Would it surprise you if I told you one of SuperATV’s design engineers has gotten his wife to go into labor by taking her creek crawling in his RZR? No? What if I told you that if he didn’t cut his teeth designing bath tubs, you might never have gotten some of SuperATV’s most defining parts?
That’s Justin Eaton for you, and there’s no way you can accuse him of thinking inside the box. He found an uncommon path to SuperATV where he helps bring some of our most ambitious projects to life.
Before SuperATV Justin was living out of a van in the hills of Tennessee. He bathed in mountain springs—ironic considering his day job had him designing bath tubs. Not the most glorious occupation, but he claims “it ended up being just what I needed to transition into my best career move yet.”
Sometimes all it takes to land your dream job is a little perseverance and a dash of good fortune. He was looking to relocate to Indiana and had a resume in at SuperATV, but as with any serious job search, it was hard to get his hopes up for any certain outcome. A while later, he took the weekend off to visit his family who already lived in Indiana and happened to get a call from SuperATV to set up an interview. He jumped on the opportunity and drove the 30 minutes from his family’s home to SuperATV and interviewed that same day. It was perfect timing and he landed a job as a design engineer.
The job of a design engineer is to take an idea or concept and create a 3D CAD model that represents the finished product exactly—down to every last micron and every specific material. He honed his design skills by designing bath tubs, and now he was ready to take on the off-road world.
Behind the Wheel
It was a natural fit for him. Even in his youth he had powersports on the brain. “I got my first yard go-kart when I was about 10. I was dirty from then on.” His dad was a mechanic and together they started a small go-kart racing team. The successes of Justin’s go-kart team fed into his life-long love of fuel-filled fun.
He hopes to get back into racing one day. Lord knows he’s got the kids to put together a killer racing team. “My wife and I have 3 beautiful girls and an octane filled boy. I’m the dad that will randomly take the family van through our RZR track.” With stunts like that, it’s only a matter of time before his kids are jonesing for the driver’s seat.
He doesn’t normally take his van offroading but instead spends most of his time in his RZR 1000. He says it will do just about everything he wants. A great all-around machine. He’s spent time with the Maverick X3 and the Yamaha YXZ as well and doesn’t have any complaints about them either. “I really think the Mav Trail will prove to be a good addition to the UTV family too.”
If he’s not ripping it up on a short track, you’ll find him trail riding in the forest. He says his favorite thing to do is to take a trail deep into the forest or up to the top of a mountain way out in the middle of nowhere, turn the RZR off, and just listen. (If you’ve never done this you’re missing out.)
Justin doesn’t just let his RZR 1000 sit with stock parts on it. He gets to see all of SuperATV’s parts in action first hand, so when it’s time to upgrade he knows exactly what he wants. His most recent additions were a full protection kit with front and rear bumpers, and a stage 2 ECU tune, and he’s had a lot of success with both. As you can imagine from that minivan business, he tends to get a little wild on the trails. That stage 2 ECU tune lets him get even wilder. That’s where the full protection kit comes in. It takes all the extra punishment he throws at it and keeps his ride in one piece.
Looking down the road a bit, he wants to upgrade to a new set of RT Warriors. These are SuperATV’s brand new rock tires and they’ll be able to take him wherever he wants to go. They’re more than just for rocks, though—those creek beds and hills he loves to climb are ideal opponents for RT warriors.
With winter in full swing, he’s got his eye on a cab enclosure and snow plow as well. Why not make your favorite toy do a little work in the off season? And why not be comfortable while you’re doing it? A good cab enclosure keeps out all the elements, and the engine will radiate heat into the cab keeping you warm even without a heater.
Designs on Portals
Maybe you’ve seen Justin on Destination Polaris talking about Bad Blood. He’s the one with the beard. The big one. He was the primary engineer on that build and designed the chassis, skid plates, and windshield among other things. Working on Bad Blood allowed him to stretch a little because his main focus is on drive train components; most notably Rhino 2.0 axles and Portal Gear Lifts. He was the primary designer for the original GDP Portal Gear Lifts and our Gen 2 Portals which we just recently released. He’s a big reason why you love them so much.
When SuperATV started dreaming up its own version of the Portal Gear Lift concept, Justin dove right in. “The design stage for Portals was a roller coaster full of great ideas and failed prototypes.” Some of these prototypes included incredibly heavy and bulky hubs that would make a better safe than a portal lift. Nothing worth doing comes easy, though, and Justin had portals in his thoughts all day and night for months. “I put a lot of sweat and blood into these portals and have the scars to prove it. ”
The job wasn’t done once they had a solid design that looked an awful lot like the GDP Portal Gear Lift we have today. The devil’s in the details, as they say, and Justin helped exorcise all the portal demons by endlessly tweaking materials, bends, and bearings until all the points of failure were eradicated and every detail was optimized.
The effort was worth it. Go to any powersports or offroad event with lots of UTVs now and I guarantee you’ll see dozens of vehicles running SuperATV Portals. They’re popular all across the country and around the world. “In the beginning, I didn’t see the value in portals like the leaders of this company did. I didn’t understand the benefit they would have in hill climbing, desert racing, and rock bouncing. Boy was I wrong!” When they finally got their first good prototype together, Justin took it out for a spin. He went from a skeptic to a believer in just one ride.
Getting Portals to market didn’t mean he was done with portals for good. Far from it. Every year there are new vehicles to fit portals to, and more recently, we released our Gen 2 Portals to the world.
GDP Portal Gear Lifts have been a huge success and motivator for Justin. He’s always itching to outdo himself and come up with innovating new ideas. He loves the projects he’s worked on. Portal Gear Lifts and Rhino 2.0 Axles rank among his top choices for SuperATV parts, but he’s always looking ahead to the next thing.
“You never know what’s behind the doors of the SuperATV think tank. That’s my favorite part of SuperATV.”