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Saris wants to be humble as it rebuilds with new owners

Published April 22, 2023

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Saris, which is under new ownership since it was purchased from a Wisconsin state receivership program last year, was showing off several new rack products and its stationary trainers at the Sea Otter Classic this week. 

Stefan Guelpen, the brand’s new B2B sales director, said 2023 will be a year of “consolidation” as the new owners and the industry get to know one another.

“We need to make sure the general public knows what we are doing .. we are cleaning up some issues internally, reestablishing confidence in us as a supplier,” he told BRAIN at the Monterey event on Friday.

“And we are hiring — I want to add more regional account managers. But overall we want to be be humble about this year” he said. For next year, he hinted, he has more ambitious plans.

Saris was acquired by C&A Global, a New Jersey-based company that manufactures and sells consumer products and electronics. The new owners have maintained its manufacturing employees at its Madison facility, where it continues to make most of its its bike racks, trainers, and municipal bike infrastructure products, including the new Modular Hitch System rack that it launched at the Sea Otter.

Guelpen said C&A Global made an analogous purchase a few years ago when it bought Zink Holdings, the manufacturer of photo printers and related products.

“C&A also bought that company out of bankruptcy and they’ve maintained the factory in North Carolina that has about 120 workers,” he said. 

Guelpen has a background in consumer electronics and at Sea Otter he said he was enjoying the enthusiasm and passion of the bike industry, and the deep interest that buyers took in products and the company behind the products. “They want to know who we are, where we came from, what our story is,” he said.

He said Saris has a goal of establishing its racks in the higher-end enthusiast part of that market. 

“Saris has been a mid-tier product for the weekend warrior, not the ‘pro-sumer’ market, like Kuat, but we want to be there,” he said. 

He said about 80% of Saris’ sales are in the auto rack business, with the remainder in trainers and infrastructure. While the trainer market collapsed last year, he said it is showing signs of life again in recent months.

“(Saris trainer) development stopped last year, but it’s going to resume. We hope in a couple years that the company can stand on two legs again.”

He said re-establishing Saris is a long-term project. “We are trying to keep the DNA of the brand .. it’s going to be a journey. It took a year just in re-organization and it’s going to take five years to build back,” he said. 

Topics associated with this article: Sea Otter Classic

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