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Ellsworth pins rebirth hopes on new Rogue Sixty

Published June 23, 2016
Jonathon Freeman (left) with Tony Ellsworth.

PARK CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — Jonathon Freeman is pinning his hopes on a rebirth of Ellsworth mountain bikes on a new Rogue Sixty — a 27.5 carbon fiber full-suspension enduro machine.

But Freeman, a boyish looking 47 years old, admits that the company needs to rebuild its dealer base, effectively communicate its omnichannel strategy, develop a strong independent rep force, and refine its program with Velofix to deliver Ellsworth bikes to customers without a local Ellsworth dealer to rely on.

The Rogue Sixty with 160 millimeters of travel front and rear, offered with four build kits (Shimano SLX 1x, XT 1x , XTR 1x and SRAM XO1 1x) also sports internal routing that's Di2 ready. That model would retail for approximately $6,500.

The line includes the Enlightenment 29 and 27.5; the Buddha, a 26-inch fattie; the carbon Epiphany 29, 27.5+, 27.5 and the Epiphany Alloy 29, 27.5+ and 27.5; the Moment 27.5 and the 27.5 Dare with 200 millimeters of travel front and rear.

Freeman, who bought the floundering company from BST Nano in late 2015, admits that it's taken a "lot of hard work" to retool and begin to rebuild its U.S. and international distribution.

The Rogue is what Freeman is calling a groundbreaking design with frames made in Taiwan and assembled at the company's Poway, California, facility.

Freeman is now ready to take it to retail has required him to re-establish relationships with suppliers, revamp the supply chain and convince dealers that Ellsworth can deliver products when they need them. But getting to the point where Freeman is now ready to take it to retail has required him to re-establish relationships with suppliers, revamp the supply chain and convince dealers that Ellsworth can deliver products when they need them.

Freeman, who earned an MBA at UCLA, acknowledges that Ellsworth's ups and downs over the last few years has taken a toll on the company's dealer base of about 250. He wants the company to be a partner with its dealers—a minimal order of three, dating, and margins ranging from 32 to 37 percent. And dealers can buy either complete models or framesets that sport a five-year warranty and a no-fault crash replacement program.

To get Ellsworth back in the game, consumers can order a bike online, but staff will locate a nearby dealer who they hope would handle the fit and final tune for the customer. As Tony Ellsworth put it, "we'll be paying them a boatload of money" for the service. Ellsworth is the company's vice president of product development.

But the company is also working with Velofix, the Vancouver mobile bicycle service franchise, to serve as sort of a concierge that would deliver Ellsworth bikes directly to consumers.

Freeman said Velofix has about 50 mobile locations and could hit 100 by year's end.

Freeman is also working with Bicycle Bluebook on a trade-in program for older Ellsworth models. Consumers can take the money based on the bike's bluebook value and either buy a new Ellsworth or another brand, Freeman said.

"We need to get a level of awareness back for the brand," said Freeman, who's self-financing the company's rebirth. "It's a legacy brand and with a lot of hard work and attention to detail we can bring it back to life," he added.

Freeman, who began mountain biking back in the early 1990s, has had an extensive career in business development and had been the executive managing director for Cushman & Wakefield, a prominent San Diego commercial real estate broker.

"I've been on a personal quest to invest in a business that I'm really passionate about, that has some legs and that can really take advantage of what I bring to the table in terms of business acumen, operational background, marketing and really growing businesses from something small to something great," Freeman told BRAIN earlier in the year.

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