Been working on this one a while. Gosh, the BLC took place almost a month ago at this point. But for those of you who have dabbled in video editing and posting online, it’s a few orders of magnitude more time and effort than just writing a blog post. Add in some still unresolved (and very frustrating) technical issues that prevented me from uploading this video in any format from any of three different computers at work (both Mac and Windows) and you have a video that’s a little past its prime in the timeliness category.
BUT, the content more than makes up for it. I’d heard going into the this morning session at the annual spring gathering of the bike industry’s leaders that there was going to be an announcement made by one of the advocacy groups. When I saw Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong, Jenn Dice of IMBA and then the CEO’s of the two largest US bike companies, Mike Sinyard of Specialized and John Burke of Trek, walk up onto the stage, I had a feeling it would be something big. I reached for my little Sony point-and-click digital camera that also shoots video and captured the proceedings. Who knew it would be so compelling?
If you didn’t read the coverage or were not fortunate enough to be present, here’s the background. The BLC this year hosted about 200 “heads of state” of most of the major bike manufacturers and suppliers in the United States. Pretty much a who’s who of the industry including the presidents, CEO’s, general managers, owners and/or marketing directors of companies like the two listed already, plus Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, Raleigh, Dorel, Performance, Scott USA, Ritchey, Giant, Haro, Crank Brothers, SIDI… you get the idea. They all gather to network, improve the business climate, discuss the state of the industry and work on areas to improve conditions for cyclists and ultimately grow sales of bikes. It’s really an amazing event and, as is the case with many conferences, the time during the meals and breaks in between sessions are some of the most beneficial and gratifying. I make it a point to find a table during the meals with no one I know to force myself to make new acquaintances and contacts. With essentially everyone in the room being a client of ours in some way, you can understand the value in attending for us.
So, apparently, in the weeks leading up the BLC, Jenn Dice from IMBA had been discussing with John Burke about some serious new challenges that they were facing on access issues. John asked what IMBA needed to mount an effective defense and he in turn committed to supporting it. He also told her to reach out to “Mike over at Specialized.” With that base of initial support from the two big guns in the industry, they decided to formally announce the new Public Lands Initiative at the BLC and to take advantage of all the assembled people with enough authority to write big checks on behalf of their corporations to try to reach the funding goals for the program.
Following the introductions and speeches by Dice, Burke and Sinyard, was an amazing sign of industry solidarity, belief in the role of advocacy in growing the industry and more than a little peer pressure. While many companies committed right there on the spot, many more joined in throughout the rest of the day and the conference (after a quick call to their CFO back home, perhaps?), and the $300,000 first year goal was surpassed and approached the two-year $600,000 goal finishing up at $587,000. Pretty amazing.
The quality of the video is not great as a result of the device and the indoor lighting and sound, but the spirit is inspiring. I caught a number of companies making their on-the-spot pledges of support and tried to note them all during the video. I added the complete list of 38 companies (including us, of course!) at the end. And remember, it’s not too late to email Jenn and make a pledge if your company hasn’t already. Retailers: note in the video that your peers at Wheel & Sprocket and Performance join in with support in the video so don’t feel like this is only a supplier issue!
Here’s a link to IMBA’s official news release about the initiative.