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First Focus Shipment on the Water

Published August 3, 2009

CARLSBAD, CA (BRAIN)—The first three containers of Focus bikes destined for the U.S. market are on the water now, said Scott Rittschof, president of Focus Bicycles USA. Rittschof, who is launching the U.S. subsidiary for the German bike brand, will take delivery of its first shipment Aug. 15.

Rittschof has spent a busy three months preparing for that initial shipment, leasing office space in Southern California and partnering with a third-party logistics provider with a warehouse in Reno, Nevada. He’s also hired outside sales reps to cover major U.S. markets and secured an in-house team.

That team consists of Jeff Rowe, Rittschof’s former partner in San Diego’s B&L Bike Shop, Chris McLaren, who spent the past five years with Spinergy, and Chris Michels, the former manager of Adam's Avenue Bicycles in San Diego. Rowe will manage operations and supply chain logistics, Michels will handle customer service and McLaren will lead sales. However, McLaren said everyone will pitch in as needed. “We’re such a small company, we’re all watching each others’ backs,” McLaren said.

Rittschof also has brought in consultants to lead operational mapping exercises to develop business processes and select software systems to ensure the new business starts off on the right foot.

“All of that is about creating a customer experience that’s superior,” Rittschof said. “Retailers coming out of this recession period have to change the way they do business. We can save them time and money with the whole back-end side of the game.”

Focus USA is bringing in around 45 of the 120 total models the company offers. In addition to the Cayo and Izalco road bikes—including team editions such as those ridden by Team Milram—it is offering tri bikes and a ’cross model. It also will offer European-style commuter models fully outfitted with generator hubs, disc brakes, racks and fenders. Rittschof expects them to be popular, particularly with urban dealers in New York and the Pacific Northwest.

Focus also modified some models specifically for the U.S. market. For example, it spec’d an aluminum frame tri bike to target the $1,200 price point instead of the $2,000 price point. “The tri market is blowing up at the bottom. It’s exciting we got it configured for the U.S. market,” Rittschof said.

Rittschof said having a supportive parent company that controls assembly made such inline changes possible. Focus frames are built in Asia and Eastern Europe, but assembled and painted in-house at its facility in Northern Germany.
As a result, Rittschof said, it can turn around models in 120 days.

“If they were manufactured in Asia, that would be impossible,” Rittschof said. “We’re pretty proud of that fact.”

PHOTO: Scott Rittschof points out the disc brakes on the fully outfitted Maleta commuter bike. The suspension model will retail for around $1,600 and the rigid model will be around $1,350.

—Megan Tompkins

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