MADISON, WI (BRAIN)—For 2009, Trek is investing resources on bringing to market best in class products and helping retailers boost their profitability. That was the message Trek president John Burke delivered last night, kicking off the company’s annual dealer gathering.
From humble beginnings in a red barn with a handful of employees in 1976, Trek has become the largest bicycle brand in the world, he said, “but the best thing is not where the brand is, but what we’re doing for the future—where we’re headed. We’re going to keep pushing the bar.”
And for 2009 that means a host of new products, including the surprise announcement of a new line of Gary Fisher road bikes. To start it will consist of three models at key price points.
Trek’s head of product development Joe Vadeboncoeur said Gary Fisher, a rebel roadie, had approached him many times about launching a road line. “Why now? It’s not just because Gary Fisher asked. We think it makes sense,” Vadeboncoeur said.
A limited product offering to start, Trek will invest to “take the brand where we need to take it to make it solid,” Vadeboncoeur said.
Trek also is bringing to market softgoods under the Bontrager brand, something the company decided to do shortly after its licensing deal ended with Nike a year ago. Trek assembled a softgoods team nine months ago to help develop and launch Bontrager-branded shoes, apparel and gloves, Vadeboncoeur said.
And to help retailers boost profitability Trek is launching a new Web-based tool called Ascend Analytics, which provides stats so store managers can measure, set and track goals and performance while forecasting for the future. Trek began developing it over two years ago based on retailer feedback and said retailers who have beta tested it during the past six months have seen an improvement in business.
While most retailers arrived yesterday, this year Trek hosted a separate “Backstage” event for the first time on Monday and Tuesday targeting shop employees. About 450 sales staff and mechanics came out and partook in product-focused seminars and demoed the latest road and mountain bikes, said Derek Deubel, marketing director for Trek. Store managers and owners will have the opportunity to attend more business-oriented seminars over the next couple of days.
Finally, to keep the tradition of past events alive, Burke showed movie clips of his late father, Dick Burke, who founded the company 32 years ago and “was the heart and soul of the business.”
Dick Burke, who passed away earlier this year at 73, traditionally offered his closing thoughts at Trek World, which has grown considerably over the past two decades. And this year was no exception.
“My dad absolutely loved retailers…and Trek World was a highlight for him. Tonight we allow him to close again,” Burke said.