At its core, the goal of the DT Swiss facility in Grand Junction, Colorado is simple: Do the exact same thing over and over again — and do it exceedingly well. This mantra of precision repetition carries across all the DT Swiss operations, be them in Colorado, Poland, Germany, France, Taiwan or at company world headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.
“We produce spokes and wheels and hubs, and we do it here and in Europe and in Asia, and we use all our own equipment and our own buildings, and we do it the same every time,” explained Chip Barbieri, the CEO and general manager of the Grand Junction branch, which occupies a non-descript 20,000-square foot building in an industrial area on the west side of this small city of 60,000. “That way no matter where a DT Swiss product is produced, it will be of the same quality and standards.”
Except in rare instances, those qualities and standards are exceptionally high. Indeed, the DT Swiss name is a sought after stamp of approval. Wheels may bear the ENVE or Roval or Bontrager or Syncros name, but it’s often the fact that hub internals or other parts are of DT Swiss origin that’s proudly marched out in marketing material. It’s the cycling world’s version of “Intel Inside.”
“We buy all our raw materials from our parent company,” continued Barbieri, who came to DT Swiss by way of Cannondale and has been running the 30-person Grand Junction facility since 2005. “We’re all fed the same stuff, the spoke machines are the same, the QC is the same, the maintenance is the same. So what you see here is just like what you’d see in Poland or Asia, except those facilities are a lot bigger.”
This begs the question why in this age of overseas manufacturing are things actually being made in the USA? And why here, on Colorado’s Western Slope? We’d love to think it had to do with the area’s world class riding. Grand Junction and nearby Fruita boast some of the state’s (if not the country’s) best mountain biking trails, while the smooth roads that ring Colorado National Monument are a truly singular cycling experience.
But the actual answer traces back before Fruita was a bucket list locale for mountain bikers. Instead, it was 16 years ago at a time when DT Swiss was getting pressure from key clients such as Cannondale and Trek, who at the time were still assembling the majority of their bikes in the U.S. and wanted a supplier that wasn’t a half dozen times zones away.
“Basically we got in business here to make spokes for their assembly plants,” recalled Barbieri. “Initially we had a distributor who happened to be in Grand Junction. But then we moved in here permanent because at the time it was less expensive than the east of west coast, there was a less expensive but skilled labor force, and freight was less expensive.”
Some of those metrics have changed over time, and this year DT Swiss added a second U.S. facility in Temecula, California in order to be closer to key clients. “The Grand Junction area is phenomenal for cycling, but it’s not the easiest place to get to,” conceded Barbieri. “As a global company with multiple facilities around the world, being in Southern California puts us within the largest market region in North America, as well as making travel for our key customers faster and easier.”
That new office officially opened on March 13 with a media/VIP open house that included longtime DT Swiss rider Shaun Palmer.
Back in Grand Junction, the operation has a decidedly hands on feel, a fact discovered during Mtbr/RoadBikeReview’s exclusive tour of the facility. Up front are a suite of sales and marketing offices, which service all of the America’s from Canada in the north to Argentina and Chile down south. This is also the primary warranty center for all those markets.