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Surly Bikes dismisses rumors of impending troubles

Published June 17, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (BRAIN) — When internet rumor mongers began chattering about problems at Surly Bikes, suggesting the QBP-owned brand was ripe for a shut down or sell off, brand manager Paul Zeigle decided to get ahead of the story. He posted a blog post this week saying the brand is doing just fine, thank you very much, while candidly acknowledging a few recent challenges that might have got the blogosphere conjecturing.

“Recently we have noticed some concern being spewed out on the internet that we might be down and out,” Zeigle wrote on the Surly blog, beneath a photo of a Surly rider doing an endo into a sandpit. “I wanted to send a message that we don't go down that easily. When we stumble and fall we get back up, dust off the dirt, and sometimes laugh at ourselves for our foolishness.”

Zeigle pointed to several recent issues that the brand has struggled with.

First, last year QBP stopped using a trading partner in Taiwan and instead opened its own office there to work directly with suppliers.

“Without going into the details, we had some challenges with rebuilding our supply chain and systems, which created some delays with production and delivery of our products,” Zeigle wrote in the blog.

In an email to BRAIN, Zeigle went into some of those details.

“There was a learning curve rebuilding the connections with our suppliers and creating new systems to manage inventory directly through our Taiwan office,” Zeigle told BRAIN.

In the blog, Zeigle also alluded to some inventory problems at Surly.

“In the past year or so we made some purchasing decisions which tied up our dollars in the wrong inventory and meant we were short on the stuff we needed. Forecasting what consumers will desire in the future is always a gamble. We lost a couple of bets,” he wrote.

Zeigle told BRAIN that QBP may have bet too heavily on its OmniTerra fat bike models, a situation that was apparent mid-winter when Surly began discounting the bikes heavily.

“We knew there was going to be a surplus of fat bikes on the market due to all the companies who were introducing fat in their lines,” he told BRAIN. “We wanted to be on the front end of this market surplus rather than the tail end. We also had some excess inventory in our trail category which limited our ability to bring in additional inventory and resulted in sock outs in larger sizes.”

Zeigle also noted that Surly had to re-certify its bikes to the new ISO4210 standards to sell them globally. That meant the company had to redesign some products, so they took longer to come to market than expected.

Zeigle said the brand is “over the hump” and its stock outages will clear up in the coming months.

“Stragglers, Ogres, Disc Truckers, 700x41 Knards, chainrings, cogs, and rim strips will be available in the near future. Most of our international partners are on a similar timeline for recovery as well. Don't forget product availability can vary from market to market. So next time you stop into your favorite local dealer for a Surly fix, cut them some slack and curse us instead,” he wrote in the blog.

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