We’ve gone to NAHBS every year since the beginning. I have loved the challenge of preparing for the show; thinking about what we want to communicate to the public and how to display what we make in a way that shows who we are and where we come from beyond the bikes that we build. I also enjoy pulling my whole crew together (7 in all) with one white hot goal of nailing everything in time for the show. It’s great team building. The most important thing over the years has been connecting with people who know us mainly from our website and who have some idea about who we are based on what they know through the web. What NAHBS has offered is a venue to break through that stigma and talk to people face to face as real (non web based) human beings. There is a lot that I don’t like about the web culture and the opportunity to meet people in person serves as a very good antidote for the negativity that is perpetuated in web forums and the like.
So what are we doing if we aren’t going to NAHBS?
We’re working to take a company that over the last 12 years has evolved from a newborn to an adolescent (all the while full of potential) and help shape it into a mature company that produces consistently great products and a great customer experience.
Strictly speaking for myself and not at all thinking about anyone else’s choice to go, or not, I’ve decided that I want customer interest in what we do to come from giving better customer service and building better bikes, rather than continuing to generate interest through efforts to “WOW”. The buzz, for me, may (does) feel good in the short term, but long term it’s a distraction and doesn’t have the nutrients on which to build a healthy business. So I’ll invest my energy (and the resources that would normally go to everything NAHBS related), in taking what is a good foundation and good building blocks and work towards elevating what we do. This means evaluating and refining everything from how we communicate with customers to Quality Control to forms that we use internally, to aspects of our framebuilding methods and the tooling that we use for building frames as well as designing new versions of frame components that better suit our bikesand Hiring for new positions to eliminate any gaps in work flow. As a start.
This may sound dry and boring compared to the excitement of new bike content. For me though, this stuff is a special kind of satisfying (and challenging). The changes are gradual and take patience and contemplation rather than impulsiveness. I liken it to the difference between sitting on in the ocean and waiting for a wave, versus splashing around in the water and making a lot of noise. Both fun. Both real. Just different. And the idea of sitting, reading the ocean and waiting for a wave sounds like just the right place for me.
I hope everyone down at the bike show is having a great time. I do have to say that I wish I were enjoying the company of my industry pals and my great customers who are perennial visitors to the big show. Maybe we’ll see you next year.