up with the constant flow of videos and products. Websites don’t make the money they used to make with pretty much every brand taking their marketing to Instagram, Facebook and Youtube and becoming less reliant on websites and guys like me. I juggle the site with a few different jobs that help make it possible to keep the site going, but I’m not making the money that is needed to go to all the events or having the ability to create or hire contributors for a ton of original content. I’m split between the site, handling the different social media channels for Flybikes, doing I.T and more for a local trucking company here. I’m also getting another business up and running with two friends at the moment as well. I wear a lot of different hats, but it keeps things interesting and has allowed me to continue running the site.

What made you want to start The Union? The Union started out as a college project, actually. I was assigned a semester long project that had me show how blogging can reach many people from around the world. Prior to that, I had already been playing around with websites, and I was filming and shooting photos of all my friends that rode. I had started teaching myself how to build a website around 7th grade (around 2002) when there were a lot of free website builders like Geocities. For the project, I decided to just start interviewing Pro riders and industry guys and it kind of started rolling from there. I passed the class and then kept the site going. It has been growing and changing as the time went on. It has been 10 years as of September. Pretty crazy how fast time flies.

What are some of the events you have went to and any memorable memories? I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a lot of events over the past 10 years from X Games in Los Angeles, Austin and Minneapolis, Dew Tours all over, Red Bull events like Stomping Grounds in Chicago and the first Dreamline that was oddly enough only 40 minutes from where I grew up in Minnesota. Add in too many trips to Las Vegas for Interbike, Texas Toast in Austin, road trips with the Milwaukee crew all over to events like the Toronto BMX Jam and the Welcome Jam at the Potoczny’s in Pittsburgh. Each event definitely had their own memorable moments. Just meeting so many amazing people from all over has been some of the best moments. It’s crazy thinking about all the places, experiences and people I have been fortunate enough to experience in that time.

What social media platform is your biggest drive for The Union? The biggest social media platform for the site is Facebook with over 520,000 fans at the moment. Unfortunately with Facebook constantly changing their algorithms and basically expecting brands to pay to be seen in peoples feeds these days, it’s not quite what it used to be. Fortunately, there are a lot of different outlets from Google to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, Flipboard and more to help reach as many people as possible.

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What is your main goal with The Union? Have you stayed on that goal since you started the company? The goal of The Union has changed and altered over time. It started out really just as something for me to ask interesting people in the industry questions to get to know them a little better. As things started taking off, it became a platform to give people some well deserving shine time. I was always a fan of doing interviews with up and coming riders that nobody really heard of, then see them go on to make a name for themselves through their riding. As time went on, I started putting more focus on products which has always been an interest to me. I’ve always been stoked to check out the new products and see the evolution and technology that has gone into bikes over the years. As time has gone on, it has transitioned into more of a focus on products, the latest videos and news from riders and brands all over the world. The number of videos coming out every day is insane compared to when it started. It’s a lot of work to keep up with, especially being a one man show. The one thing that has stayed the same over the years is that the site has never been about me. I try hard to stay behind the scenes more because I want the focus to be on the people that are doing good things on their bikes.

Who are some people you are glad to meet and talk to over the years in BMX? Oh man… That’s a long list of people that could go on. I’ve been fortunate to meet so many riders and industry guys in the past 10 years. I always geek out when I cross paths with Mat Hoffman and try my best to act like I’m not completely freaking out in my head, haha. David Quesada at Flybikes and John Povah at Etnies are two guys that I’m always appreciative of since they have done so much for me over the years to keep everything going and just opening up opportunities for me that I’ve been very fortunate to have. Can’t forget guys like Ronnie Bonner and the Sparky’s crew, Nuno, Jim Bauer and crew at Odyssey / Sunday, Robbie Morales and the Cult Crew, everyone at Kink, Paul, Dave and Harry at Wethepeople / Eclat, all the guys out in Milwaukee, especially Jon Wells and Jeff Dowhen. So many local riders in the Minnesota area, too. I could go on and on. Pretty much everybody I’ve had the chance to meet over the years through BMX have been awesome and I think everyone has made some sort of impact. Especially the people I’ve been able to work on projects or go on trips with. So many names flying through my head right now, haha.

Do you have any inspiring words you would like to tell anyone reading this? Do what makes you happy and enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to get out of your box and experience everything you can. Never be afraid to go into things without a plan and just see what happens, you would be amazed at what can come from it. I would never have become the person I am today without BMX. I can trace so many things I do or know back to BMX in some way and it has been a really crazy ride so far.

Are there any extra words you would like in the article? Thanks for the interview. It was a fun reminder of all the amazing people, places and experiences that have come from the last 10 years. Big thank you to everyone who has been apart of it or supported it along the way!

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