Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meet the New Boss, Quite Similar to the Old Boss

Since I was the contact person for most of Trinity's out of town customers, some of you might not be familiar with the other half of Trinity, Joseph Spragins. Joey and I worked together in the service department of a bicycle shop before partnering up at Trinity. Joey is a highly accomplished racer--Cat 1 on the road and Cat 2 on the velodrome. A couple of years ago he raced for Colavita on a steel Chris Kelly frame and saw the light.

While Joey and I have a similar approach to bicycles, we each brought very different customer bases to the business. This was good in many ways, but it also meant that each of us couldn't focus all of our efforts on what we knew best.

Since I'll be the sole captain (and at least for now, first-mate, boatswain, etc.) at Longleaf I'll be able to focus more on practical bicycles suitable for transportation and bicycles for recreation that sensibly steer clear of design features best suited for racing.

If you're in the North Texas area, Joey will continue running the shop in the same location. He'll be a source for everything you previously found at Trinity. He just won't be courting out of town business, he doesn't much care for messing with the internet or writing webpages so our agreement is that I inherit the out of town customer base. Of course, if you're not in the North Texas area and would prefer to deal with Joey, you know where to find him and he'll be happy to help you.

At Trinity one thing we didn't expect was the local business to dominate so much of our time. We kinda figured that being this oddball bicycle garage with zero production bikes selling only steel frames and gear for commuters, tourers, and randonneurs we wouldn't have a ton of local customers. We were wrong. The ratio of our business swung from 1:7 in-town vs. out of town to 3:1 in the first year.

This was great in many ways, but it meant that projects like the website were costantly pushed to the back of the line as we finished wheelbuilding and service orders. Many projects that I had in mind never got off the ground because we grew a little faster than we thought and we also weren't exactly the most organized managers of our own business. We've learned those lessons the hard way in the last fifteen months.

With those lessons under my belt, and with complete control of Longleaf, I'm going to get those backburner projects cookin'.

The website will feature parts and products that I believe to be the best of their kind, or high functioning and a great value. When we opened Trinity we could afford to stock very little, and as we accumulated a decent inventory of items I never had the time to augment the website.

We will immediately be taking custom and semi-custom frame orders. The first custom frame will be finished in the next couple of weeks. I should have a couple more examples by the end of the year. This will warrant its own post later. I'm meeting with my framebuilder today and I'll be able to hammer out pricing. The first ten frames will be discounted so that I can get the bikes out there and build a portfolio for potential customer.

I am working on a plans for production frames that will sell in the $600-$800 range. These are probably some time away, but they'll happen.

Lastly, I'd like to make a sub $1000 complete bike. I'd love for it to come in at around $800. This probably isn't what most of us die-hards are looking for, but the should be a very well designed all around bike available for people who want to get around by bike, and I'm not happy with what's out there right now. I want to keep the price at a level that non diehards can swallow. A whole lot more people would pick up and stick with transportation cycling if the right bikes are out there and within their reach. Unfortunately, this project will take the longest to complete, because it will require the biggest investment.

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