Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on March 5th, 2008 at 3:21 pm
This story is part of my ongoing coverage of the 2008 National Bike Summit. See the rest of my coverage here.
There’s an exciting trend in the bicycle industry: more and more companies are putting advocacy in the job description of their employees. A few companies are even making it a full-time position.
Jay Ferm, who heads up the advocacy efforts of Wisconsin-based accessory brand Planet Bike, says “it’s definitely a trend.” He points to industry heavyweights like SRAM and Pacific Cycle (they own Scwhinn, Mongoose, and GT) as just the most recent examples.
Quality Bicycle Products, a parts and accessories distributor based in Minnesota, was likely the first company to hire a full time advocate when they named “uber-advocate” Gary Sjoquist to that position. In a recent interview on BikeRadar.com, Sjoquist said, “Being able to focus fulltime on advocacy has been huge.”
When I asked Jay Ferm why this trend was happening now, he said it was likely sparked by Trek President John Burke. Burke drew attention to the industry’s lackluster support of advocacy efforts in a convincing presentation at the National Bike Summit last year (since then, he has established the One World, Two Wheels program).
But it wasn’t all Burke. “It’s really a lot of things coming together,” said Ferm during a break in the action at the National Bike Summit today, “Every year the problems that the bike solves just get worse, and more and more people are realizing it. Burke was definitely the spark, but the kindling has been there for a long time.”
Ferm says he’d like to see more organization among the industry’s advocacy-centric staffers, “I think having a some sort of professional organization would be great. Maybe we could have our annual meeting here at the Summit.”