THE HISTORY OF RED OXX MANUFACTURING – EST. 1986.
HUMBLE ORIGINS – FROM CALF TO OXX.
All journeys begin with a first step. For Red Oxx this step was taken by CEO Jim Markel’s veteran father, Jim Senior. After Jim Senior, Capt. Ret. completed his 20 years of military service, including time spent with both the Green Beret in the Army and as a Special Forces Officer in the Marine Corps Recon, he decided to retire here in Billings, Montana. A lifetime around parachutes included tours as a Jump Master, Parachute Rigger and S.F. Team Leader would contribute to the birth of the Oxx. Along the way, he maintained a passion for fitness and decided to create and sell some unique gym workout accessories. Captain Markel’s skills as a Rigger came in handy when creating lifting straps and weight belts. Crafting fitness products one at a time in his home’s basement, Jim Senior set in motion the vehicle that would one day grow into the Red Oxx the world recognizes today. “Back in 1986, our first products were made from military surplus webbing that had been slated for decommissioning.” says Jim Senior. This bootstrapping philosophy was thus genetically coded into the birth of the company. As each new lifting product was introduced and accepted by the local market, it became apparent that sales were fast outstripping the production capability of one man. Time to bring in the number one veteran son Jim Markel Junior, “We were both in the military for a small overlap, then Dad retired. I continued on active service in Marine Corps Recon. After I got out my Dad came down to Colorado and asked me to join him working with his fledgling fitness products company in Billings, Montana.” says Jim Jr.. Father and son then worked together to assemble a variety of sewing production machines. Eventually it was planned to move to a “real” factory location. No more cramped basement now, goodbye to spillover into the garage. The final straw was turning the kitchen range into a webbing cutter with a clever air “vent” in the form of a box fan in the kitchen window. At this point, they were garnering contracts from such notable names in the fitness industry as Weider, Parabody and local lifters Gold’s Gym, to name a few. As the company grew and diversified it was time to make some changes. Jim Senior moved on with other ideas and no longer works for Red Oxx, leaving the company in the capable hands of his son Jim Jr.. It was then that Navy veteran Perry Jones, also former Naval Parachute Rigger, joined the crew as company President. CEO Jim Jr. decided to expand to a line of rifle cases and shooting accessories for the local Montana sportsman market. The first factory and retail store combination was selected for its central location and low overhead. While locating the business in a blighted area was not the original plan, it turned out to be an excellent financial strategy over the long haul. Today, the Red Oxx manufacturing production facility is still located just down the street, now in its eighth location with plenty of room to expand. “Over the years, we’ve stayed connected to the local economy as our business expanded beyond the confines of Montana.” says Jim Jr. (hereby referred to simply as Jim).