I feel like half my stories being with "an old boss of mine..." and this one does too. An old boss of mine was great when you brought him a problem, so long as you'd thought it through and developed two possible ways around it. They didn't need to be absolutely perfect solutions, but they had to be good and well thought through. With all of the twists and turns that the bike industry's supply chain is throwing at us and everyone else, it's time for some solutions. Fortunately, we have some.
Over the past three months, we've ordered a ton of White Industries hubs for stock, in order to cut down what had at first been a 3 week lead time, then was 5, and is now 10 weeks. While a good amount of these hubs have been sold, there are still a lot available. Variables being myriad in hubs, the drillings are limited and the colors are Henry Ford style (black). All of the other standard offering hub manufacturers are at long lead times now, so we felt it best to concentrate our stock with White Industries, which have always been our best selling hub option. At each intersection of "we have hubs and rims to go together in a build," we've created a QuickShip™ option for that build.
I'm taking two MBA classes this semester (and don't look now but I'm almost done with that sucker), and my strategic management professor and I had a moment of profound agreement a few classes ago when talking about quality. He and I are both allergic to calling things "high quality" without any relative qualifier. I wrote a post explaining my thoughts on this a few years ago, which is here.
Since we don't have all of the lacing options covered with what's available in our White Industries stock, we've made Bitex 106 hubs a standard option in QuickShip™ builds. We've sold a lot of Bitex hubs over the years, and they've been great. They offer a price to performance trade that affords them a similar price to performance ratio as the more expensive hubs we sell. A Bitex free hub body won't last as long as a White Industries free hub, and the tolerances aren't quite as close, so there is a bit of an expected lifespan ding there, but that bears out in the lower initial price. From a business perspective, they've been tough for us because our cost components (100% hand building by me, and high-touch service) are less easy to bury in lower priced hubs. These times demand compromises, though. You need wheels to ride before you're waxing skis, and we'd like to remain the best solution for that need. Pretty simple, really.
Parts availability will continue to be a mess for the foreseeable future. We're dancing around it as well as we can, and for the most part we've kept the beat quite well, we think. Hopefully these moves are a great solution all around.