BOULDER, CO (BRAIN)—CatEye Electronics is going dealer-direct in the U.S. market with the recent formation of CatEye America. Beginning Sept. 1, CatEye products will be available to independent bike dealers for direct purchase as well as through Quality Bicycle Products.
QBP is the only remaining U.S. distributor. CatEye is cutting ties with 10 other distributors. The bike computer and bike light brand had been distributed by Ochsner, Hawley, Hans Johnsen, Trek, Raleigh, SBS, KHS and Giant, among others.
The new model follows CatEye’s global policy of utilizing one distributor per territory, the company said in a release.
Thomas Prehn, president of CatEye America, said several factors led to the change in distribution but key among them was the yen-to-dollar exchange rate and growing global competition. CatEye is based in Osaka, Japan.
“It’s making it difficult for distributors to make a profit on CatEye product,” Prehn said about the strong yen. “And quite a few of our distributors were also competitors selling their own house brand.”
Trek, for example, has been selling computers and lights under its Bontrager or Trek label for years.
With the new distribution model, CatEye’s U.S. office in Boulder, Colorado, will expand from six to 12 employees. Paul Cusick, a seasoned industry veteran most recently with One Industries and Intense Cycles, was hired to lead the North American sales force as U.S. sales manager.
Prehn said CatEye America will move into a larger building in Boulder to house the additional staff over the next month. The company is looking to hire three inside sales, one tech support person and an office manager. It brought on two employees last month.
“We expect this to be a positive change for all retailers who can benefit from the exceptional direct service of CatEye America or the convenience of buying from QBP,” said Prehn. “Plus, this will allow CatEye to be closer to both retailers and consumers and give us the opportunity to be more responsive to market demands.”
Koichi Tsuyama, president of CatEye Co. LTD, Japan added, “While we value the relationships we have had with many great distributors over the years, the industry is changing and the competitive marketplace demands this evolution of our business model.”