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Hayes Takes Over European Operations

Published January 19, 2011

MEQUON, WI (BRAIN)—Hayes Bicycle Group this week ended its long-term relationship with its independent European sales agent and will take over distribution, sales and marketing from a new company-owned office.

Hayes Bicycle Group, which includes the Hayes, Answer, Manitou, Sunringlé and Wheelsmith brands, is still narrowing down a location for its new operation to be based, and expects to be up and running in four to eight weeks, said vice president and general manager of Hayes, Darren Campbell, who is traveling in Europe this week talking to customers about the transition.

In the mean time, orders to European distributors and OEM customers will be fulfilled from Hayes’ U.S. and Asian warehouses, he said.

Despite the transition’s timing during the model year changeover, Campbell doesn’t anticipate delays in delivery of product as the fulfillment systems both in Taiwan and Wisconsin are both running smoothly.

Clayton Goldsmith, Hayes' aftermarket sales manager who’s lived in Germany for the past two years, and Sean McNally, the company’s director of business development, will be pivotal in establishing the new headquarters. McNally, who helped set up Hayes’ Asian operations, is relocating from Taiwan to work on the project, Campbell said.

In considering the new location, Campbell is looking to be near to the majority of Hayes’ European customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as considering where it makes the most sense financially to be in business and the potential future needs of Hayes’ parent company, HB Performance. The parent company manufactures brakes for a variety of other industries.

“We’re the ones that have immediate need for it, but for more long term planning we need to take their considerations in to the equation,” Campbell said.

Since 2000, Bernd Pflüger has been the master distributor for Hayes in Europe, handling sales, customer service, warehousing and the delivery of product to more than 100 customers. He said he began discussing a transition of the business with Hayes last May to lessen his financial risk, offering solutions such as selling his company to Hayes or continuing onboard for a period of time to help the company establish its own operation. Hayes was also interested in a new arrangement to position the company for future growth.

The two sides were unable to settle on an agreement, however, and Hayes sent Pflüger a termination of his contract earlier this week, around the same time Campbell sent a letter to the European customers telling them Pflüger would no longer be their contact.

Pflüger said even though it became clear late last year that progress wasn’t being made toward a transition, he had hoped to work together through the current season to cause as least interruption to customers as possible.

“My intention was find a smooth transition and it seems that was not possible,” Pflüger said, adding that there are still legal issues to be sorted in the split.

In a press release, Campbell thanked Pflüger for his service to the company over the past years.

“Moving forward, we are confident that we can provide better service and support in Europe by establishing our own operations. Communication with our headquarters and global supply chain can be had without delay, all resulting in better service for our customers,” Campbell said in the press release.

A formal announcement of the staff and structure of the new headquarters will be released in the coming weeks. Until then communication can be directed to or

—Nicole Formosa

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