01 Jan 2014

Report on wheel life


At the start of another year I’m gratified to be helping Canadians with wheel selection and wheelbuilding. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve met some great people. In particular:

Great customers

I’m constantly amazed at how interesting my customers are. There are all kinds ranging from folks who want to avoid certain pitfalls to riders who know their requirements in detail. In any case we come together to talk wheels so there’s a natural chemistry. Thanks for giving me a shot, your repeat patronage and your referrals. Your confidence is appreciated muchas gracias.

Community involvement

I see this business as part of different communities and make a point of contributing where I can.

First I’m part of the Calgary bicycle community so I sponsor local advocacy groups. It’s about supporting organizations that rely on volunteer effort and contribute to the community well beyond recreation. Getting bicycle infrastructure built improves our environmental footprint and promotes healthy choices. Bicycles as a means of transportation can be critical to lower income folks but this demographic has the softest voice. Change rarely happens without champions.

Second I’m part of the wheelbuilding and bicycle mechanics community. I spend time online where I’m happy to answer questions and share experiences. At a significant time investment I developed three online wheelbuilding programs. These free tools, most notably my spoke tension utility, are in regular use by amateurs and professionals worldwide. I see repeat users from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. I’m thrilled and hope the world has better wheels for it.

Last I provided a microloan to a bicycle business in Kenya. It’s questionable to fund another business given my profit margins but small dollars for me are big dollars elsewhere. My microloan helped a mechanic purchase inventory that he keeps in his hut for servicing a community where bicycles make a difference. When the loan is repaid I will plow the funds into a similar business. I’d like to augment the portfolio with new money each year so the impact grows.

Business development

A person has lots of ideas about operating a business and those ideas are challenged during growth. I learned a lot this year and I’m making changes to stay focused on the plan. My mission: to be respected as Canada’s finest wheelbuilding service, technically and interpersonally.

I’ve made extensive revisions to my pricing, some up and some down. My wheelbuilding charge has gone up to reflect the primacy and substance of my service. At a bike shop you can expect one hour of work goes into a typical wheelbuild. I spend at least double, which is a fact of life since my standards far exceed industry norms. Today you will find my wheelbuilding rates on par with most shops but I promise the best value. Wheels are my specialty and my skill is honed by repetition.

I’ve reduced prices on several products to keep competitive with online deals. In select cases North American supply chain economics are punitive compared to foreign distribution — retail pricing in Europe can be cheaper than wholesale here. It’s out of my control so I don’t get upset. A few customers have shipped me (or ordered direct to me) their online goodies, which I turn into great wheels. If you take advantage of these whacky economics, I don’t blame you.

Happy new year folks.