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CSG's Management Retooling

Published October 30, 2009

BY NICOLE FORMOSA

BETHEL, CT (BRAIN)—As president of Cycling Sports Group North America, Jeff McGuane is steering what seems to be a constantly evolving ship.

Since he took the position heading up the IBD division of Dorel Industries’ bike business seven months ago, the group has gone through a reorganization, overhauled its management structure and initiated plans to renovate and expand the new headquarters in Bethel, Connecticut.

McGuane sat down with Bicycle Retailer & Industry News at Interbike to talk about CSG as it emerges from the post-merger integration, 18 months after being purchased by Dorel Industries.

“It’s an exciting time as we look to restructure and build the team,” McGuane said sitting at a coffee shop inside the Venetian. “The focus on talent is really important for us and the work environment is alive, electrified so to speak, with a lot of new people, new ideas and really well balanced with some longtime experienced leaders in the cycling industry.”

Structurally, each of the CSG brands—Cannondale, GT and Mongoose/Schwinn—will be assigned its own team, each with a dedicated general manager, product managers and marketing personnel.

For GT, director of product development Mark Peterman was promoted to general manager, Patrick Kaye was named pavement brand manager, and Todd Seplavy was hired as head of mountain bike.

Hillary Benjamin, former head of marketing for Equinox Fitness, has been named general manager of Mongoose/Schwinn. McGuane is in the final hiring stages for Cannondale’s general manager and expects to appoint the position by year’s end.

He and his executive team are currently recruiting for product management and marketing positions for GT and the Schwinn/Mongoose teams, and he expects to have the balance of the jobs filled by the end of the year.

“It’s an entirely new structure and it’s a big investment,” McGuane said.

Also, CSG has broken the design group out from under R&D and brought on Aaron Bethlenfalvy from the GT office in Lake Forest as vice president of design to lead the team.

Chris Peck will stay on as vice president of research and development for the group, and noted industry engineer and advanced composites expert Peter Denk recently joined CSG as director of technology.

Denk, who previously designed bikes for Scott, worked with Cannondale over the past year to create the Flash carbon hardtail, and is now part of the permanent team.

CSG has also expanded the Advanced Products Group, which is now headed by longtime GT engineer Forrest Yelverton. That team includes five engineers and industrial designers who work a minimum of three years out on concepts and technologies that will eventually work into commercialization timelines.

“They’re not tasked with the every day details of trying to get something into production. They pitch to us what their ideas are and what they think are compelling ideas to explore. We give them a relatively long leash and they report to us quarterly, the executive team, with updates on the scope of their projects,” McGuane said.

A recent project that came out of the Advanced Product Group was Simon, a prototype electronic suspension system introduced by Cannondale at Interbike.

Dorel is also investing in infrastructure to support the new teams. After announcing in April that satellite offices in Lake Forest, California, and Longmont, Colorado, as well as the IBD jobs in Madison, Wisconsin, would be consolidated to Bethel, it initiated plans to expand that facility.

The design phase is underway and construction will soon begin with each brand slated to have its own office space.

Changes are also imminent at Cannondale’s Bedford, Pennsylvania, plant as that space transitions from a manufacturing facility—by the 2011 model year, all bikes will be sourced from Asia—to a test lab and customer service center.

“The inside sales and customer service team is going to expand significantly over the next three months. We’ve already begun recruiting and hiring new people into the center. We’ve also begun investing in building out that part of the facility, updating it, upgrading it, creating a new work environment in Bedford,” McGuane said.

The lab will also be expanded to accommodate testing on GT, Schwinn and Mongoose product as well as Cannondale.

Bedford previously employed about 300 people. McGuane said that while all those employees may not have new roles after the transition, the No. 1 priority is staffing new positions with people who already work there.

McGuane admits that integrating the CSG brands following the acquisition has not been easy, but he credits Dorel Industries with arming his group with the resources it needs for the future.

“We’re real fortunate to have a very supportive and well-funded owner. They’re long-term oriented relative to their investments. They want to win. They want to win in the IBD, and they want to do it the right way. So they’re very supportive in terms of the investments they’re making,” he said.

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