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Bike Manufacturer Sales Jobs?(14 posts)

Bike Manufacturer Sales Jobs?steel rider
Oct 23, 2003 11:08 PM
So how does an experienced [read 36 year old makes decent $] successful [not laid off! :)] Bay Area hi-tech sales guy get a job working for a bike or accessory manufacturer? I just don't see these jobs advertised and my LBS buddies say it's a tough market.
I have a lot of bike (mtb, roadie, cc, etc) knowledge but no specific industry work experience.
Any input appreciated.

Thanks
It is who you know not what you know......abicirider
Oct 24, 2003 2:48 AM
The way the economy is now it is tough it really is a connection thing as the old saying goes it really is who you know not what you know, especially if you have not worked in the cycling industry before. Couple of thoughts from your LBS try to get a copy of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News in the back is the help wanted ads most that is offered is for experienced independent reps but you may run into something also go the United Bicycle Institute(UBI) website they have a help wanted job wanted section you can for free post a thread stating you are looking to get in the cycling industry. Couple of other things get a list of manufactures suppliers in your area start mailinmg your resume may get lucky but again I really feel its who you know not what you know.
Best of luck hope it works out for you
Be Safe out on the roads!!!!!!
Ray Still
Learn Chinesebimini
Oct 24, 2003 4:09 AM
Since the majority of bicycles are coming in from Tiawan and Mainland China, knowing Chinese would be helpful. San Fran is one of the major trading ports for bicycles in the US so there may be those types of jobs available, otherwise you will need to go to Tiawan to find a job with a bicycle manufacturer.

This is the unfortunate state of affairs in regards to US "manufacturing" jobs. However, sales is a little different, the foreign companys like having a clean cut Americans selling thier products for them. If you can speak thier language it will give you a leg up.
Manufacturers RepDave Hickey
Oct 24, 2003 4:30 AM
Instead of working for a single manufacturer, why not start your own business and represent many companies. That way your not limiting yourself to one brand or product. Many small manufacturers cannot afford a sales staff and hire manufacturers reps instead.
Rep Jobsteoteoteo
Oct 24, 2003 5:17 AM
Rep jobs are a tough score. Just about every good shop employee is willing to make the jump and for the most part the jobs NEVER make it to point they are listed or advertised. By the time the job is created or one rep steps down 10 canidates are lined up and the sales manager has someone in mind.

A shop guy will take and inside sales job with say Specialized and then fight out with all of the qualified other inside guys when an outside job comes open.

One of the best things I have done is talk to reps that I get along well with, ask them to keep me in mind if they hear anything. The existing reps hear about things while there is still a chance to actually get the job.

Dave Hickey has the right idea, get some smaller products and build.

Good Luck.
More rep stuff...Chicago_Steve
Oct 24, 2003 6:47 AM
First a little background... My main job for the last 10 years has consisted of working with industrial reps and distributors in training and sales. I have also done a year and a half working part time at REI, first as a general salesperson then later as a mechanic in their bike department. Most REI stores are pretty pro-active about having factory salepeople and reps stop by for product training. In my time there I sat through presentations from Patagonia, SRAM, Marin, Thule, Yakima, Arcteryx, Teva, Sierra Designs, etc.

Bigger companies that can afford regional salespeople usually have factory direct people that work a territory. Smaller companies that don't have the budget for a field sales force hire independent representatives that "represent" their product in a designated territory. Usually these independent reps have multiple companies that they represent. In a region like the Midwest (where I live) this can mean a territory from the Dakota's all the way to Ohio. If you don't like to do a lot of overnight traveling then this type of job is not for you.

I do feel that there is a big hole for QUALITY reps in the bike and outdoors industry. My experience was that many reps come in and spew technical data about their products and repeat the "whats new" info that you find in the mfr's literature. What they don't do teach you how to do is SELL the product to a customer. A bike is somewhat of a technical product with it's materials, frame sizes, shifting, etc. A good sales person concentrates on the needs of the customer and works from there. Factory salesmen seemed a little better about teaching this to dealers then reps but that's probably because they are only responsible for a single company's product line.

I'd love to hear feedback from other guys that work in shops? What do you think of the quality of the reps and factory guys that come by your shop?
Rep qualityTJeanloz
Oct 24, 2003 7:16 AM
I had pretty universally good reps to deal with. On the occasions where we had a mediocre rep, we just dealt more with the inside guy than the outside rep. This might have to do with region though, as I suspect the Rocky Mountains probably has better reps, in general, than the midwest or southeast.

The bigger companies had better reps - mostly due to their ability to pay a little bit better and get better people. Companies like FSA generally had lousy reps. But for the most part, our reps were all decent. I'd say the factory reps tended to be worse, because they were trying to rep such a broad range. The Trek guy isn't just trying to sell you bikes - he's also got clothing, helmets, pumps, tools, bags, shoes, etc. In my experience they tended to have bigger holes in their knowledge than the reps who dealt with specific, smaller product lines.
start at the bottomLO McDuff
Oct 24, 2003 5:36 AM
Most manufacturers' reps start in customer service or inside sales. I knew several people who worked at Dash - Pearl Izumi (yeah, I know not a bike manufacturer) who started doing customer service at 8 bucks an hour. The pay is abyssmal. Keep checking the distributor's websites, sometimes you will see a listing for an outside rep.
re: Bike Manufacturer Sales Jobs?wspokes
Oct 24, 2003 6:20 AM
Bike Reps...hmmm...bottom feeders in a sort of way. The Good ones never last long at companies...the Bull$hitter$ seem to stick around longer. They are especially fun when dealing with warranty issues. Ask most LBS owners...we love them. *snicker*
It's tough,TJeanloz
Oct 24, 2003 6:25 AM
It's a pretty tough clique to break into. I'd say its very rare for somebody without a career in the industry to have a higher-up sales job - but it does happen. It's all about the network. When I was leaving my post as a bike shop manager (as I graduated from college), I had a number of opportunities to go into the next level of the industry (which wasn't something I wanted to do). But I had spent four years building contacts, and I knew just about everybody in the industry.

The best bet is probably to go through Bicycle Retailer, and look for openings there. Their classifieds are posted online at bicycleretailer.com. It wouldn't be a bad move to take a management position at one of the bigger chains, either - a lot of those guys are drawn over to the manufacturer side.
why?gtx
Oct 24, 2003 8:15 AM
All the guys I know who went from working in shops to being reps got pretty burned out pretty fast and they never had time to ride. I think the bike industry sucks on the whole. I'm glad I worked in shops from my teens through my mid twenties, but I'm glad I got out. The only way I'd consider going back in is if I started my own company or shop. But if you are really serious a good first step might be to get a part time job working in a (good) shop on the weekend.
Always dicey to try and turn your hobby into a real job.innergel
Oct 24, 2003 10:37 AM
I've known several people who have done this in other industries, and they all have said it was a mistake. They think that because they go to work for a golf company, for instance, they'll get all these great perks and get to play golf all the time. We'll since they are out talking to customers all over the place, they never have the chance to actually go play. But they do get to go see some nice courses.

You might consider finding a rep and talking to them about the realities of the job over lunch one day. It would certainly be worth the price of lunch, and you will get some valuable insight into the profession. A college professor of mine made us do this for an assignment my junior year. Everyone in the class pissed and moaned about it, but we all learned a great deal about the realites of our chosen major.
re: Bike Manufacturer Sales Jobs?steel rider
Oct 24, 2003 2:07 PM
Good input all. I think I'm aware of most of the pitfalls you all mentioned, but it seems worth a try. I'm so burned out on schlepping software I could care less about - you know?
I was going to buy into a bike shop or open my own, but the weekends, inventory risks, and margins made it less appealing. Not to mention there's a plethora of shops around...
Thanks again.
i'm a rep and i love itcyclist of all trades
Oct 24, 2003 6:53 PM
i ride alot(5-6 days a week). i do 6 overnights/month. i have 100 good biking friends. i've been doing it for 8 years.

here is my path:
1989-1995; wrench then service mngr then store mngr
1995-1996; got hired by the numero uno bike company in the world as an inside rep. worked like hell and made a name for myself
1996-present; worked like a dog to establish good relationships w/ my customers and continue to this day.