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« The menace of old guys on bicycles | Main | The tale of two number ones »
Monday
Aug162010

Success and Fate

Looking back on the United States part of my framebuilding career, although some of my success I created, fate also played a large role.

For example in 1980 I went for a job interview with Trek, in Wisconsin; I didn’t get the position, but later that same year I landed a job with Masi in Southern California.

When I eventually started my own business I was definitely in the right place. California, and in particular the southern part of that state, has a climate where one can ride a bike year round. Had I opened my own framebuilding shop in Wisconsin, business would have definitely been seasonal.

Also when Masi laid me off at the end of 1981 it was due to an overstock of unsold frames coinciding with a recession. It was not because of anything I had done, and it was not necessarily Masi’s doing either.

They were only too pleased to rent me space in their shop to build my own frames, as they also had a drop in income. This got me started back in my own business again, and I was able to resume building custom frames; something I had not done since leaving England in 1979.

Then when John Howard, ex-Olympic rider and winner of the first Ironman Triathlon approached me in 1983 to build frames under his own name, it gave me a contract to build five frames a week.

This brought in a steady income to supplement what I was already making from my custom frames. It enabled me to open my own framebuilding facility, along with my own paint shop.

The John Howard frame was a short lived project that only lasted a year; again due to circumstances largely outside of my control, and of which I have outlined in a previous article.

This left me scrambling to find a replacement to fill the void in my production capabilities. Once again fate had played a hand and out of that the Fuso was conceived.

The John Howard frame was always underpriced and profit margins were small. It was competing head on with the Masi and Italian import frames, but was not an established brand at that time, so we had to produce and sell it for less.

With lessons learned from the John Howard frame, the Fuso came into being in 1984. The extreme luxuries like chrome plating were dispensed with, and the Fuso was a well designed, well built product with nice paint and graphics.

No longer having to split profits with a middle man; I now had a frame that was a reasonable price and would compete favorably with the import frames.

The Fuso had a good run for almost ten years, when once again fate took a hand in the form of the Mountain Bike; people stopped buying road bikes. However, this time I did not rise to the challenge and re-invent myself or my business.

Maybe I had been knocked down one too many times; I was thoroughly burned out with the bike business, and no longer wanted to be a part of it.

If someone had offered me a job in the bike business, I would have considered it. But to run my own business again, subject to all the whims of the market and the consumer. No, thank you very much

Looking back I have no regrets, but can't help but wonder what if I had landed that job with Trek back in 1980. Would they have treated me well enough that I stayed?

I might be retired by now with a large pension from some executive position. On the other hand I doubt if it would have been as satisfying as what I did do.

And is money the only consideration when a person looks back on what they have achieved? At some point we die and money has little bearing on anything

 

                        

Reader Comments (9)

Very well written article. I'm sure that things happen every day, by our choice or not, that affect the rest of our lives.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave G

I for one am glad you did not go to Trek as my 1981 Masi GC is a wonderful bike!

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSprocketboy

Dave I love your work! and your words. Thanks so much! You make me think.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercold Gaspacho

I would argue that it's not fate at all, but rather your own strength in dealing with setbacks. You _made_ it happen, and good on you for that.

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel S

Dave,

I suspect that you would not have fared well in the corporate culture as you are far too creative. It seems to be that only young companies nourish that trait but as they grow and mature, they tend to focus far more on their bottom line than their mission. I say hooray for the creative folk, they are the spice of humanity.

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Yes Dave, if you were with trek your life may be stable and plain.
There would be no adventures and great topic to share with us.

I agree too on "At some point we die and money has little bearing on anything.".
I think money should be only a tool for conveniences in life, to live with dignity,
no need to sign on unemployment. Extra from that it is only a figure in the bank
account.

Remember watching the movie Citizen Kane, at last the tycoon died in loneliness,
everything that he own couldn't take it with him.

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBkk

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBkk

Amen to the Bible verse! I think if you were in Trek you would have never come up with this great blog and just enjoyed your pension. Well, that was a wild guess. Well, maybe you'll be blogging too but think it will not be rich with adventures like these.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPedals Cycling

Dave I found a guy on Bikeforums.net who just got a John Howard. It's the hideous purple and blue, I gave him your site adress. He's restoring the bike.

November 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

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