Client Conversations: Bicycle Parts Distributor Kicks into Gear Amid Pandemic
After a brief shutdown, Santa Fe-based company meets surging demand for cycling
By Megan Ryan | January 13, 2021
Like many businesses, Bicycle Technologies International (BTI) had big plans heading into 2020.
The Santa Fe, New Mexico-based, bicycle parts distributor had forecast growth for the year, said CEO and owner Preston Martin. And then COVID-19 hit.
“Sales started to slide pretty sharply in late March,” he said. “Then we were notified by the State of New Mexico that certain businesses were treated as non-essential.”
That determination included bicycle shops and distributors, and BTI was forced to close for a week in early April, not knowing what would come next.
“During this time of uncertainty, we were looking at all options,” Martin said. The company applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program and worked with Bank of Albuquerque to get the funding. As a result, BTI was able to keep all of its employees on board during the closure.
“We were then able to lobby with the help of bike shops throughout the state and the mayor of Santa Fe stepping up for us, and within a week, we were able to turn that around, and bike shops and bicycle businesses were able to return as essential businesses,” he said.
The company resumed operations but struggled to fill customer orders because of a state health mandate that restricted it to only five employees in the warehouse at a time. Then, through safe distancing, mask-wearing and other safety measures, BTI got back to work.
“Each week through April was compounding growth,” Martin said. “We realized that something was happening. There were more people showing up at the bike shops asking to get their old bike that they had dusted off from the garage repaired so they could take it out and maybe ride with the wife and kids or hit that bike trail they've been thinking about for so long.
“It just seemed like people had time to reprioritize and try new things — that maybe life was too busy for in the past and now they had the opportunity.”
While consumers were vying for bikes and cycling accessories, BTI’s team was working hard to keep up. In the midst of a frenetic year, Martin and his team took the opportunity to pivot on a variety of fronts.
“Working remotely is new for our company,” he said. “Historically, we had always been pretty strict about people needing to work inside the building to stay connected. And through this crisis, we've been able to successfully transition to a workforce working remotely and still being connected to the company. And I think that's something we're going to stick with going forward.”
Watch the video for more of Martin’s insights as he chats with BOK Financial’s Cashin White.