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Part of the bike shop family, Elizabeth Giaquinto retires after 40 years in the industry

Published August 14, 2020

A version of this article ran in the August issue of BRAIN.

ASBURY PARK, N.J. (BRAIN) — Glance at industry job classifieds, and you’ll find plenty of independent sales representative positions posted. It’s a high-turnover, high-stress position, and it’s noteworthy when someone can last more than a decade.

Elizabeth Giaquinto lasted 40 years, the last 32 with Bianchi serving the New York and New Jersey area. 

“You cannot get tired, fed up, frustrated with traffic,” said Giaquinto, 74, who announced her retirement in June. “You must be determined, looking forward to doing the job at your next stop. Also, I built relationships with dealers, helping them where I could.”

That trustworthiness began early on when meeting the owner of Robert’s Bicycles in Queens, New York.

He “wanted to be sure I was on the level. Bob and his brother owned shops, and I had no idea they even knew each other. They each asked questions about a special discount on two different days. My response was quite firm but polite, ‘No.’ I learned that day: Never try to pull one over on anyone. Of course, my mentors, my bosses, and my dealers taught me all I needed to learn. Do the job right and go home.”

She also inspired many while developing those long-lasting industry relationships, said Jim Stevenson, Bianchi vice president of sales and marketing.

“I only worked with Elizabeth for the last 10 years, and I can tell you that she was a joy to work with during that time,” Stevenson said. “There is no question about her loyalty to Bianchi, but I think what was even more impressive was the respect and trust that her dealers had for her loyalty and work ethic. They knew they could trust her 100% to do what she said she would do, and get these done when needed.”

Stevenson said because of her longevity, Giaquinto watched a generation of shop owners evolve into the industry.

“One thing I loved in particular was that she had store owners that she knew when they were kids working in the shop when they were young, that grew up to take over the business or open their own stores,” he said.

For Charles Kuhn of Kopp’s Cycle in Princeton, New Jersey, Giaquinto represents a professionalism that’s been lost.

“Elizabeth is part of what I call my bike shop family, a part of the cycling industry that doesn’t really exist anymore,” Kopp said. “Not only understanding my business needs, but a compassionate, caring friend. Hard to put into words, but a salesperson that you actually look forward to seeing when they’re scheduled to come in.”

Giaquinto began her career in 1980 with Raleigh Bicycles. After seven years, Raleigh relocated to Washington state. Not wanting to move from the New York/New Jersey area, she shifted to Raleigh customer service.

In 1988 she began working for Bianchi.

“Bianchi is Italian: passion, celeste,” she said. “I am 96% Italian and proud of it. Born in the USA, that’s a good thing as well. All the people who enjoy Bianchi would tell me so.”

She noted several industry professionals who played a key part in her career, including Stevenson, Rod Jewett, Patty Craves, Daniel Hagerman, Heather Mason, Diana Zachary, Mitch Nakano, Juan Ortiz, and Bill Laddish. 

“They are the inside support that try never to say no to anything. They work with you!”

Mason, Bianchi’s Eastern Regional manager who worked with Giaquinto the past two years, said she was drawn to her compassion and work ethic.

“I hear from the dealers that she was always one to count on, and they loved the chocolate or cookies she would bring,” said Mason, who also writes a regular column for BRAIN. 

“She meant so much to the accounts, often seeing generations grow within the shop.” 

In retirement, Giaquinto intends to read all of the books she’s “been buying for quite some time,” relax, and ride her bike.

“My husband and mother-in-law were suggesting I should do something after I retire. Well, I asked them to give me some space. If I find myself bored, I will probably find myself at the local food bank where a good friend of mine works.”

She leaves the industry optimistic about its future in light of the recent boom.

“My house is on the largest lake in Monmouth County,” she said.

“It is scenic, quiet and just beautiful. Many people are riding with the whole family, with their friends, ladies and gents, alone and together. 

“So it will grow,” she concluded. 

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