The first shoe dropped not quite four years ago, when Trek president John Burke announced to a rather nonplused retailer audience that his company was henceforth in the business of selling its bikes direct to their customers. And that the retailers were going to like it, whether they liked it or not (As it happened, a BRAIN web poll found that a bit less than half of Trek dealers supported it at the time, but perhaps that’s changed.)
Those bikes, Burke said, would be fully supported by the audience members and the rest of Trek’s 1,500-ish local retailers. Not only that, but the entire new business model would be perking along like tickety-boo by the end of September, a little more than 30 days away.
It wasn’t, of course. But you have to admire the sheer audacity of the move. Of all the brands in bikedom, Trek presumably had the greatest investment in its retailer base, the most reason to stick with the status quo, and the least reason to rock that particular boat. But rock it they did, and depending on who you talk to, they rocked not just the boat but the entire market it …read more