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Panelists Prepare for BLC

Published March 17, 2011

MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—The industry will grapple with a range of issues—from the business impact of doping in the peloton, the commercial potential of the Internet and social networking, to the rekindling of the youth market—at the Bicycle Leadership Conference next month.

"We open with former U.S. Representative James Oberstar talking about our fight for federal funding and we close with Andrew Messick of AEG Sports taking on the issue of doping painting our industry," said John Nedeau of SRAM, president of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association which presents the conference. "We'll address some other important immediate market challenges, but we're also confronting the farther reaching issues."

After a reception on Tuesday, April 12, the BLC opens the next day for two intensive days of panel discussions. The event will include Wednesday evening's Lightlife on the Cannery hosted by Light and Motion, to be followed by the BRAINy Awards, presented by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Thursday evening will feature the Leadership Reception and Dinner sponsored by Bikes Belong at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Wednesday panels will include:

Federal Funding: How Has it Paid Off? Led by Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal, this panel will include former U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, widely credited as the architect of major transportation bills that funded bicycling facilities and programs. Randy Neufeld of SRAM and John Burke of Trek, who have pushed for federal support, will join the discussion.

Our Customer Now and Then: A Five-Year Forecast. Moderated by Ray Keener of the BPSA, this panel will feature Jay Townley of the Townley-Gluskin Group, Charlie Cooper of the Leisure Tends Group, and Robin Thurston of Map My Ride. They will provide a consumer profile and discuss trends with that customer base.

It's All About the Kids: Getting Youth Back on Bikes. Elysa Walk, general manager of Giant Bicycles will lead this discussion that include Simon Dunne of Specialized Bicycles' new First Gear Program, Katie DeClercq of Project Bike Trip, and Lea Davison, a professional cyclist and founder of Little Bellas.

The 90 Percent We Don't Reach: What Keeps them Away? Featuring industry veteran Christopher Zigmont, this white-board discussion will focus on all the market forces that keep people off of bicycles. Joining Zigmont will be Larry Pizzi of Currie Technologies, Keith Laughlin of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Kate Powlison of Bikes Belong.

The Thursday panels will include:

Maintaining Confidence in a Bi-Polar Economy. So if Wall Street said the sky would fall on the economy, why did so many bike companies run out of product to sell? Al Budris of Sidi America will lead this discussion group that features Bob Burbank of Cannondale, Patrick Cunnane of Advanced Sports, and Stan Day of SRAM.

The Internet: A S.W.O.T. Analysis. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Clearly the Internet is still around. But some businesses are using it better than others. Mark Graff of Smart e-Tailing will lead this panel that features Mike Cachat of Jenson USA and Ed Appelbaum of Sparc Retail.

Social Networking: What Makes it Work for Business? Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Flickr and other social networking tools can turn little companies into success stories and can cripple larger brands who fail to react. Matt Haughey, one of the developers of Blogger and a leading voice on social networking, will lead this discussion that features Mike McCormack of Backbone Media, Ellen Hall, a consultant with considerable success in social networking, and Heidi Swift of Grit and Glimmer.

Parts and Accessories: Innovation, Diversity, and Profitability. Earthquakes, oil prices, recessions and countless other factors impact the component manufacturers, distributors and bike lines. So how do these leaders stay nimble in this market? Dorothy Nichols of Todson leads this group that includes David Pfeiffer of Shimano, Ray Kuiper of Serfas, and Steve Flagg of QBP.

Doping: How Should the Industry Respond? This stain on the sport of cycling impacts more than young athletes. Sponsors get hurt too. Peter Flax, editor-in-chief of Bicycling will lead this panel that includes Jeremiah Bishop, an athlete ambassador for the World Anti-Doping Agency, Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, and Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports which promotes the Amgen Tour of California.

Online registration is currently open for the 2011 Bicycle Leadership Conference. Visit for information on registration, evening activities, and lodging. The deadline for early bird rates is Thursday, March 24.

Presented by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, the Bicycle Leadership Conference will be held April 12 – 14, 2011. The event includes the BRAINy Awards, recognizing top achievements within the bicycle industry. The BLC will be held at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, located on historic Cannery Row. The region offers fantastic scenery, golf, hiking, wineries, marine adventures, and, of course, cycling. The conference concludes with a reception and dinner at the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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