You are here

Frostbike 2016: QBP president touts ‘ecosystem’ concept to help dealers and brands thrive

Published February 28, 2016
Also, Quality expands SaddleDrive dealer event to two sessions this summer in move to Reno.

MINNEAPOLIS and BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (BRAIN) — QBP changed things up a bit for this year’s Frostbike, the distributor’s annual open house at its flagship facility in Bloomington, Minnesota.

For one, the company invited fewer dealers, with 780 individuals attending from about 380 accounts, down 20 percent from last year. This was done intentionally to preserve resources for an expanded SaddleDrive summertime dealer event, which will be held at QBP’s Reno, Nevada, distribution center for the first time. SaddleDrive had previously been held at QBP’s Ogden, Utah, facility, which is being relocated to Denver this spring. And this year, QBP will hold two sessions of SaddleDrive, each lasting two days.

“We wanted to take dollars from this event to have more dealers at SaddleDrive,” said Rich Tauer, who became president of QBP effective Oct. 1 after founder Steve Flagg stepped down and transitioned into a role working on company strategy and mentoring others at QBP — including Tauer, a 25-year veteran of the company.

More notably, this was the first time QBP’s new leader presided over the company’s main open house and expo.

“I’m the shiny new president of QBP. I’ve been in the job all of five months,” Tauer quipped in introducing himself during Friday night’s opening reception at the Marriott City Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Tauer also encouraged retailers to participate in the new Dealer’s Choice buying program, which QBP introduced at last year’s Interbike and promoted at Biketoberfest, the company’s East Coast dealer event held in October at the Q-East distribution center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“I know it's another program, and you guys have seen dozens of them,” he told retailers Friday. “This one is fundamentally different. It's a program that was really built to create that powerful strategy for everybody involved — building that partnership between suppliers, QBP and dealers.”

The program, which requires no preseason order or large commitment to product, launched just before Interbike with about 28 suppliers that QBP vetted for “dealer-centric” practices, eventually expanding to a total of 45 brands, including QBP’s house labels.

Dealer-centric means four things, Tauer said:

  • The supplier has great product.
  • It enforces a MAP policy.
  • It has channel integrity and knows where its products are being sold.
  • It has a sustainable margin for stocking dealers.

“By sustainable margin I don’t mean a sustainable paper margin. What I mean is that at the end of the year, when you look at how things went for that category or that brand, you realized the price that you paid and the price that you sold it for, those things match up — they were what you expected them to be,” Tauer said.

Dealer’s Choice is an early step in building what Tauer called the Q Ecosystem.

“That's a powerful business strategy for both dealers and suppliers to thrive and survive today and into the future. It's a partnership between suppliers, QBP and dealers. And partnership, I know, is an overused term, but in this case it's exactly what we believe we're building. Partnership is a core value of QBP, one we see as critical especially in today's retail environment. When we say partnership, everyone wins,” he said at Friday’s reception.

In a separate interview with BRAIN at Frostbike on Saturday, Tauer said Dealer’s Choice and the Q Ecosystem have their roots in internal discussions dating back to last spring, before he was named president.

“With all the changes happening (in distribution and at retail), we realized we have to change who we are as a company. We have to recognize that the way we have been doing things, which has worked exceptionally well, needs to evolve faster than it was evolving. So now we have this idea which is an ecosystem,” he said.

“And of course when you think about other companies in the bike industry, Trek and Specialized have their own ecosystems. And we started talking about it like the difference between an Apple and an Android operating system. Apple has a closed ecosystem. You can’t make software for Apple without all the rules from Apple that go along with it. You, the consumer, can buy into the Apple ecosystem, and Trek and Specialized have done some things that are similar where (retailers are) buying into what they’re doing. What we started talking about was an open ecosystem where there’s choice. … As a dealer you get to choose what you carry at your store the way you want to brand your store,” Tauer added.

Dealer’s Choice ran through Dec. 1 and will be reactivated July 1 with the model-year changeover. Tauer said the program’s initial run saw “moderate success.”

“It wasn’t as successful as we wanted it to be, and there were two reasons. One, it was too complex. I’ll say we have a history of making things too complex for dealers. And then secondly, the concept was new, and we were still figuring out how to talk to people and tell them what we were doing. So we felt good about the numbers, but we didn’t feel great about the numbers,” he said.

“What we felt great about was that the dealers who did buy in, they got it and were excited about it and asking more questions. And after we shut it down in December we had dealers coming to us and saying they get it now and wanted to sign up,” Tauer added.

 

Join the Conversation