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Mavic’s Larry Burke leaves company to take a VP sales role at Polartec

Published April 5, 2018
Burke riding recently near Mavic's headquarters in Annecy, France.

BOSTON (BRAIN) — Larry Burke, an 18-year veteran at Mavic, has had a front-row seat during some of the most tumultuous changes in the global wheel business. 

“The speed of change within a highly competitive landscape has been fierce,” said Burke, who will soon leave the company to join Polartec LLC, as its vice president of sales. Polartec is an international textile supplier to a variety of major outdoor brands. Its headquarters are in Andover, Massachusetts.  

Burke, Mavic’s longtime commercial manager for OEM sales, began his career at the iconic company shortly after the introduction of Mavic’s Crossmax and Kysrium wheelsets in 1999.

Crossmax and Kysriums soon began to dominate aftermarket sales and high-end OE spec. The mountain and road wheelsets have enjoyed widespread popularity for years, especially among retailers, and still dominate Mavic’s wheel offerings. 

“When I joined Mavic it was pretty much Mavic, Shimano, Alex and Campy that were the key players. So, it’s been interesting to see how the wheel market has evolved,” said Burke, whose low-key style plays well with the dozens of product managers he’s worked with over the years.

Burke said his decision to leave Mavic comes at a time when the brand, owned by Amer Sports, is launching a significant new range of wheels for the 2018/2019 season with some introductions planned for Sea Otter.

“It’s been a little bumpy since 2015,” Burke admitted, when Mavic moved its operations from Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Ogden, Utah. Then, a year later, Amer bought Ogden’s ENVE Composites, a $50 million purchase. “It was a new chapter for me, my family and for this iconic company,” Burke said.  

Mavic’s relocation and Amer’s later purchase of ENVE had been a challenge. But, Burke said, the integration is going well and Mavic’s new range of wheels should impress bicycle brands, dealers and core enthusiasts.

“Mavic’s back on track, so it’s a very exciting time for the company.  I’m impressed with the brand’s new direction. We’re seeing triple-digit growth in preseason sales, so that’s a great sign. It’s also been an honor to work with such a strong and passionate leadership team who also love to ride,” he added.

Amer Sports, publicly traded with offices in Helsinki, Finland, acquired Mavic as part of its purchase of Salomon in 2005. Amer also owns Atomic skis, Arc’teryx, Wilson Sporting Goods and Suunto. 

Still, market challenges remain. Burke said suppliers like Trek, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale and others have reshaped the market substituting independent brands like Mavic for their own house-branded wheels — squeezing independents like Mavic. 

The recent closing of American Classic, a longtime independent wheel brand, attests to the competitive pressures facing the market.

“The Big Four dominate a lot of IBD landscape, but I see house-branded wheels as still evolving. They work well for some businesses, but it’s a challenge for them in the aftermarket. Mavic and ENVE, on the other hand, offer significant differences in performance compared to house-brand wheels,” Burke said. 

And wheels remain one of the best upgrades consumers can make on a bike, he added. 

After attending the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Connecticut, Burke said he was pleased to see that Mavic was well represented on many of the bikes on display. 

“There’s still a passion in the market for high-end products that offer (bicycle) brands an opportunity to differentiate their bikes for core enthusiasts and in IBD showrooms. It was refreshing to see these brands thriving,” he said. “It’s all about product innovation and that’s what Mavic still does best,” he said.


Topics associated with this article: People

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