“I Can’t Really Tell What You Do…”

About a month ago, I sat in on a NBDA Webinar. Following the webinar, the host reached out to me to see if we could discuss his product and whether or not we could develop a business connection. The first line of his email read, “In looking at your site, I am not sure what you do beside attend PBMA trainings and help B.R.A write their uplifting blogs.” Although I think that’s a HORRIBLE way to lead off when making an introduction to a potential business connection, I totally understand where he was coming from. I don’t update this blog nearly enough, and I haven’t kept up to date with everything I’ve had going on over the last several years. I guess it’s probably time for an update on what’s been keeping me busy…

My Family, September 2021
  • Family – I got remarried in 2019, to my lovely wife, Jessica. That brought our two families together, for a total of 6 people in our household (the two of us, plus my two girls and her two girls). In January of 2021, our son, Andrew, was born. I never thought I’d have such a big family (or have a newborn after my 40th birthday), but here we are. Definitely staying busy with our crazy crew!
  • Trek Store of Greenville – The COVID-19 pandemic has been very good our business. While others were forced to stay at home and work remotely, we were overrun with new bike sales and service. In 20 years of working in bike shops, I’ve never seen a boom like this. I’m sales manager at the shop, so it’s been an interesting few years.
  • Palmetto Cycling Coalition – From 2002-2004, I served on the Board of Directors’ for the PCC. After traveling around between race mechanic work, moving to Georgia and back, and other time-consuming tasks, I joined the Board of Directors again in 2018. After a few good years of service, I stepped into the role of Board Chair in July 2021. My passion for bicycling and pedestrian advocacy has never been stronger. We look to make big strides in advocacy in 2022-2023, and beyond.
  • PBMA – The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association is an organization that I am extremely passionate about. For years, I have heard the repeated jabs of, “when are you going to get a REAL job?” A lot of people don’t regard the job of bicycle mechanic as a legitimate career. I would argue that it is a very important job, and have proven that you can make a living doing it. The goals of the PBMA is to promote the career of bicycle mechanics, develop them professionally, and advocate for better pay and benefits for bicycle mechanics around the world. I was chosen as the PBMA’s “Mechanic of the Year,” in 2007, and have joined the Board of Directors, as of July 2021.

In addition to those duties listed above, I have a few other side projects in the works, which should come to fruition in early 2022. Stay tuned for more updates…



I had the opportunity to collaborate on an article about how brands and shops partner up to create successful relationships and stimulate growth. Thanks to Michael Irwin and Bottle Rocket Advisors for the opportunity.  Please read and leave a comment, if so inclined.


PBMA Dulles Workshop – Days 2 & 3

20180207_075058[1]The second and third days of the PBMA Dulles Workshop were as packed with information as the first day, if not more so.

All the seminar attendees began Day Two with a panel discussion about the future of service in our industry. Panelists included Ed Reynolds (PBMA Board Member, Clemmons Bicycle Shop), Jenny Kallista (PBMA Board Member, Appalachian Bicycle Institute), and myself. It was a great discussion panel. Several members of the crowd participated, and several participants appoached us following the discussion for more conversation. The buzzwords around the discussion and the workshop seemed to be “service-only,” “mobile,” and, “consumer-direct.” Take that for what it’s worth. More thoughts to come…

Here’s a breakdown of what my group did on Day Two:

SRAM –  Great hands-on clinic.  We did a remote lever bleed on a RockShox Reverb dropper post, overhauled a Charger 2 damper for a RockShox Pike, and bled a new SRAM Guide hydraulic disc brake.  I learned a lot, and Ed and Simon had great tips on how to sell suspension service and upgrades to customers.


Stan’s No Tubes–  We learned a lot about the history and technology that has led Stan’s to be the industry’s leader in tubeless products.  This clinic taught us a lot about different conversions, materials used in sealant, what makes a tubeless rim and tire combination work, and more ways to be profitable by selling tubeless technology to those that come in our shops.

Magura–  I thoroughly enjoyed the Magura session in Dulles.  Jude Monica, who is really a legend in our industry (and overall great dude), instructed us on how hydraulic brakes work, including some really in-depth drawings of a lever and caliper.  The Magura staff also showed us new technology, like their wireless dropper post (WANT), and instructed us on how to properly bleed a Magura brake.


Ruckus Composites –  This seminar, although not really a hands-on period of instruction, was one of my favorites.  Carbon, one of the most widely-used materials in bike and component construction, is very mysterious to some people.  The guys at Ruckus spent time explaining the material, then showed examples of their carbon repair process.  The things that they can do to repair and salvage a broken carbon frame is RIDICULOUS.  If you can imagine it, they can probably make it happen, AND paint it to match the old paint job.  I was severely impressed.

We finished the evening with a networking event in the lobby. I got to spend some time meeting with new industry folks, catching up with old friends, and sharing war stories with seasoned mechanics. That was a really fun time, and I hope the PBMA continues to integrate that into their events.

Day Three began with a talk by Mike Reisenleiter (Winged Wheel Development), entitled, “Service Profits and the Future of Retail.” His talk took a look deeper into the state of bicycle retail, both now and in the not-so-distant future. The buzzwords kept coming back into the picture, but Mike presented numbers that demonstrated that brick-and-mortar stores are not all going away, but the landscape of how we do business is changing. I found his talk to be very interesting, and plan on discussing these topics with him more in the near future.

The next presentation was from Brett Flemming (Efficient Velo Tools).  A former service manager for multiple Bike Gallery locations in Portland, Oregon, Brett followed his passion for tools and founded his own company several years ago.  EVT has now become his main job, in addition to speaking gigs around the country with PBMA.  I heard Brett speak in Atlanta at a NBDA seminar around ten years ago, and the message remained mostly the same: your quality and customer service should never be compromised, and that will set you above the rest.  I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and the conversation with Brett over the course of my time in Dulles.


The rest of the final day concluded with two three-hour seminars.  The first was the PBMA eTech seminar, taught by Ed Benjamin of the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA).  Ed is probably the BEST resource for general e-bike knowledge in the United States.  We learned a lot of basic e-bike knowledge, parts, and tools we would need to repair e-bikes.  LEVA also offers other advanced certifications to allow mechanics to level up their knowledge and be a better technician for our customers.


The last clinic of the event was the Campagnolo Tech Clinic.  The Campy N.A. crew did a great job teaching us about the history of the company, EPS (Campagnolo’s Electronic Groupsets), the MyCampy app, and their new hydraulic road disc brakes (which is styled and functions a LOT like a Magura brake… ). I have never seen a rotor with a more rounded edge on it, which should silence critics of road disc technology.


All in all, the PBMA Technical Workshop was a great event, and offered certifications and continuing education units that will be helpful in maintaining my mechanic certification and increasing my effectiveness around my shop.  I would highly recommend these events in the future, as I’m sure they will expand to other regions of the country and also modify the courses of instruction as time passes.

Winning at Retail

My good friend, Mike Irwin (Bottle Rocket Advisors), recently asked for some help with a blog post he was writing about retail habits of successful salespeople. I was excited to help. Here’s the link to the finished product:


Wins, Losses, and Customer Shaming

I just read an unnerving post in a local cycling group’s Facebook feed. The page manager, who is one of our guests, bought a bike online, and made mention of it in the group. I didn’t see the initial post, but saw a retraction and apology from my friend, which came about because someone gave him crap for not buying from local shops (I’m assuming it was a local shop… most random cyclists don’t care about supporting local shops… just those invested in the shops).

Here’s the skinny on bike shop guys: we love loyal customers. At my current shop, we do our best to build RAVING customers, who believe in our brand (not the bike company, but our shop and staff), and who bring in their friends to give them the opportunity to experience the best introduction to cycling that we can provide.

When we see a good friend and customer come into our shop with a bike purchased somewhere else, it stings a little. We really want our customers to fully buy into what we’re selling. Is it the be-all, end-all of the relationship with that customer? Not a chance. Every time someone walks through our doors is another chance for us to knock their socks off with customer service. Do we shame our customer for buying something elsewhere? No. We continue to support our customer in any way we can, regardless of which bike the customer brings in.

What about internet bikes? Why not support the local shop? I completely understand a shop owner or staffer getting a little upset over internet purchases. I’ve gotten a little irate about the way things are in reference to online sales, gray market component prices, and poor quality knock-off bits through back door channels. Guess what? It’s not worth losing a customer over. There are some things we won’t work on and some things we won’t do, for safety and liability reasons. We have a responsibility to educate and inform our customers that we will provide a better level of service than an online retailer. If a bike is purchased elsewhere, are we going to give our free lifetime adjustments and our 30-day money back guarantee? Nope. We charge what we charge, we sell what we sell, and if someone wants to choose to buy things elsewhere, so be it.

How do we win in this situation? Hold our line. Take care of each guest the same. Provide the best customer service experience that we possibly can. We can’t win them all. We can’t wear our hearts on our sleeve in this industry. As much as we want loyalty from our customers, it’s rarely the case anymore. A select few guests spend all their cycling  dollars at one shop. Just stay the course.

What do we learn from this? Shaming a customer for being stoked about a purchase made online, and bringing them down from the “cycling high” they are on… that’s a load of crap. Negative comments and forum chatter like that travel WAY faster than a positive experience. If someone from a shop (and I hope it wasn’t a shop) put me on blast like that, I’d never spend another dollar with them.

What do you think about customer loyalty? Is it ever appropriate to shame someone into a retraction or apology for spending their hard-earned money where they please?  If so, how would you tactfully handle that and keep a customer at the same time?  Please… discuss.


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