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Herb Hart - Someone You Should Know

Published December 6, 2023

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A third-generation member of the bike industry and current independent rep in NY who is retiring at the end of the year, after more than 50 years in the bike business

You could say that Herb got his start in the bike industry back in 1913.  That was the year that Herb’s grandfather opened a bike store in Germany.  Then, in 1939, Herb’s dad opened a bike store in Brooklyn, NY.  Herb began working at his dad’s bike shop in 1971 and helped move the store to Long Island in 1977.  The store still exists today - Carl Hart Bicycles.  

From 1971 to 1980, Herb cut his teeth in the shop - learning the ins and outs of the bike business.   It was in 1980 that Herb moved over to the supplier side - with roles ranging from purchasing to sales.  During this 40+ year period since 1980, Herb has touched the lives of many people.  What follows is a small sampling…

Steve Hawley (HLC) recounts his first meeting with Herb:  

Herb approached me at Interbike one year wanting to rep for us in NYC.  I'd never met Herb and had no idea who he was.  He proceeded to tell me in his cocky NYC demeanor how great he was, how much business he could bring to HLC, how much I needed him, and why it would be worth it for me to pay him what he was asking.   I told him there was no way he could bring us that much business and earn that I didn't hire him.   The very next Interbike,  he approached me again.  For some reason, I decided to give him a chance this time, by structuring a laddered compensation plan that basically said 'Put your money where your mouth is'. He could only earn what he wanted if he hit the highest ladder goals on the comp plan.   Not only did he reach every step in the ladder, and earn every bonus in his first year, he blew them away and was asking for higher goals with more bonus dollars by October!    The only regret I ever had with Herb was that I didn't hire him sooner!

Herb Hart

Following 10 very successful years at HLC, Herb became an independent sales rep and moved to BTI.  Over the past 5 years at BTI, Herb has made quite an impression on Preston Martin:

In traveling with him, I’ve seen first-hand the lasting friendships he's forged with established retailers. I’ve witnessed his talent for making diverse connections in NYC's fast-talking shop environment. I’ve seen how he invests himself in their business, how he listens and offers ideas wherever he can. He's also outspoken inside BTI, challenging the status quo and recommending operational improvements across departments. Herb's unique style might not suit everyone, but his logic and passion are evident. With any luck, retirement won't be the last we hear from Herb!

It’s not just suppliers who have benefited from Herb’s experience and knowledge.  He has also had a tremendous impact on dealers, vendors, and fellow sales professionals.

Here’s what Keith Trepel from Roy’s Sheepshead Cycle in Brooklyn had to say about Herb:

My favorite story about Herb was from almost 30 years ago when I was just starting out in the bike industry.  Herb said to me - if I put a textbook in your hand, can you hold it?  I said yes.  Then he said if I add a second, a third, and a fourth, can you hold them?  I again said yes.  Then he said that there will come a point where they become too heavy, then what happens?  I said at that point they will drop to the ground.  Herb explained to me that the textbooks represent Credit - so be careful that you don’t carry too many books - because once you fall behind, it is very hard to keep up.  

Eric Hawkins of Park Tool had this to say about Herb:

I first met the legendary Herb Hart back around 1985 when he was a purchasing guy for North American Trade and I was in charge of distributor sales. Undoubtedly Herb is one of my favorite people ever in the bike biz…really! Always persistent and chatty in his own deadpan style. Herb’s call was always one of my favorites and we probably talked once a week for many years. Who knew we’d both still be at it 40 years later?  To this day I love connecting with Herb. He’s always pushing for something in a very direct way, yet there’s no doubt he has both his customer's and his supplier’s best interests in mind. I have this weird feeling he won’t be able to completely step away from the art of the deal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up at our door selling time shares or extended warranties just to keep himself busy and to have some fun. We’re all going to miss you Herb!

The store in 1977.

Dan Garceau was the National Sales Manager for Park Tool before retiring in 2021.  This is what he said about Herb:

Herb stays connected.  He always seems to know what's going on with his customers, his company and the industry.  He makes the effort to stay in touch.  In my case, Herb was one of the first people I met when I started at Park Tool.  30 years and many conversations later, his phone call was the final one I received on my retirement day.

One of Herb’s colleagues over the past few decades is Dennis Burg.  Dennis is an independent rep who covers Illinois, Wisconsin, and the St. Louis area.  Here’s what Dennis had to say about Herb:

The store in 1939.

Herb taught me to always respond immediately, or as soon as possible, to any dealer that reached out to me, and to go out of my way to help each dealer with whatever they needed.  Herb made me realize that these simple but important gestures would help differentiate me from many of my competitors.  I wish my friend many years of retirement happiness, spending as much time with his grandchildren as possible.

As evidenced above, Herb is someone that everyone should know.  He serves as an example of the passion and commitment it takes to be successful - always putting his best foot forward to help his customers, vendors, and suppliers.  Herb will certainly be missed.  

Best Wishes Herb!

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