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Retired Huffy CEO Bill Smith dies

Published May 9, 2019
UPDATED.

DAYTON, Ohio (BRAIN) — Bill Smith, the recently retired president and CEO of Huffy Corp., has died, the company has confirmed.

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Smith announced last September that he would retire in December 2018. He remained a director of the company's board. Company employees said he died Wednesday.

"It is with tremendous sadness that United Wheels/Huffy shares the news of the passing yesterday of its former leader, Bill Smith," the company said in a statement Thursday.

"Bill served as a true steward of the Huffy brand throughout his 25-year tenure, including his outstanding leadership for more than 8 years as President and CEO. Following his retirement in late 2018 from his leadership roles, Bill continued as a board member and advisor. Bill was respected for his passionate support of the cycling industry, his natural ability to connect with others, and his devotion to his family. 

"The board and company leaders share their sincere sympathy with Bill’s family and all those remembering him fondly at this time," the statement said.

Smith became familiar to the specialty retail world in recent years, after appearing at 2017's IBD Summit in Arizona, where he urged the industry's various retail channels to work together to grow the market. He also recruited IBDs to serve as Huffy Service Centers.

Huffy also launched an IBD bike line, Batch, last year and Huffy's parent company United Wheels purchased Niner Bikes out of bankruptcy in early 2018.

In announcing his retirement, Smith told BRAIN that he hoped his replacement, Claude Jordan, would continue Huffy's engagement with the industry.

"It was deliberate, trying to become a full-fledged member of the industry on the one hand and on the other hand help the industry think more clearly about itself as a single entity without the unnecessary divide between distribution channels," Smith said. "It didn't help either one of us. Look, I have to be honest: Of the many things I've been able to participate in with Huffy over the past few years, being able to be a part of helping to build that bridge may be one of the most satisfying things I've done in my 25 years.

"If I could say anything to (Bicycle Retailer) readers it would be to thank many of them for the many emails of support I've received over the last two years. Many of them I don't think realize how much influence and impact those emails had in driving some of the decisions to figure out a way for Huffy to become closer to the IBD community," Smith added.

Smith testified before a Section 301 Committee considering tariffs on Chinese bikes last year. He told the committee the tariffs came too late to save U.S. bike manufacturing and would "devastate" U.S. bike retailers. The tariffs he spoke against are currently set to take effect Friday.

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