MONTGOMERYVILLE, Pa. - Advances in advocacy, the growing number of successful bike share programs and the state of the economy were among the topics discussed by the more than 140 participants of last week's Bicycle Leadership Conference (BLC). The 2009 BLC "Leading the Industry into the Future...," presented by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), was held April 15-17, at the Embassy Suites in Seaside, Calif.
"The cycling industry is poised to enter what we consider to be the 'perfect storm' for not only the growth of cycling but a paradigm shift in the functionality of a bike," said John Nedeau, president of the BPSA and vice president of global sales for SRAM. "During this year's conference, the industry was clearly optimistic about the solution cycling will be to so many of the challenges our society faces. Whether a bike is providing an alternative mode of transportation in a congested city or helping an individual maintain an active lifestyle, cycling is no longer just about skinny guys in Spandex."
As part of the three-day conference, attendees participated in group bike rides, a golf scramble, networking events and multiple panel discussions. Noteworthy topics of discussion included advocacy, bike share programs and the economy.
A top-panel of national and local advocacy leaders demystified the process of and the potential for pending pieces of federal legislation (a potential new investment of nine billion dollars). The panel discussion addressed what the industry can to do to make sure future bills are bicycling-friendly and how to make sure that states spend the allocated money on bicycling. Visit here for a complete list of panelists.
"The comradery and the hard work of the national and local advocacy organizations are creating exciting opportunities for the entire industry," said Alan Snel, Director of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers. "While our co-opt is actively engaged in many of the specific advocacy efforts the panel discussed, the panel and discussion gave me a renewed sense of urgency and commitment to continue our local and regional advocacy efforts."
Drawing from a highly experienced panel, this discussion explored the potential of North American bike-sharing systems in cities, and on college and business campuses. Topics like funding, organization, marketing, cultural challenges and affect on local retailers were explored. Visit here for a complete list of panelists.
"While many bike share programs are still proving if they can sustain their own costs, I came away from the panel excited about the role bikes will play in improving urban transportation," said Jay Herring, Gore Bike Wear U.S. leader. "Whether in Lyon, on a college campus or in major cities throughout the country, these programs have the potential to introduce cycling to a group of people who would not be riding otherwise."
Executives representing the manufacturer, distributor and retailer roles used real time sales stats to address hard hitting questions about topics including, the general slump in 2008 fourth quarter sales, available credit rollercoaster, industry post recession, affects of the new Obama administration and predictions for the state of the industry, among others.
Stan Day, CEO, SRAM Corporation
Steve Flagg, CEO, Quality Bicycle Products
Jim Thompson, CEO, Performance Bicycles
"During the Economic Roundtable, Stan, Steve and Jim provided a very open and cautiously optimistic dialogue that resonated among fellow industry leaders," said Steve Meineke, president and COO of Raleigh Bicycles. "I think one of the connect-the-dots moments for attendees came when Stan commented that the January-to-June, 25 percent decline in OEM sales is a clear indicator of potential supplier inventory reduction going into the 2010 summer launch. Even if it is confirming what we already know, information like this is one of the reasons we continue to support the BPSA. Our IBD customers need to know this information in planning their business needs."
BPSA Industry Stats
With greater member participation than ever, the BPSA Annual Industry Stats meeting delivered top-line retail/point of sale stats and brought back parts and accessory statistics. The meeting also determined that the BPSA will expand the classification of bikes to provide members with a more relevant history of sales.
"As evidenced by the conference discussions and panels, there is a growing level of trust inside the BPSA and improving level of cooperation. Information was openly shared, discussed and is now guiding how we improve benefits for BPSA members," said Nedeau.
Partnership with Sea Otter
In the first year of its three year agreement, the BLC was hosted in conjunction with a portion of the Sea Otter Classic. BLC attendee's benefited from the new partnership through the Tour to Sea Otter (industry ride from BLC to Sea Otter Classic), access to the Interbike Media Tent at Sea Otter/BLC VIP Area and what event planners call the 'infectious excitement' surrounding the world's largest bike festival.
"As we expected, the partnership between the BLC and Sea Otter proved to be a tremendous success," said Frank Yohannan, president and CEO of the Sea Otter Classic. "Even at the executive level, our industry is chock-full of committed riders and cycling fans who loved the opportunity to mix the business of BLC with the entertainment and passion of Sea Otter."
BRAINy Awards and Dinner
On the Thursday evening of the conference, the BLC hosted the BRAINy awards dinner presentation. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News honored Bob Burns of Trek Bicycles with the Distinguished Service Award; King Liu of Giant Bicycle with the International Person of the Year and Eugene Kiefel of Wheat Ridge Cyclery with the Lifetime Achievement Award. For a complete list of the BRAINy Award recipients please visit Bicycle Retailer and Industry News at https://www.bicycleretailer.com/news/newsDetail/2610.html.
The 2010 BLC is tentatively scheduled for April 14 and 15, 2010, in Monterey, Calif. The 2010 Sea Otter Classic will be held April 15-18 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, Calif.
About the Bicycle Leadership Conference
In addition to hosting the annual Bicycle Leadership Conference, the Bicycle Products Suppliers Association (BPSA) is an association of suppliers of bicycles, parts, accessories and service providers that serve specialty bicycle retailers. The association provides a networking and educational forum for members, spearheads industry initiatives in advocacy and safety and is the leading resource for bicycle statistical data. For more information, visit www.bpsa.org.
The 2009 Bicycle Leadership Conference was sponsored at the Gold Level by Bikes Belong. Sponsors at the Silver Level included SRAM, Interbike, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Sea Otter Classic and Future Publishing. CLIF BAR, Bicycling Magazine, GOARE Ride-On Cable Systems and SOAR Communications supported the conference with a Bronze Level sponsorship.
About Sea Otter Classic, Inc.
The 20th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 15-18, 2010, at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, Calif. The four-day "Celebration of Sport" is considered the world's largest cycling festival, hosting nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 50,000 fans. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800.218.8411.