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Ben Serotta leaves company; owners to seek contract work

Published August 6, 2013

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (BRAIN) — Founder Ben Serotta has left the company he founded 41 years ago, as has CEO Bill Watkins. The current owners of the Serotta bicycle factory told Serotta dealers in a letter this weekend that they will be seeking contract framebuilding orders from other brands in order to support the future of the Serotta brand.

BRAIN obtained the letter, which was written by Brian Case, the chairman of Serotta and a director of Divine Cycling Group, which was created earlier this year with the merger of Serotta, Blue Competition Cycles and Mad Fiber.

Ben Serotta and Watkins told BRAIN last week that they were preparing to shut down the factory because of lack of funding from the new owners. Serotta also told BRAIN that he was negotiating to "extricate" the Serotta brand from DCG. DCG manager David Devine told the local Albany newspaper that the factory would reopen following a restructuring. 

In the letter, Case said the new role for the upstate New York factory "will involve putting in place a management team that is aligned with our expanded production strategy. As a result, Serotta CEO Bill Watkins and founder and president Ben Serotta have left the company. We wish them well."

Case told BRAIN in an email that he would be available late Tuesday to discuss the letter. Ben Serotta did not return a phone call from BRAIN this morning.

A spokesman for DCG said wheel production continues as normal with Mad Fiber.

In the dealer letter, Case said DCG viewed the Serotta factory and its staff as a key asset.

"In a nutshell, recent events have reminded us that we have two distinct assets in Saratoga Springs. One, of course, is Serotta and its 41-year history. The second, our priority asset, is the entire team in Saratoga. They have been one of the things that have made Serotta's bikes so great for so long. It's also a team that has both the skills and capacity needed to offer unparalleled craftsmanship to other brands. 
 
We aim to keep our team together and have no plan to close the Saratoga Springs factory. In fact, contract manufacturing may represent a significant profit opportunity for the company, which in turn supports the future of the Serotta brand. "

 

Case said Patrick O'Farrell, Serotta's director of operations, will oversee all production in Saratoga Springs, including the fulfillment of current Serotta orders.

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