TULSA, Okla. (BRAIN) — When friends Matt Gragg and Curtis Kline decided to buy a business earlier this year, they looked at options in several industries, including a brand that makes packs for wildland firefighters and a company that manufactures fire trucks.
With backgrounds in manufacturing, Gragg and Kline were looking specifically for a product that had a good following but hadn't been marketed very well. When they saw fixie brand Wabi Cycles, which Richard Snook founded in Los Angeles in 2009, listed for sale, they called immediately, even though neither had a strong cycling background.
"We had a meeting two days later with Richard," said Kline, who previously worked for a small company that made oilrig equipment. "One of the first things he asked was why we wanted to buy a bike company. But I think our backgrounds in manufacturing a niche product for small company made bikes interesting to us. Even though we came from an unrelated industry, we were able to provide a great product, great service and had a good relationship with customers—and I think that appealed to Richard."
The deal was closed in May and Kline and Gragg traveled to LA to learn the products, process and get to know Snook. They moved the company to Tulsa over the summer, and opened a brick and mortar retail shop in early October.
"We looked at all the possibilities. We have plenty of affordable warehouse space here in Tulsa and could have gone that route, but we also have a passionate cycling community here and we wanted to be supportive," Kline said. "So the retail shop gives us the opportunity to provide a space for the cycling community to hang out and use. It can be a meeting space for clubs, and we also offer a yoga class for cyclists."
The 3,800 square foot space located in a historic warehouse in the city's Brady Arts District also houses Wabi Cycles assembly operation. Wabi Cycles' four models are designed by Snook and manufactured in Taiwan. Kline and Gragg assemble each frame to order in Tulsa and ship direct to the consumer. For now, the bikes are sold on the company's website and at its retail store.
The Wabi Cycles' line includes entry-level Reynold's 725 steel fixies, either tig welded or brazed and lugged, as well as a Columbus Spirit steel model and a geared road bike, both with carbon forks. They range in price from $750 to $2,000, with several options for customization, including an array of color, tire, saddle and handlebar choices.
Bikes are shipped directly to the customer with detailed instructions and access to a video tutorial on how to install the handlebar, seatpost/saddle, front wheel and pedals.
Wabi Cycles also stocks some parts and accessories for the urban rider, including shoes, helmets, lights and locks. It offers repairs on only Wabi models for now, and Kline said they refer other service work to nearby shops.
Kline and Gragg also recently launched a new website and have ramped up the brand's social media efforts.
"We haven't done much marketing at all, but our average sales have been slightly better than Richard's sales were for the first five months of 2016," Kline said. "I think we've been a bit more active online and that's probably the reason."
Kline said a new singlespeed cyclocross model is in development and should be available early in 2017.
For more information, visit wabicycles.com.