By Bill Pomakoy President, Rhoades Car International
Each month I look forward to reading the various bicycle industry trade journals for trends, upcoming events and general knowledge about the industry. As a business owner, I then compare those trends to our business model to see what needs to be tweaked, if anything.
The Good News (at least for bicycle retailers):
Just this morning I read the June edition of Bicycle Retailer, a monthly periodical published by the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA). The title of one of the articles immediately caught my attention – “Hope Beats Eternal — Industry remains optimistic that gas prices will drive bike sales”. None of us like the high gas price trend that we are all experiencing, but it shows that people are exploring alternative means of transportation to combat these high gas prices, including bicycles. So the good news, at least for bicycle retailers, is that high gas prices usually means a spike in retail bike sales. Another recent article suggested that retail bicycle sales in the first quarter were up around 9%. On the surface, good news, right?
Ready for the bad news??? See if you can pick up on it while reading the three short sentences below taken directly from the article by Matt Wiebe on page 20:
“Road bike imports through the first quarter this year were higher than anytime in the last decade. Road imports through March were 30% higher than in the same period in 2010, and 31 percent higher than they were in 2008 when gas prices crested $4 a gallon for the first time. Imports of mountain bikes were up 10 percent over last year for the first three months”.
Some of you are wondering – what IS your point, Bill? I’m really not trying to be coy. It hit me like a lead balloon as my parents used to say! My point is that in every sentence noted above from this “good news” article from a respected industry publication, the emphasis is on IMPORTS! It’s not necessarily the writer’s fault as he is just reporting the facts. But the facts are not in USA’s favor and that needs to be reversed.
A couple of months ago I tweeted an alarming statistic from the same bicycle industry organization (NBDA) – 99.53% of all bikes sold in the United States (20” and larger) are imported from China or Taiwan.
We all need to get our hands around a problem that is absolutely crippling America. Remember when the USA was THE manufacturing leader of the world? Not anymore. Our trade deficit is at a dangerous level and our recovery depends on reversing this alarming trend and increasing domestic growth dramatically. We need to get back to manufacturing and purchasing products proudly made in the United States of America. To many of you I am preaching to the choir. Maybe the others simply don’t realize the danger of continuing to purchase products not made in our great country. But we all better get a grip on it before it’s too late. And I believe there is only a short window to reverse the trend. If a small company like Rhoades Car can survive for 20+ years with our made-in-the-USA philosophy, others can too.
Several members of our team recently made a presentation to a large Tennessee company interested in purchasing a fleet of our industrial 4-wheel bicycles for a new facility. In preparation for that presentation, we developed a brief synopsis of the benefits of purchasing from a company that manufacturers its products here in the USA. Let me share a few of those key points with you:
- All Rhoades Car major components, including proprietary steel frames, are made in Tennessee – not in China or Taiwan
- Powder coating is applied in Madison, Tennessee
- Seats are manufactured in Memphis, Tennessee
- Mag wheels are manufactured in Redding, CA
- Canopies are handmade by a small upholstery shop in Hendersonville, TN
- Shipping crate material is purchased from a small lumber mill in Portland, TN (competitive in price with the big box stores, by the way)
- Axles, steering columns, tirods and all proprietary machined parts are manufactured by various small companies – ALL located in the United States of America
I could go on and on, but by now you get the picture. It is possible to produce products that are truly made in the USA and every time we do it benefits American families. We do it at Rhoades Car and there are many more companies out there just like us that need your support. If we can all focus on buying American-made products, we can get the USA back to once again being the global leader. But it will take sacrifices to get there.
Bottom line??? It can be done – but we better get moving – and soon!
Think “American-made” before you make that next purchase.
Please – Buy American.