How to Break Into the Cycling Industry – Transition Bikes’ Kevin Menard

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Kevin’s business card at Transition Bike Co.

It’s a new year, and perhaps your resolutions of shedding the shackles of corporate life for the fun and adventure of cycling are still fresh in your mind. Here, as inspiration (or a kick in the butt, take it how you will) is proof positive that it doesn’t much matter what you’re doing now, you can indeed break into the cycling industry…

BIKERUMOR: Who are you and what are you doing here?

KEVIN: My name is Kevin Menard and I own 50% of Transition Bikes. As an owner of a small business you end up doing a ton of things on a daily basis but my main title is sales and marketing director. I drive the brand direction and image of the company and all the relationships with our fine customers.

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BIKERUMOR: What was your first job or experience in the cycling industry? How did you “break” in?

KEVIN: Believe it or not a long time ago I used to work for a recumbent manufacturer in Seattle. In case you are under the age of 35, a recumbent is a bicycle that you fully recline in and your pedals are out in front of you. It was a pretty awesome job where I got to learn every aspect of bicycle manufacturing and running a bike business. I did bicycle assembly, helped in the fabrication department, built wheels by hand, designed websites and catalogs, answered phones and did dealer sales and tradeshow demos.

BIKERUMOR: What’s your educational background?

KEVIN: This is another hard one to believe but I started out studying criminal justice to become a police officer. That lasted about a year and I changed my degree to Media Communication Technology which involved graphic design, video production and multimedia type stuff. To be honest I dropped out before I got my actual degree to do some world traveling and then just never felt it necessary to go back.

Kevin and Kyle in Japan with DH Champ and Junior Champ

Kevin and Kyle in Japan with DH Champ and Junior Champ

BIKERUMOR: After that first experience/job, what was the path to your current position?

KEVIN: After my first bike industry job I got married and figured I would do something that paid the bills a bit better so I got a job in the telecommunications industry. Great pay but definitely not something my heart was into. I was working there with my now partner Kyle Young and over a game of ping pong we thought it would be fun to start a bike company as a side hobby. Twelve years later we are living our dream and couldn’t ask for anything else.

BIKERUMOR: What’s a normal day for you?

KEVIN: I try to ride at least four days a week so I try to involve riding into almost every daily routine whether it is my commute to the shop or ditching out early to go for a ride. I try to keep normal hours for the sanity of my family so 9 to 5 you can usually find me at the shop but getting out to ride or do some rad trip or video shoot is often the case. At this point we have employees that do many of the jobs we used to do all ourselves so much of the day is communicating with employees and make sure everything is running smooth.

The Transition crew's Christmas Card. Photo: Paris Gore.

The Transition crew’s Christmas Card. Photo: Paris Gore.

BIKERUMOR: What are the highlights of your job?

KEVIN: Best part of the job is the people I work with and the traveling we get to do. We have a rad crew of 10 guys that all eat, sleep and breathe Transition and love to ride and are truly passionate about the industry. Traveling is another great highlight and owning this company has taken me all over the U.S. and Canada and the world to ride my bike. Places I would have never gone on my own and allowed me to push my limits as a rider as I chase down locals. Product wise I think the highlight was the BottleRocket. It was the bike that put us on the map in the industry and allowed us to quit our jobs and start hiring employees. We felt like we invented a category with that bike that changed the direction of how bikes were designed not just by us but by other companies.

BIKERUMOR: What could you do without?

KEVIN: I do feel like as an industry as a whole we all take ourselves too seriously. From how companies market their products to comments on the internet. At the end of the day it is all about just riding and having fun with your friends on the trail. I’ve always enjoyed a lot of BMX companies and how they market and live their lifestyle and how they focus on the people and the riding experience.

Photo: Paris Gore

Photo: Paris Gore

BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give to someone looking to follow your path today?

KEVIN: It may be a little cliché, but almost every successful entrepreneur I know will say the same thing about starting a business, don’t do it for the money. Earning money is something every business needs to do but if it drives the decisions you make you will end up compromising relationships with your customers, dealers, factories and your employees.

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satisFACTORYrider
satisFACTORYrider
7 years ago

truly rider owned for life. continued success to those boys in ferndale! it’s like kids in the hall with shred

Chainwhipped
7 years ago

Cool. You guys ever take that self-extracting head tube into full production?

word up
word up
7 years ago

does dirty fingers still have a few of your demo bikes to try out?

Mr. P
7 years ago

Love this. The last quote is some profound shit.

P

David Pharr
7 years ago

Thanks Transition for the most fun I’ve ever had in my life! Thanks for GREAT bikes and Great customer service. Transition for life!

JMH
JMH
7 years ago

To think you could have been a doctor in the former Soviet Union… I am glad you chose bikes instead.

HoldMyBeerWatchThis
HoldMyBeerWatchThis
7 years ago

This is the reason why I continue to ride Transition Bikes. Rider owned and you can actually pick up the phone and call them. Kevin even happens to answer sometimes.

Jase
7 years ago

Great read. Between my wife and I we’ve owned 10 Transitions over the years and we have no intention of stopping any time soon. I feel like the brand’s ethos is what makes your bikes fun (reflected in the geometry of your bikes). Keep making rad bikes!

gsmith
gsmith
7 years ago

What the hell is a self-extracting head tube?