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Former Yakima executive to lead ParkaBike

Published July 6, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BRAIN)—Former Yakima executive Chris Chadwick is stepping back into the bicycle business to run ParkaBike, a manufacturer of commercial bike racks, bike lockers, bike shelters and racks for skateboards and snowboards.

ParkaBike, owned by Greg Bauer, president and CEO of Rack'n Road, said Chadwick's goal is to position ParkaBike as a premier manufacturer and distributor of racks sold to universities, public facilities and other outlets where commuters would typically lock up a bicycle.

It's a market that appears to be growing fast in North America and Europe as cities make commuting and recreational cycling part of their urban transportation systems. And consumers are demanding more racks to lock up their bikes.

But, Bauer acknowledged, competition is stiff in this segment of the industry with companies like Graber Manufacturing's Madrax line; Sportworks, best known for its bus rack sales; Dero, a company owned by PlayCore; and Belson Outdoors vying for institutional and commercial sales.

"Chad and I have been great friends for years and he's been a great mentor," said Bauer in an interview. Bauer first met Chadwick in 1991 when he launched his car rack-only stores. Since then Rack'n Road has opened eight stores in California, Washington and Utah as well as an online website selling racks. Rack'n Road continues to be a top account at Yakima, Thule and Inno.

Chadwick had worked as a consultant for Bauer after leaving Yakima and for eight years had been general manager of a small marimba manufacturer, Marimba One, in Arcata. "It's a very cool company," he said. "The average price tag is about $14,000 and ranges up to $25,000. Marimbas are such a specialized niche, we were doing business in 30-plus countries around the world.

"But it's such a small niche and I was looking for a bigger opportunity. This is a lot closer to my roots and I am pretty excited to get back," Chadwick said.

As for ParkaBike, Chadwick said most of its products are manufactured in Sacramento with some made by a Taiwan manufacturer. Most of ParkaBike's competitors also manufacture in the U.S.

"There are some competitors out there and it's an old category, but we want to re-invent it. What we want to do is much like what we did at Yakima. We want to make products that have a much higher function in terms of protecting bikes," he said.

The bigger opportunity, he added, was convincing institutional organizations, like universities, to replace their older rack systems. "It's hard to get a university, for example, to restructure what they already have, and funding is tough to come by. It's a battle," Chadwick said.

Chadwick is moving from Arcata to Sacramento where he will manage the business. Chadwick joined Yakima in 1981 as vice president of sales and marketing. Don Banducci, Steve Cole and several private equity investors, had bought what had been a near defunct kayak company in 1979 and moved it to Arcata.

Chadwick, who joined the company two years later, helped drive annual sales from about $300,000 in the early 1980s to more than $50 million. The group later sold it to Kransco, a private equity firm, which eventually sold it for more than $90 million in 2001.


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