I know that for the past several weeks, the real meaty posts have been kind of missing around here. I have to admit that the "real job" part of the job has been getting the better of me. I won't bore you with all the details, but I'll give you a little peek at things...
As you have read me say in the past, I really don't like the use of model years and we are trying to get away from using them altogether, but for lack of a better label I will say that the bulk of my time has been eaten up with developing bikes for 2007. We're in 2006 now, so I don't really have to worry about those bikes, outside of trying to sell them (wanna buy a bike?). There isn't much I can do about those bikes now- they have to sink or swim on their own merits now. Although, I am still working on getting the new website built. Hopefully that will be done fairly soon. The next series of products though, those are in full development. Right now, the "core" of the line is done and just needs to have spec finalized and the colors/ graphics completed and we are rolling full steam ahead on those items. The new additions to the product range are still going through development and that takes a ton of effort. Masi basically consists of me and our Senior Product Development Manager. He and I work in tandem, though not on a tandem, to come up with what we hope will be the bikes you will all buy. Admitedly, we have a darned good idea of what these bikes will be before we even get to this point, but now is the crunch time as we try to finalize things in time to get the products rolling into production or samples made for testing. For example, the track racing frame that I raced this past season is going into production (you're going to love it) and I am working on getting a couple of the frames ready for testing by a few riders I am working with (names withheld to protect the innocent). I am pretty confident they will like the ride of the frames, but I still have to get the bikes under them so they can offer feedback. Feedback is a big part of making bikes. Next is the tri/TT bike. Development is close to being done, on paper, then we go to the sample frames to test. I'm really thrilled about this too because I'm really a bike geek and these things really get me excited. Plus, I need to get the guys on A&F/Inferno riding these frames this year so I can get that Pro feedback- it's a bit different than my feedback. So there is a lot going on with product, a lot more than I mention here.
As a Brand Manager, I also have internal functions that are not unlike a Sales Manager. That means that I work with our inside sales folks, our outside sales reps and then the retailers and even consumers (though usually only through the blog here or the company website- I get all the web inquiries). This puts me in a really busy spot, but a cool one too. I mean, think about it; I get to work with our own folks who are a bit of a captive audience, the sales reps who have other products and product/ sales managers that require their time, the retailers who put the bikes on the sales floor and try to sell them and then finally the people who actually open their wallets and buy the bikes. To my knowledge, there aren't a lot of positions where you get to do that. I feel like I have a pretty unique position. My task is to get all of these various folks to understand why my bikes are worth buying. Sometimes that means arguing with people who would prefer to see me hung up by my toenails for trying to do my job... but I won't re-hash that struggle now. Honestly, not really considering myself to be a real "sales person", I like getting to try and sell these bikes.
Now let's talk about the excitement of the new team. I'm excited about these guys, if you couldn't already tell. It's a lot of work though, even as just the frame sponsor. Making sure that things happen, working on schedules, writing press releases (I write all of my own releases), talking to other sponsors to develop potential cross-marketing options and then interacting with the team director (who is very easy to work with and a great guy, so I'm not complaining). It's a lot of coordination and effort though, but I love it because I know what it's like to be a team rider and how hard the sport is. I love the sport and I am very happy to get to be a part of it like this now. Abercrombie & Fitch is an incredible company with some phenomenal marketing power, so I am really hoping to get to work with them to some extent- well, any extent I can.
Travel is going to be a bigger part of things soon too. First up is Texas this month, next month is still open, March is the Midwest (St. Louis), April is Texas again, and then the following months are being planned now. I intend to get to a few of the events that the team will be racing in as well as trying to do some racing myself. Sea Otter is looking like a possibility, though I am not sure I'll be racing and will likely be working and maybe helping the team too.
There are a lot of other little things that aren't really worth discussing, simply because they are just the usual little things that are part of every job. Answering the phone just as you're heading to lunch (or a ride) and not getting off the phone for another hour- that kind of stuff.
Throw blogging into all of this and you have a lot things that make up a day. Oh yeah and trolling the internet looking for references to Masi, seeing what is happening with competitors, reading forum discussions, developing marketing/ advertising ideas, staying caught up on current news, events and what-not in cycling and the industry... and trying to spend a couple of hours awake with the family before getting up in the morning and doing it again.
Wow, I really sound like I'm whining here... but I swear I'm not. I love my job and that is part of what gives me the energy and incentive to be doing this at 11:00PM at night, showing you what I've been "up to" recently. It's a worthy struggle to me. I hope it proves to be worth it to you too.