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San Diego investor acquires Ellsworth

Published January 28, 2016

SAN DIEGO (BRAIN) — Less than a year and a half after being purchased by a San Diego composites manufacturer, Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles has been acquired by a local investor.

BST Nano Carbon — a designer and carbon manufacturer in the automotive, electronics and sporting goods industries — acquired Ellsworth in September 2014 with plans to begin manufacturing the boutique mountain brand's carbon frames and components at its San Diego facility, with founder Tony Ellsworth working alongside BST Nano on product design. Aluminum Ellsworth frames would continue to be manufactured by a separate Southern California vendor.

But BST Nano "ran out of money to do all they wanted to do," Ellsworth said Thursday at the PressCamp Winter industry media event. "They woke up one morning and said, 'We bit off more than we could chew.' "

BRAIN's efforts to reach officials at BST Nano for comment were not immediately successful Thursday.

Seeking a new buyer, Ellsworth tapped into local peer-to-peer business network Entrepreneurs' Organization San Diego and connected with Jonathan Freeman, a business development and marketing executive with experience at such companies as Intel and Cushman & Wakefield. Freeman is also an avid mountain biker, said Ellsworth, adding that he will bring "operational excellence" to the 25-year-old brand.

"My expertise has always been in other spots — the creative end," Ellsworth said.

In the short term, the company is narrowing its focus on bringing full-suspension carbon and aluminum mountain bikes to market for every category, tabling components like wheels for now. But engineering for new hubs and rims was completed during the brand's tenure under BST, Ellsworth said. The company has also brought over engineering staff from BST Nano.

The brand is at PressCamp Winter exhibiting its new line of carbon bikes with frames largely produced in Taiwan and assembled in Southern California. Ellsworth said he still hopes to produce carbon frames domestically, however, and the company continues to focus on sourcing as many U.S.-produced components as possible.

Rather than bring carbon production in-house, Ellsworth will court San Diego-area aerospace firms or other manufacturers to oversee its carbon production. "It's a matter of finding a strategic partner to do this with," Ellsworth said.

 

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