Our significant others are remarkably accommodating women. Mike’s main restraint is time, while mine is space. Without support from our partners, we wouldn’t get around these restraints. Mine has dealt with wheels (and bikes, and boxes, and various other stuff) crowding her out of our living room for so long she’s probably forgotten what it’s like not to have them there, while Mike’s family might be in danger of forgetting what he’s like (just kidding – it’s just a lot of work for him to cover all his bases).
We’ve often referred to the idea that space is just an expense that would add to our costs and yours, which at this point is completely true. A dedicated space right now would make our work a lot easier, but we aren’t yet big enough to use one efficiently. So we make do with Mike’s shed, my living room, and our elegant storage unit in the wilds of Kensington.
Time has a similar set of circumstances around it; we aren’t yet big enough to dedicate all of our time to November. Doing so would DEFINITELY make our lives easier, more fun, it would probably improve the local weather, buds on trees would come out sooner and bloom longer, kids would pay more attention in school, commodity prices would stabilize… Alas, getting to that point isn’t a simple deal, so for the foreseeable future, we’ll continue to work around it. People are usually shocked when they send us an email at 10pm and get a response at 11:30 that night or 5:30 the next morning – when you have client meetings and concrete to pour during the day, you often have to make do with time out of that time.
So will we get big enough to have a space, and actually put ourselves to work full time? Well, it’s time for one of my favorite bits of Maine wisdom – “tough saying, without knowing.” Obviously we’d love to. I wouldn’t exactly say that we obsess over it, but we’re very driven towards it. But our growth has got to be organic. Neither of us is into growth for growth’s sake. Right now, ours is a supremely market-driven growth map. Standing at out tent at CX races last fall, we were able to ply enough of you with good beer to get ourselves out of the gate. Things went smoothly from there, and word of mouth is doing a ton of leg work for us now. If we continue to do what we promise to do, how we promise to, that ought to continue, and we ought to experience substantial growth in the coming year. Whether that growth is enough for us to realize the ambition of doing this full time, who can say?
For the time being, we are asynchronous to normal business hours, or perhaps a better way of saying it is that we’re just at it when we’re at it (I’m writing this as I take a lunch break, for example). We know that people sometimes have a hard time understanding our policy of shipping wheels even to customers who are close by. And when we’ve grown to the point where we are working on this “full time” (quotes since it often feels like we are putting full time time into it) and we have a location where we pretty much need to be for long stretches anyway, you’ll be able to come by and hang out and pick your stuff up. For the time being, we have to be super efficient and adaptable with our time – a dead 30 minutes becomes a chance to lace up a few wheels, a random hour is a chance to get to the storage unit and restock supplies, a lunch break (that I’m officially stretching right now) becomes a chance to do a blog post.
Another big question is where exactly will our growth come from? We’ve gotten a lot of positive response (which we love) for how we’ve done what we’ve done so far. The next logical steps are simply to grow the things we’ve started – organically build awareness of our frames and wheels so that we sell more of those. We’ll have the CX bike for next year, and we have the TT bike in process. Along with that, we continue to travel the path of being a “stuff bike racers want” company, and the market has done a nice job of giving us a good idea of where we can go.
For the meantime, however, we live with the constraints that we have, and focus primarily on doing what it is we’ve set out to do, at least as well as we set out to do it. Sometimes this means passing up an enticing opportunity. For example, we’d have LOVED to have the CX bike ready for this season. The market was LOUDLY telling us that it wanted this from us. But our job is to realize that the market wants our CX bike under the same circumstances that it learned of our Wheelhouse – as the result of a relatively unhurried and thorough process which gave us a heck of a lot of confidence in our ability to deliver. Time didn’t allow us to get the CX bike done with that caveat, so we didn’t do it. If it takes us an extra year of grinding away the way we have been before we can realize next goal in our plan, so be it.
Hopefully our women folk continue to understand.