PBMA Board of Directors Highlights
Many folks I meet through the PBMA ask and wonder how I got here. I used to conduct a teaching session at the USA Cycling Bill Woodul Race Mechanics Clinic "career development", I showed a timeline resume and talked with those folks about the various things found within in... so at that time, everyone I encountered knew how I got to be there in front of them. For this I figured some folks might like a deeper look into what made me who I am.
I cut my teeth in the early 90's as a junior racer and a shop rat... I started by basically begging for a job in Tucson so I could afford to race my bicycle, even back then entry fees for a high school kid were really steep. Luckily my mom saw to it that cycling was a thing that kept me out of trouble and made sure I was able to get to races and still make the (passing) grades at school.
After about 10 years of working in the shop, racing in the US and abroad I was tired. Tired of being a mediocre racer and tired being maxed out of earning in the bicycle shop. I wasn't poorly paid but I didn't feel I was financially rewarded or gaining anything by staying there.
I quit with nothing lined up and no prospects. I put together a resume and started applying all over the place. I had a few interviews, some things were interesting, others not. I interviewed at Blockbuster Video (keep in mind at this time this was a Forbes Fortune 500 business owned by Viacom Entertainment with 9,000 "brick and mortar" retail locations). This interview was intense and with more than one person, something even the business classes in college didn't train me for. I didn't get hired on the spot and took at job at Dillards who I had also interviewed with and made me a job offer... The day I started at Dillards, Blockbuster called, I quit Dillards that day - what a horrible place to work (critical after 3 days of working in a mall, I know).
Some may be laughing a bit, other hopefully are wondering why... it's real simple. Blockbuster offered me a starting hourly position that paid me almost double what I earned as a manager of a pretty busy and high volume bicycle shop in little old Tucson Arizona, two weeks paid vacation, paid on-the-job training, a company matching 401k and a fairly flexible schedule, they were open from 10a to Midnight daily after all!.
I did real well there. I received some really good schedule management training which went right along with forecasting business, I learned how to read and write a budget, I learned people management and loss prevention. Over my 5-year history there I learned more than I did in any school, got paid really really well, managed 100's of people, fired probably just as many. I even made some lifelong friends.
For those still laughing:
When I left I was running up to 10 stores which had an average of 10 employees each and grossing a million dollars per location, this "district" as they called it was one of the most successful in the entire region of Arizona (and the western states)and if you do the math was simply cranking out rentals and video equipment sales.
Eventually my passion for cycling caught back up. I left Blockbuster with a pretty good package of compensation at a good time, a couple years later the store closing began, the writing was on the wall and I and others saw it coming. There were shops and other things that filled the financial void until I really got back into the bicycle world.
After a short stint in Phoenix working at a pretty high end shop which appreciated quality and qualified employees (oh yeah, during those 5-years outside the industry I kept my hands dirty with Mavic SSC supporting all the races around the USA, it was a perfect use of my paid vacation time!), I got a job at Cannondale, working on their photoshoot and driving a demo truck all around the USA supporting shops, events and athletes.
I worked with the Liquigas team and got to meet all those kids who became and are now superstars, I went on to work at USA Cycling in their Athletics Department, managing teams for PanAm and World Cup track events, going to Worlds and supporting our nation's elite athletes.
I left there to work for Specialized Bicycles in their Bicycle R&D Department which allowed me to again work with their elite athletes and teams, see some of the latest innovations and put my thinking skills to the test. My boss there (Mike McAndrews) challenged me all the time to do better and be better, the guy that runs the place did the same, I worked on his bikes and provided him feedback on the products the company was producing, talking about complex to simple things.
Cycling is my passion and my life, today I work for my own companies (yes, more than one) to make ends meet and support the mission of the PBMA. I do race and team support, I share my opinion with owners and managers. I reflect on all I've done and the 30 or so countries I've been lucky enough to visit.
I would not be here today without having left to get the things I wanted as a person, to become a manager, to understand how business and retail work. Some may laugh or snicker but the things I learned outside of our industry are the exact things that we need to start doing inside of our industry if we are going to survive the future. Blockbuster didn't adapt... they tried to, but it was 3 years too late.
I encourage you, if you made it this far, to join the PBMA and let us help you with the future!
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