In the last year-and-a-half, Planet X USA, has gone from boxes of bike frames stacked inside a skateboard half-pipe, to a 10,000 square foot warehouse with offices, a retail showroom, and $1 million in revenue. That’s a promising trajectory, and it shows that the future looks bright for the Portland-based arm of Planet X, a major bike brand founded in England over twenty years ago that has set up its North American headquarters on NE Hancock Street. Planet X is known for their online, consumer-direct business model, high-end triathlon bikes, private-labeled wheelsets and other components. The company also owns On-One and Titus Cycles, two brands with deep roots in the mountain bike world.
I visited their new space last week to see how they’re settling in.
When I first met Michael Golinski, the 41-year-old general manager of Planet X USA, he was standing in a half-pipe, sifting through boxes in a corner of a warehouse he was sharing with Portland Design Works. He was just getting settled back into the bike industry. Golinski co-founded Spot Bikes in 1997 and then sold the company in 2006. He’s originally from Canada and moved to Portland in January 2011 (he came here to be with his wife Courtney, whom he met at the Bishop’s barbershop during a visit to Portland in 2010).
When Planet X owner Dave Loughran bought Titus in November of 2010, he relocated the company from Tempe, Arizona to Medford, Oregon. When Golinski emailed Loughran to congratulate him on the Titus deal, Loughran floated an offer. “He said it’s too bad I’m not in the bike industry anymore,” Golinksy recalls, “I said I’m not, but no one ever really leaves, and no one’s asked me to come back.” One thing led to another and a month later Golinksy was not just in charge of Titus, he had taken on Planet X and On-One as well.
The decision to set up operations in Portland was an easy one. Our proximity to a major port made logistical sense (most of Planet X’s bikes come from China and Taiwan), Oregon’s lack of a sales tax made the company’s online prices even lower, and Portland-based Sapa was already making the Titus frames (that is no longer the case, as Sapa has ended bike frame manufacturing, but Golinski says they’ve still got about six months of inventory left).
Since moving into their current space in August 2011, Planet X USA purchased and expanded into the space next to them and doubled in size. Now, in addition to offices and a shipping/inventory warehouse, they’ve got a retail showroom and a fitting studio they hope to launch by this spring. The retail space is a bike nerd’s dream. There’s floor-to-ceiling bikes, bike frames, and parts. Between On-One, Planet X, and Titus, the company now has dozens of models in their line-up and the showroom is like a real-life catalog of them all. They’re also the exclusive U.S. distributor of Guerciotti, a legendary Italian road bike brand.
Recently hired marketing and sales guy Patrick Croasdaile showed me around. He’s clearly stoked for the new On-One “Lurcher” carbon fiber 29-inch mountain bike. It comes well-equipped as a complete bike with SRAM X9 for just $1,900. Their Planet X-branded deep-dish carbon wheelsets, he says, are especially hot right now. At just $529 a set (with shipping) it’s easy to see why. The “Lembeek” from Guerciotti could definitely strike a chord with Portland’s cyclocross fans this season.
Speaking of racing, Croasdaile will be testing out the new Titus Rockstar Carbon 29er this weekend at the Echo Red 2 Red cross-country mountain bike race.
Stay tuned. Planet X USA will be opening their fit studio and retail showroom to the public in the next few months and I have feeling there are other big things to come from these guys.
Check out Planet-X-USA.com.