First things first; Kevin and I did ride on Tuesday. Nobody else showed up; pilot was in Shanghai, JR we noticed rode later (we were looking forward to hearing his stories about his recent France trip). A bit foggy but another nice day to ride.
Now on to TREKWorld. Flew here Tuesday right after our ride, getting to our hotel not much earlier than midnight. Hey, no biggie right, just have the event starting the next morning at 5am West Coast time. Who needs sleep? I was worried a bit about Kevin (Becky stayed home this trip, nursing her torn ACL and helping to hold down the shop while the two of us were away), but he managed to stay awake through the first day of really excellent speakers. It probably helped that he slept on the plane on the way here; he was actually asleep before the wheels even left the ground. How does he do that?
So what is TREKWorld all about? Here’s the big reveal- It’s not about product. At all. This is all about how to run our businesses better and have happier customers, because happier customers keep coming back, buying more stuff, and that’s what keeps our doors open. Trek has taken a leadership position in helping bicycle retailers both survive and thrive, and it’s greatly appreciated. Brick & Mortar retail is not easy these days (just ask us- we’re now in negotiations with our landlord, and looking to add staff in an environment where that’s a very tough thing to do, with apartment rents now at $2k for a non-very-nice place). There are no secrets; I’ve posted the agenda here.
It’s not totally without product information though; we hear about trends and there’s little question that the biggest current trend, and one that is changing the game, is disc brake road bikes. It doesn’t matter that there are darned good reasons they won’t find their way onto my next “light & fast” road bike. What matters is that they’re here, they’re the future, and it’s going to be tough selling someone a road bike without disc brakes. Old dogs, new tricks. Also an emphasis on the e-bike’s future, which is looking very bright. The interesting thing not expected is the influx of the enthusiast, serious mountain biker embracing the e-bike. Real athletic people, not someone who needs help keeping up. But the product info is just one tiny part of the overall agenda. And lastly, Trek is working to move away from the emphasis on black. That’s a great thing to hear, since it seems like every bike on our floor is black with some minor color trim.
Definitely some re-connecting going on for me here; people I’ve known for over 25 years still running the company. Many of these people were praying for Kevin 25 years ago when he was going through his first kidney surgery at 6 months old. Trek is a far more successful company now than it was then. A lot of shared history between my family and Trek.
So what do we think of the Koolaid? Well, it’s Wisconsin, so the reality is that it’s Bacon & Beer. But yes, we’re with the program.
Tonight we fly back; tomorrow we take some of the load off Becky, Steve & Karen, who have been holding things together while we’re away. –MikeJ