Gearhead Grip + Electric

Posted by Valerie Taylor on

Portland, Oregon based Gearhead is a perfect example of growing business that is key to the American success story. Owned by Joel Stirnkorb and Greg Schmitt, who work as Gaffers and DPs when not involved in the company, Gearhead started as one owner/operator with a small truck and has developed into 11 vehicles, dollies, generators – and is still growing. Most of their rentals are geared to the commercial world – especially for Nike and Adidas, the two big shoemakers headquartered in Portland. In addition, they serve small Indie productions and are the grip house of choice for the television series Portlandia. And, recently, they’ve been doing a significant resale in support of the two large stop motion animation houses in the area – Laika and Bent Image Labs.

“A great deal of our support comes from Matthews,” says Don Rohrbacker, General Manager for Gearhead. Rohrbacker has had a significant relationship with MSE since 1985, and has carried that to every company he’s been associated with. “That’s because MSE’s staff has always been the most professional and personable of any manufacturer,” he says. “Bob Kulesh, Rick Hansen, Pamela Hoffman and Edmundo Gonzalez stand out. And, of course, there’s no matching the graciousness of Ed Phillips.

“Nor is there anyone matching the quality of MSE equipment,” he adds. “It’s always the small things that are often overlooked but are vitally important. For some reason, the Jr. Matth-Boom, a piece unique to MSE, is one thing that we can’t do without. We’ve stocked up on this piece as almost every shoot of any size takes one.

“We recently ordered both models of the FloatCam DC and HD-DC Slider,” Rohrbacker says. “We consider it a game-changer. Already most of our orders go out with a Slider, replacing many Dolly orders. This is a great leap forward. The ability to tilt as well as slide adds a third dimension to camera movement.”

For Rohrbacker and the team at Gearhead, there is far more to the relationship with MSE than the personality behind the company. It’s the quality of the equipment and MSE’s ability to fulfill whatever need Gearhead has – with a smooth road from MSE to Gearhead – and a quality that is unmatchable. “They have always been the best at service and support,” says Rohrbacker. “And, generally, at the best price as well.

“The MSE team is always there for us for special service whenever we need it,” he adds. “We’ve had trouble getting a replacement part of a very old Super Crank Stand, which still works fine, except for this one piece. Finally, Rick custom manufactured it for us and delivered it to us at the Cinegear show!”

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