BETHEL, CT (BRAIN)—The last three months has been quite the whirlwind for Cannondale Sports Group president and chief executive officer Jeff Frehner, as both Cannondale and Frehner get to know each other better.
“They’ve [Cannondale] probably learned that I’m not real bright,” said Frehner, in jest of course.
Frehner can laugh now, but things took on a more serious tone after news of Dorel’s acquisition of Cannondale hit the airwaves. Not everyone had rave reviews of the deal including Specialized founder and president Mike Sinyard, who criticized Pacific Cycle for being a “mass-market conglomerate and eroding the specialty retail channel.”
Frehner never thought the deal would elicit such harsh criticisms, especially considering that Dorel, in part, set up the Cannondale Sports Group—committed to the IBD channel with Cannondale, GT and Sugoi—as a way to squelch such notions.
“Kind of tiring, isn't it?” Frehner said. “That isn’t my style and it will not be part of how the Cannondale Sports Group conducts business. Hopefully we've continued to take the high road. I know the dealers appreciate that tact. We will continue to stress the fact that competition is good, but not at the expense of growing the bicycle industry as a whole. We all need to compete, but collaborate [as well].”
Retailers have responded more favorably than Cannondale’s competition at the top.
“I could not have hoped for a better response than what we are getting from the dealer base and the industry in general,” Frehner said. “Without exception the dealers we have been meeting and talking with understand our commitment to the IBD and are excited about supporting that commitment.”
Frehner said he’s been spending about 90 percent of his time traveling since the acquisition. “Most of my time has been spent with the Cannondale executive team, dealers and suppliers combined,” Frehner said.
When Frehner took over the Cannondale Sports Group, he said that everything would be analyzed from top to bottom—the process is well underway.
“The first couple of months has simply been about dealer communication and focus and understanding the Cannondale organization and employees,” Frehner said.