Friday, October 21, 2005

Thank you Jim Ford.

It is unlikely that many of you will know who Jim Ford is, but that is only because he is not like me and does not stand in front of his brand/s and make a lot of noise. His track record and accomplinshments in the bike industry, especially with the Haro family of brands, speaks volumes though.

Jim Ford has been with Haro Bicycles for the past 24 years. That alone is an amazing feat in the bike industry. In this industry, where people frequently jump from company to company to find the better offer, 24 years is sort of like the "dog years" analogy. One year in the bike industry is like seven in any other.

For most of that time, Jim has served as the President of the company and has ushered Haro through phenomenal growth in both sales and stature. Haro had been seen as a premier freestyle and BMX brand when he came to the company to work with the founder, Bob Haro. After Bob left and the ownership of the brand changed, Jim stewarded the brand through tremendous growth and brought people to the company who would help him oversee the growth. The brain trust of people who have walked through the doors of the building is pretty impressive (my self included of course- he did hire me after all).

Haro always had a great reputation and was respected, but Jim helped to lead the company into the position of being THE freestyle/BMX brand in the US and took it to other countries as well. Jim is the first person to tell you that it was not an individual accomplishment and that he was made to look good by the people he was surrounded by (not that he has been sharing his paycheck with me), but he does get the credit for facilitating this growth and these accomplishments. Jim was the guy who brought on professional riders like Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist. Both of these riders have helped to catapult Haro into the leader's position in the market.

It was also Jim who had the vision to spread the company wings to include mountain bikes and eventually to purchase Masi Bicycles as well. Now the family includes Haro BMX, Haro ATB, Del Sol cruisers, Premium Products BMX parts and accessories and Masi road bikes. He's had a very good eye for the brand image and how to protect it while growing overall sales in the company. Like all companies in the bike industry, Haro saw ups and downs in sales and growth, but the vision always remained the same and the brand always maintained a strong position in a dwindling market. Good leadership will do that.

Why do I say all of these great things about my boss? Well, my review is due and I'm hoping to get an office with a window, but more importantly because Jim is leaving us to try his magic touch on something else. After 24 years with the company, he's taken Haro to places nobody ever would have forseen. He's ready for a chance to try something new, something different, something that will test him again. Although we all hate to see him leave, we also all wish him the best. My only regret is that I only had the time to work with him for a year, as I am sure I would have learned a lot more from him over time. I only wish now that I knew how to play golf so I could pick his brain on the course.

Though I can not officially speak for all of the folks at Haro, I can speak for all of us at Masi... since it is only me... Jim, you will be greatly missed by us. We all wish you the best and sincerely hope you'll swing by the office for a lunchtime ride from time to time.

Here's to you Boss!


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