Picture us, me and a colleague sitting in a certain mega-corporation’s smallish visitor section just inside the door of the main office.
Yes, the one in downtown Dajia on the main drag, a building that if someone did not point it out to you, you wouldn’t notice.
Ann, the GM, will be along soon . . . she’s just got to find a sliver of time between endless meetings to come out for a quick chat.
This is one of the biggest bicycle component companies in the world—probably the biggest since they focus on one category only, a category they dominate.
You enter the building not through the front door (there isn’t one as far as I know), but from the driveway on the southern side, ascending a long flight of stairs from a single car parking space right at its foot.
That space is for one car, and one car only . . . a big black Merk . . . and whether it’s there or not, you know if the boss is in or not.
Today the Benz is not parked in its bay. No matter, it’s Ann we’ve come to see anyway.
Ann shows up and as we discuss the business at hand a figure appears at the top of the stairs, entering through the glass doors . . . glances around the room . . . a penetrating gaze which quickly returns to fix intently on the visitors currently holding council with the GM.
The Merk is now in its space.
We politely smile, and nod our heads in the quasi-bow style of greeting that is common in Taiwan.
Stella Yu started Velo back in ’79 building this cornerstone of Taiwan’s bike component industry alongside of Giant, Merida, and a few others that dominate today.
Ann is her niece, whom Stella adopted from her brother, the founder of Wellgo pedals. Ann is now easing Velo — under her Mom’s guidance — through the turbulence of the Covid bike boom.
Keeping companies in the family is a thing around here (very rarely amongst the ladies of the family) which sometimes works well (Giant, Velo) . . . and sometimes not (Dahon vs Tern).
Velo will be at Taipei Cycle which is set to kick off in a bit over 7 weeks and I’ll be interested to have a close look at the latest vacuum formed models . . . no samples at the main office in case you’re wondering.
Will the famous Taipei Cycle Velo party which was a major TC event, prior to the Covid cancellation of everything, be held this year?
Haven’t heard, so probably not. (Or my invitation’s in the mail…).
Stella continues across the room and into the modest office she’s occupied for some time now—business as usual for one of the most successful entrepreneurs in an overwhelmingly male-dominated business culture.
Meanwhile at FIRST, some new products are coming . . . they just keep getting delayed. And despite the easing of supply chain woes the challenges remain.
AROUND THE NET
—Bike Tech & Culture—
One trend for 2022 that some are not (quite rightly) happy about:
Musguard is seeking backers for its rollable (rollupable…) fenders/mudguards on Kickstarter. Good coverage of the story here.
Is Milan’s spider web bike path plan (in pursuit of net-zero 2050) the model for city biking infrastructure in the future?
And here’s Singletracks’ balanced take on the design.
A further sign of legacy big-tech eyeing the E-bike opportunity?
Totem USA, in collaboration with Panasonic, is prepared to design, develop and produce custom eBike offerings for companies interested in UL certified eBikes. The Panasonic drive system is suitable for two-wheel and three-wheel city, touring or cargo eBike variants.
This is — technically — a tadpole e-trike, not an e-bike per se. Is it the future of personal transportation as they claim? One thing is for sure, this type of EV is set to be huge. (I’m looking forward the Podride’s long awaited release by the way . . . a super-practical, versatile ATEV that should find a solid place in the market once it’s out.)
The Triobike Mono: great for kids. But for adults . . . ? A massive review.
A key factor behind the rise of e-bikes:
$12,834 goal . . . $52,700 pledged!
This “lightest” carbon e-gravel bike is coming to a store near you soon by the looks of it.
How to manage in times of high inflation?—tips from McKinsey:
- how companies can rebuild their price-negotiation capabilities and their long-term resilience
- three imperatives for CEOs aiming to step up amid a complex, uncertain, and rapidly evolving environment
- six proven strategies to release cash from the balance sheet
- why executives view mounting fallout on the supply chain and inflation as the biggest threats to growth in their countries’ economies