Sep 15, 2014
Mountain Racing Products
Tim Fry started Mountain Racing Products as it is today with his wife, Christy, in 2000.
"We're both recovering lawyers," says Tim. "We got frustrated with the profession."
So the Ohio-based couple looked for a business to buy and found Bicycle Parts Pacific, a manufacturer and distributor in Grand Junction. It fit the bill -- they wanted proprietary products and export potential -- so they closed the deal and moved West.
An avid cyclist and skier, Tim jumped at the chance to relocate to the Rockies.
In the shadow of the 2001 recession they acquired several other manufacturers of bicycle parts and accessories, expanding into suspensions, forks, seat posts and other products. They took the name of one of the acquisitions, the formerly Portland-based Mountain Racing Products, a manufacturer of chain guides for downhill mountain-bike racing.
"90 percent of the did not finishes were due to dropping the chain," says Tim. "Mountain Racing Products solved that problem overnight."
But bringing all of the lines under one roof made adaptation a necessity. "I knew from the start we were going to have to change," says Tim. "We became a house of brands and we consolidated them back here."
The strategy since 2005 has largely to take specialized technology to more mainstream markets. Mountain Racing Products' chain guides, for instance, were developed for racing, but now used by mountain bikers of all abilities.
"We took technology from the downhill market to the more mainstream mountain-biking market," says Tim. The chain guide is a great example. "We still protect the chain and keep it on the bike, but we've expanded it to the mainstream market."
The market mix has also changed. Once focused on aftermarket parts, now 40 percent of the company's business is OEM work with big brands like Giant and Cannondale.
Most bicycle-parts manufacturers took a major hit with the onset of the recession in 2008, but MRP actually saw growth as the market shrank. "We were on the other end of the perfect storm," says Tim. "We hit it just right."
Challenges: "Our biggest challenge is we're in an isolated area," says Tim. "We just don't have the manufacturing base here. If something goes wrong, I can't go across the street -- I have to hop on a plane."
Not that MRP needs any outside help, from the government or otherwise. "If we have a problem or challenge, we look internally," he says. "We just try to stay focused on what we do every day."
Opportunities: Grand Junction's remote location is not just a challenge -- it's also an opportunity. "The opportunity is it forces us to be more integrated in house," says Tim.
He says the OEM business remains a growth opportunity. "There are so many high-end bikes. Our products go on bikes that are $2,500 and up. The consumer gets used to it."
Needs: A consistent source of skilled labor. "It ebbs and flows," says Tim. "It's tied to the oil and gas market."