Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Founder and Frame Builder Aaron Barcheck and company make custom-fit, drool-worthy bicycles that keep rolling away with awards.
The company handcrafts titanium and steel bicycle frames most recently winning the North American Handmade Bicycle Show's "Best Mountain Bike" award in 2019 for its MT-1 frame. Mosaic previously won awards for its gravel bikes and is currently expanding its lines to meet the evolving needs of cyclists.
Unlike some custom frame manufacturers Mosaic Cycles sells through a dealer network rather than direct-to-consumer. "We don't do a ton of direct sales," says Barcheck.
"We don't just work with anybody, we have a very kind of specific type of shop and staff that we definitely like to work with and they're fully versed in all of our product lines," he continues. "So they understand all the models that we sell and what they're made to do and all the options that would come along with them. They also have the resources, like a finish work catalog and paint samples for the finish work to show exactly what the bike will look like."
To help customers and dealers, Barcheck says that most of its dealers have at least Mosaic bike in-shop, if not more. "Some shops carry a small demo fleet so you can go in and test out a gravel bike versus the road test bike to help you make your decision and that's and they're really good at kind of walking customers through our process and through their process to make sure that they're getting the right piece of equipment to do the type of riding that they want to be doing and the finish work that they really want," he explains.
Despite hand-building the frames to customers' specifications, Mosaic Cycles is able to complete orders within about four to six weeks, says Barcheck, "depending on what the model is and what the finish work is."
Part of that quick turnaround is likely because the company purchased Spectrum Paint & Powder Works, a Colorado Springs-based paint shop and their equipment. Mosaic now does all of its painting, powder coats, and finishing in-house. The finishing operation does work for some other small frame builders as well as some direct-to-consumer project.
Mosaic continues to expand its offerings. In April 2019, the company unveiled new versions of its All Road and Adventure Gravel gravel bikes, allowing for different tire sizes and wheel bases depending on the rider's needs.
While some major bike dealers, like Performance, are going out of business, Barcheck doesn't think that is a worrisome indicator for Mosaic. "We work in certain type of market. We're not selling bikes under $3,000. So you wouldn't see a mosaic in a Performance-style store."
"With the partners that we see we kind of do see this healthy trend within the industry," he continues. "Where dealers are kind of specialized a little bit more. They're focused more on customer service and brand experience that allow them to connect with the consumers. . . . I think lines up really well with what Mosaic tries to do with our branding and our product, so we continue to see and find new relationships around the country and around the world with very focused types of bike shops that are being very successful."
It's been working. "Over the last three to four years we've trended somewhere between 10 to 20 percent growth every year," says Barcheck, a number he says he is more than happy to stay at. "We want to see sustained growth."
He adds, "It's about just being very diligent about finding the right partners, containing that small growth year over year, adding the right pieces, and getting to a level where we can be a profitable, sustainable company and at a scale that makes sense for the product."
Challenges: "We're a small business. We're a six- or seven-person crew. For us to play in a bigger marketplace comes with its unique challenges. You only have so much capital and so much bandwidth for projects which at times is very challenging," Barcheck says.
Opportunities: "Our opportunity has been and will continue to be a young, very flexible company within the industry right now," Barcheck says. "Hopefully, [the company can] meet the needs of this kind of new generation of cyclist that has been in the sport for a while and are getting into their second, third, fourth bike, trying new equipment, and trying new types riding."
Needs: Barcheck points to "access to credit lines and whatnot to bring on more inventory, allowing our process to be more efficient. I don't think those issues ever really go away for small businesses."