The More Things Change…

… the more they stay the same. This is the third consecutive year I’ve had a gap in employment. I was having an okay time working at BikeStreet in Greenville. There were good times and bad times, but overall it was an okay experience for the year that I was there.  I loved working with most of the people I worked with. I loved developing relationships at the two stores I managed. As with most companies and businesses, there were some internal issues. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the bottom line is that the management of the company didn’t feel the need to keep me on board, so they terminated me.

I was surprised, hurt, and I’ll probably never talk to some people in the company again, simply because I don’t want to bring up any harsh feelings I may still have towards them or the company. That’s the way it goes with separations. Sometimes, they need to be permanent.  It’s tough when you commit yourself, and your family, by relocating to take a new job. Especially, when it’s on your own dime. Even more so when you stretch you and your family to the absolute physical and mental limits, and still seem to come up short. Getting let go like that really sucked in some aspects, but it’s really exciting in others. At that point, you know something is going to have to change, and you have the opportunity to take control of the situation, directing it where you want to go.

I’ve been doing some soul searching over the past month of unemployment. Lots of questioning myself on whether or not I want to stay in this industry, and if so, what is the magic formula to making a cycling industry job work for me?  I’m kind of sick of being pushed to be so aggressive in selling bikes to people.  Don’t get me wrong… I like helping people get on the bike of their dreams. It’s awesome to see someone new take to the sport, and fully embrace the passion that I’ve gotten out of it myself. The problem I have is in the cutthroat games that bike shops and companies play to one-up or undercut the other shop down the road. I mean, obviously, the bottom line is the bottom line.  You have to make money to keep the doors open.  I get that.  The problem with bikes is there’s no money in the bikes themselves.  They’ve almost become a loss-leader. Fred Clements, Executive Director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, published an article where he called bikes “the Black Hole of IBD profitability.”  So, what does a bike shop look like if you take bikes out of the equation?

I’ve always dreamed of opening my own shop. I’ve had visions of grandeur, and seen plenty of amazing shops all across the country, through travels, and by researching them on my own time.  I would love to open my own studio-style bike shop, specializing in high-end, custom builds… something not every cyclist understands, but not something certain cyclists need, either.  The primary focus and driving goal behind my “perfect shop,” would be simply doing the best job that I can to give the customer a premium experience, every time. I would want customers to leave the store wide-eyed and excited about cycling, every time they walk out of the shop.

So, I’ve had my hand forced. I was booted out of one job, and now I need to find something to do. My current game plan is not to open the shop of my dreams, with Pegoretti frames on the walls and the bitter smell of a good cup of espresso in the air, but to simply get the proverbial ball rolling.  I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I’m going to branch out, take the leap, and start working on bikes on my own.  In front of me, right now, are forms I need to complete to start my own bicycle service business.  I can’t sink a ton of money into it. I don’t have it.  I want to get back to what I’m good at… making bikes perform well.

When my job is executed to perfection, the rider won’t be thinking about the bike at all.  There won’t be any noises. There won’t be any issues. When I lay my hands on a bike, my ultimate goal is for my client to transcend from a simple bike ride, into an enhanced cycling experience.  I will settle for nothing less.

So, here’s my deal… I’m starting back to school to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. I changed my major from Religion, which I enjoy learning about, to Business Administration, focusing on Marketing. I have a feeling that the change of major will offer me more options down the road, in or out of the bike industry. In the meantime, while I am earning my degree, I will be taking on a few clients for service, select repair jobs, and contract work, as I have done in the past.  If something comes up in the future, I may take another job, but I’ll still try to squeeze in some small jobs to take care of friends and clients.

I’m not the biggest game in town. I worked for them, and it drove me crazy. I won’t be doing the cheapest work in town. I take my work seriously, get the job done to perfection, the first time, and I charge accordingly. If you want to buy a bike… I’m not a shop.  I’m a professional bicycle mechanic. If you want that level of service and attention to detail, we should talk.

For inquiries, to make an appointment for service, or for more questions about potential contract mechanic or consulting work, e-mail me at probikewrench@gmail.com, or call (864) 986-0452 and leave a message.  Thank you all for your continued support and friendship.

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