Editor's note: Serotta founder Ben Serotta sent BRAIN this open letter to the cycling community on Wednesday. Serotta was recently fired from the company he founded 41 years ago.
To the cycling community at large and my many friends and supporters;
In the wake of the last few weeks of frenzied reporting and announcements of what’s been going at Serotta I wanted to take the time to personally say thanks to the many hundreds of you who have expressed words of support for the company that bears my name, for the wonderful people who try to make things happen every day and for my family and me.
I also want everyone to know that I am fine and while this is not the time or place to debate or explain any details, I’d like to clarify the circumstances regarding my departure.
Early last Sunday evening while stopped at the side of the road looking at a paper map with Marcie, thinking about where we should head to enjoy the remaining hours of a beautiful sunny, mid-summer evening, my cell phone rang and I instinctively answered it. One of the current company owners was on the other end and he coldly started, “I am terminating you. Your email password has been changed and your building access code has been deleted. You can arrange to get your personal things on Tuesday.” And with that (no cause was given, aka terminated without cause) my life at Serotta the company, came to an abrupt end.
By the next morning, Bill Watkins, the company’s CEO, whom I’ve viewed as the company’s long missing link- someone who had the skills to lead the business end of the business, while I focused on brand and product, had been given the same treatment. It was an absolute honor working with Bill and the loss of his leadership is a loss for the company.
We broke ground on the new facility in Saratoga Springs just days before September 11, 2001. For a time, sales that had been brisk, all but stopped. But like the rest of America, rather than pulling the plug on the future, we decided to continue with the building with the confidence that we’d overcome whatever adversity lay ahead. In June 2002 we moved in to the new digs. On the side of the building there is a plaque that was placed on the day of our opening that dedicates the facility “...to the spirit of the great American craftsmen, past, present and future...”. Nothing would please me more than to see it remain as a showcase for the best that American craftsmen have to offer and thus my best wishes go to everyone who remains at Serotta for a successful recovery and prosperous future.
Serotta, and for that matter, the whole of the artisan bicycle industry is fueled by passionate people - the builders and the cyclists who interact with us personally and the products born from our efforts. Bringing joy and excitement is in its own way intoxicating which is what makes escape from this industry more or less futile to those of us who have experienced it from the inside. I don’t yet know exactly what I’ll be doing next, although one thing is certain, I will be riding my bike.
Hoping to see you on the road,