Feb 28  |  We’re Not Going to NAHBS

Posted by , February 28th, 2012 at 12:00PM    

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.




  1. I am missing your vibe and enegry you bring to the show as well as your high standard of display. But as they say the show must go on with or with out. The show is stiil great busy and vibrant still seeing new ideas and connecting with great people.
    Miss you guys, enjoy your break talk soon.

    Comment by Jamie Emery — March 2, 2012 @ 6:53 pm    

  2. I was looking forward to meeting you again and wanted to let you know how much I love my SV’11 Road, but I respect your decision of not attending. I’m sure the amount of hours it takes to build your unique booths over the years is a job in itself. And it is great that you are not satisfied with what you have going, but to make it better is admirable. I will always continue to get a bike from a small builder because they make the experience for the customer personal and fun.

    Comment by Ray Alvarez — March 3, 2012 @ 11:20 am    

  3. Every artist must follow their own path and so the greatest Respect to you all. You are however missing the most beautiful sunshine and warm weather!


    The Goats

    Comment by The Goats — March 3, 2012 @ 11:33 am    

  4. That makes perfect sense to me. Sure, we will all miss the bikes and the great stand, but the time and effort that has to go into something like NAHBS, for a small company like yourselves, is a short term distraction from actually getting the job done. Having to try and better each year’s display or at least give the public what they expect is also a big expectation to have to think about. I doubt you’ll suffer any negative effect of not attending. How full is the order book……..exactly!!

    Comment by Russell — March 3, 2012 @ 12:40 pm    

  5. But having said that… all the companies at NAHBS are small…!!! Forget I said that bit…

    Comment by Russell — March 3, 2012 @ 1:03 pm    

  6. I’ve never been to NAHBS, but I’m on the 4 or 5 year wait list for my own Vanilla Bike.

    I’m glad to know your philosophy of reading the Ocean and waiting for the wave. I’d much rather wait for the right bike (or anything else in life) than to artificially make something happen and get what wasn’t quite right. I’m glad that you’re focussed on customer service and making a better bike. When I eventually do ride my own Vanilla, I won’t be thinking about whether or not you went to NAHBS, but how much it was worth waiting to get my own ride just for me.


    Comment by L.J. — March 3, 2012 @ 6:01 pm    

  7. That’s sound judgement in my view Sacha. Now put the “wave” analogy to the test and get out here so we can go surfing! Your due for a vacation, no?

    Aloha, John.

    Comment by John C — March 3, 2012 @ 10:14 pm    

  8. I understand, it all seems trite after the awesomeness of Austin last year.. ;)

    Comment by Tyler — March 6, 2012 @ 5:44 am    

  9. How do we know what next year’s color schemes will look like?

    Comment by Maggie Rose — March 10, 2012 @ 10:00 am    

  10. Nothing beats word of mouth based on customer service satisfaction…..

    ….quality craftsmanship and cool paint go a Lon way to….

    Comment by aLaN Sansome — May 1, 2013 @ 6:48 am    

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