Monday, January 21, 2008

BLC and a plea to my industry friends;

The weekend's BLC conference was amazing. I have never been before and, like my trip to DC last March for the National Bike Summit, I came away energized and wanting to do more for the industry. You can expect to hear more about this from me in the coming months and years. I left DC last year full of ideas and desire to make a difference and to help enact change... but life caught up with me and time vanished. I am sure some of my drive and desire this time will suffer the same fate, but I am going to make more of an effort to help drive the cycling industry forward on the important goal of advocacy and developing more and safer infrastructure for all cyclists. It is clear to me that we, the cycling industry, can and should do more to support advocacy issues and that we need a far greater level of cooperation between all players in the industry. Two very smart women, Nicole DeHoratius and Robbie Kellman Baxter, were hired as outside researchers to evaluate many things about the industry. One of the major things they learned was that there is an insane level of paranoia and distrust among members/ companies in the industry. Of all the industries they have worked in, they have never seen such a level of distrust and unwillingness to either comment on the record or share information/ data about their businesses. That really hit me hard as I thought about the challenges facing my beloved bike industry. Without a greater level of cooperation and a willingness to share and collect some quantifiable data, the industry is doomed to failure and further erosion of sales growth.

I am a very small person within the cycling industry- I just happen to be one of the more loudmouthed. My realm of influence is pretty microscopic, but I can't sit complacently and watch things deteriorate further. I am making a plea to all of my like-minded brothers and sisters in the industry, from retailer to manufacturer, to get involved, share your data with the BPSA and drop the paranoia and let's all work to grow this industry to a higher level of profitability and overall health by applying our efforts to increased advocacy. I am making a pledge to do my part- however small- to meet that goal. I will be offering whatever help I can to John Nedeau and the BPSA. I will be getting my hands dirty with advocacy issues. I will be talking about important issues and will be advocating for change. I'm going to do my best to have my actions support my words. If I don't, I have no reason to hope to have an industry to work in 10, 20, 25 years from now.

I happen to know that many people within the cycling industry read this silly blog and I am hoping that they will read these words and let a few of them sink in. Without better cooperation among brands and a willingness to do the hard work ahead and dedicate resources to building a better future, we can all kiss this business good-bye. Personally, I want to stay in this business for many more years. Hopefully you will too.

Don't hesitate- get involved, volunteer, make a difference.

John Burke, President/ CEO of Trek Bicycle Company gave an incredible presentation and "opened the kimono" on his business to a room full of "competitors" in an effort to provoke change. Do I see eye to eye with John or Trek all the time? Hell no. But he was absolutely correct in his plea to get others in the industry involved in working towards a better cycling industry and a better world at large. It was one of the best presentations I've sat through in years and I'm glad I was at the BLC to see and hear it. Trek has launched a program called One World, Two Wheels. I recommend that you check it out. I am forced to give John and Trek a big round of applause for the work they've begun with this program. It's pretty impressive and very ambitious. But we have to start somewhere and why not aim high?

The bike industry has been my home for the better part of 26 years now. It's all I really know. It's certainly the one thing I have loved the longest in my life and it has, in turn, been pretty good to me. It's my turn (and all of our turns) to give a little something back. So I hope you, my fellow industry members, will join me and get more involved. I know I have a lot to learn from this process and hopefully I can contribute something to the ultimate greater good of the planet, the people who live on it and the bike industry too.



KY said...

Amen brother.

Fritz said...

Wow, it sounds like it went well. The lack of transparency in the bike biz is interesting. The 90s buzzword in the computer industry was "coopetition" -- cooperation with competition at the same time, and that's the world I'm accustomed to.

I'm glad you're stoked about this all .

Sparke said...

I sat next to Tim during the conference and echo his sentiments to a tee. Ritchey is upping our commitment to advocacy organizations and also respectfully thanks Burke and Trek for stepping up.

Today, it starts with me.


Rich Kelly said...

Great to spend some time with you at the BLC. Good for the industry to have your passion in play now for the future. I re-upped my commitment to the BPSA marketing/membership committee for a second year.

It was really good to me you in San Diego. Look forward to seeing you at the next industry event...


Kk said...

Thanks for the reports on this Tim. The tribe is evolving! Great time to be a part of our awesome sport.

Donna T. said...

But, Tim...I trust you....

Seriously, though, it's interesting that the study findings are that those in the industry don't trust each other. I find this industry to be the most open to each other (think Interbike - good times with lots of other companies). Want to see no cooperation? Look at the shoe industry...

Also, our customers are very open and transparent through their forum participation and blogging. So...we don't trust each other? Curious finding.

However, what I do know is that we all do need to support the actual act of cycling more often and better. Yes, yes, yes. Support grass roots events. Support safe routes to schools. Support bike rodeos for the kids. Support bike valet programs. Yes, yes, yes. Help to get more people on bikes by making it easier for them to be on bikes. Agreed.

I see that SRAM takes this all to heart. Did you see about their huge advocacy donations? Bravo!

So, Tim...let's collaborate to do our small part to move the industry forward. I'm open to ideas...

kind1 said...

I love the call for more advocacy but I sometimes wonder what is the underlying motivation. We all know more bikes will help the world but the message always comes down to "selling more bikes" and that leaves me a little jaded. Interested in what your thoughts are.

What surprised me the most about the conference is that our industry needed an outside voice to tell us that we suffer from SKU proliferation and that the casual rider feels intimidated when shopping for a bike.

This message seems to get repeated over and over again but to this point has not been addressed by any of the big players in a meaningful way.

Hopefully enough people start to act on both of these messages and we start to turn the ship around.