TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Hundreds of product managers, distributors and suppliers from around the world are flooding into Taichung on Monday in preparation for Taichung Bike Week, or TBW for short.
TBW, which kicks off Tuesday and runs through Friday, has now become a major event on the international calendar. More than 300 vendors have reserved halls, suites and rooms at three popular Taichung hotels. A separate group, RideOn, will meet with its clients at the new Millennial Hotel.
TBW has also become an event for some companies, like Specialized and others, to host dinners and award ceremonies for their key vendors.
“It’s become one of the major milestones in the trade show calendar,” said Lance Bohlen, FSA’s general manager in the U.S. “There’s now four key events for most product managers—Eurobike, Interbike, TBW and Taipei Cycle,” he added.
Echoing that is Rick Taylor, KindShock’s U.S. sales and service manager. “TBW’s timing, especially now that it’s a couple of weeks earlier, positions this show for us to work with our OEM customers on their midyear 2015 requirements,” Taylor said.
Donn Kellogg at Clement tires described the timing as ideal. “I think much of the industry tips their hats, so to speak, to organizers for being creative, providing better timing for OE presentations and focused meetings. The added value is that it’s located in the prime business hub of the specialty bicycle industry—Taichung.”
Kevict Yen, whose design agency ID Art represents a number of key Taiwanese vendors, said, “Taichung Bike Week has really become the B2B event for the industry. The format's ability to concentrate industry vendors and suppliers together in a short time and behind closed doors is phenomenal.”
Yen, like others, also pointed out that TBW’s overall timing fits nicely within the industry’s current business cycle.
Nonetheless, TBW’s early November dates are more attractive to European product managers than to some from the U.S. market, several company executives told BRAIN. “It’s certainly important, particularly for European brands, but for U.S. brands it’s still a little bit late,” said Jason Rico, who represents brands like Hutchinson and Reynolds through Rico Sports Group.
“It’s usually the third show I see my customers at during the season, which starts in August. For me and a majority of my North American customers it’s more of an opportunity to firm up the coming season rather than show them products,” Rico said.
Many companies began their 2015 discussions before Eurobike; some saw new prototypes in late August and September, and are now coming to Taichung to see finished products and dial in final pricing. “And some vendors will pull out plans and talk about ideas and prototypes for 2016 as well,” said FSA’s Bohlen.
What started informally more than 10 years ago with OEM meetings scheduled by SRAM and WTB for their customers now attracts hundreds of visitors to this city of 2.6 million near the coast in west-central Taiwan. It’s also become an economic boon for the city.
It had long been an informal, low-cost meeting place for vendors to work out last-minute details with product managers, but over the past four or five years it has grown dramatically in size and importance.
Pro-Lite’s Steve Fenton, and several volunteers, noticed the growth and in 2007 began to formalize TBW with support from Taichung’s city government. It now includes a major industry party, supported by the city, held the second night of the event.
And due to its growing popularity, what had once been a key OE meeting between manufacturers and their customers now attracts a small but growing number of brands like Abus, Airborne and others. TBW apparently offers them a chance to pitch their wares once again to suppliers and distributors.