Quality Bicycle Products

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Quality Bicycle Products (QBP)
Type Private
Industry Bicycle parts and accessories distribution
Founded 1981
Headquarters Bloomington, MN, USA
Key people Steve Flagg, Founder
Products Surly Bikes
Revenue Increase$150 million USD (2008)
Employees 450 [1] (2008)
Website www.qbp.com

Quality Bicycle Products is the largest distributor of bicycle parts and accessories in the bicycle industry,[1] with revenues of $150 million in 2008.[2][3] In addition to wholesaling bicycles and components from other manufacturers, QBP owns and manufactures several brands of its own. QBP also participates in activities which support its community through cycling advocacy[1] and green building.[1]

History[edit]

Founded by Steve Flagg and Mary Henrickson in 1981, QBP operated from a small office in St. Paul, MN. The company did $100,000 of sales during its first year.[4] Business improved in the second year with sales reaching $250,000.[4] In 1983 the company continued to grow, achieving half a million dollars in sales.[4] It was mountain bikes, a new phenomenon on the biking scene in the mid 1980s that fueled the company’s dramatic growth. QBP specialized in importing hard-to-find mountain-bike parts from suppliers in Japan.[4] By the end of its fourth year, QBP hired its first employee and sold $1 million in parts.[4] For the next 26 years the company averaged 33 percent growth per year.[4] The number of employees tripled from 1987 to 1993, prompting moves to successively larger facilities in Richfield and then Bloomington. In 1996, when there were 60 employees, QBP purchased a 67,000-square-foot (6,200 m2) warehouse on its current site in West Bloomington.

QBP purchased Salsa Cycles in 1997, a California-based mountain-bike manufacturer. The following year, QBP entered the emerging single-speed bike market with its in-house designed Singleator chain tensioner. Later in 1998, this product and the new Rat Ride single-speed frame (soon renamed the 1X1) helped launch the company’s new start-up, Surly Bikes. After that, the company continued developing brands for under-served markets, adding specialty parts with Problem Solvers, value parts and accessories with Dimension, and high-end components with Winwood. QBP also became the exclusive U.S. distributor for Jagwire, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of bicycle brake and derailleur components including pads, cables and cable housing.

By 2000, QBP employed 150 people and expanded its warehouse to 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2). In 2004, the company was named a Tier 1 Distributor by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News magazine.[5] That same year, QBP took first place in the Specialized Commuter Cup Challenge and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation as the Best Workplace for Commuters.

In 2006, QBP completed its distribution center and office complex. In addition to the environmental benefits of a LEED-designed building, QBP reduced waste further by introducing paperless order picking. At the height of its summer busy season, the company shipped 3,000 boxes in one day and achieved its first $3 million week.[4] The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the facility LEED Gold certification in 2007.[4] At the end of 2006, QBP launched Q-Active, a distribution enterprise catering to independent ski and run retailers.[4]

Responding to the growing trend of bike commuting and “transportation-oriented” cycling, QBP created the Civia bike brand in 2007. The following year, QBP transformed Wheelhouse, its dealer-oriented wheel-building service, into Handspun, a consumer-oriented manufacturer of hand-trued and custom-built wheels. QBP also founded All-City, which offers single-speed and fixed-gear bikes, parts and accessories for urban bicycling. In late 2008, QBP was awarded Gold-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).[6] In 2009, the company achieved Platinum-level status, the LAB’s highest designation.[6]

QBP has opened a second distribution center in Ogden, Utah in the spring of 2010 that has also been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.[7]

QBP has opened a third distribution center in MIDDLETOWN, PA in December 2011[8]

QBP was named one of America's Top Work Places by Outside Magazine in 2011.[9]

Brands[edit]

The company owns ten brands including the following: All City, Civia, Dimension, Foundry, Handspun, Problem Solvers, Salsa Cycles, Surly, Whisky Parts Co. and 45Nrth.

QBP is also the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ridley, a Belgian manufacturer of road, mountain and cyclocross bikes, and through its Q-Active division, the company distributes products to independent ski, run and outdoor retailers.

Business and industry advocacy[edit]

QBP provides services and programs to dealers including custom bike and wheel building, shock and brake treatment and ReTale, a merchandising and store design program. QBP regularly advocates for national and local trail-building initiatives. Working with grassroots citizens groups, the company lobbies for federal funds in Washington, DC and works with state departments of transportation and local advocacy groups to implement programs like Safe Routes to School; the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program for a Minneapolis cycling network; Mountain bike trail, BMX track and bike path projects; and Bike-to-work programs and bike-rack donations for area businesses. The Advocacy team also actively promotes cycling among QBP employees by sponsoring a Commuter Bike League, bike-to-work days and a commuter credit cash reimbursement program; assisting novice bike commuters with maps and route information; and providing bike racks, showers, lockers and safety escort services.[10]

Every February, QBP hosts Frostbike, an industry tradeshow and educational forum that draws vendors and retailers from around the world.[1] Perceived by many bicycle dealers as an opportunity to see products not offered at the late-summer Interbike tradeshow in Las Vegas,[1] Frostbike also offers numerous business and technical seminars.

The company actively encourages employees to improve customer service by continually developing “environmental and efficiency-oriented innovation.”[11] To facilitate this process, QBP developed Great Results Improving Processes (GRIP), a program that combines principles from Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen and Total Quality Management.[11] QBP implements employee-developed practices in virtually all areas of its business, from warehouse productivity and waste reduction to environmental sustainability. Through the GRIP program, QBP saved approximately $2.2 million in 2008.[11] That same year, QBP CEO Steve Flagg received an Ernst & Young's entrepreneur award among Upper Midwest distributors.

Facility[edit]

A strong proponent of environmental business practices, QBP received Gold level LEED certification in 2007 from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new distribution center and office complex.[11] The 135,000-square-foot (12,500 m2) facility features many energy and resource-saving features including recycled building materials; extensive natural lighting and high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures; water-saving technologies; and a 40-kilowatt solar-panel array that provides four percent of the building’s annual energy.[11] Additionally, grounds landscaped with rain gardens and porous pavers to promote natural evaporation of storm runoff; drought-resistant prairie grasses require no irrigation. 30 percent more efficient than required by Minnesota state code, the structure generates significantly lower long-term maintenance and operation costs than a conventional building.[11] QBP’s efforts were recognized in 2007 with the first annual Carbon Buster Award from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar[12] and in 2008 with a Minnesota Governor’s Award for Environmental Practices.[11]

Advocacy, community service and environment[edit]

QBP strives to create a values-centered community where its employees can achieve personal growth and work in a socially responsible manner. Its Advocacy, Community Service, and Environment (ACE) program provides opportunities to participate in socially oriented programs like Trips for Kids, Loaves & Fishes charity kitchen, World Bicycle Relief and Red Cross Youth Bikes. The ACE Environment committee supports QBP’s environmental initiatives with a company-wide recycling program, Vermicomposting and outdoor composting, and a used bike tire recycling service for area retailers. QBP donates 6 percent of after-tax profits to ACE each year.[13]

The QBP Commuter Program rewards employees that bike or use alternative transportation with “credits” they can use to purchase company products or redeem for lunches from local restaurants.[11] The company also provides showers, lockers, a free towel service, a fully stocked workshop for repairs and plentiful indoor and outdoor bike parking.[6] Greenlightride.com, an interactive website QBP developed to support its competitive Commuter Bike League, helps cyclists record their miles, create teams, track statistics and network with other riders. The free service is open to the public.[14] In 2008, 15 percent of the company’s 453 employees biked to work, averaging a one-way commute of 12 miles (19 km) and logging a collective 325,000 miles.[6] The Bicycle League of America recognized these achievements in 2009 by awarding the company Platinum Level status as a Bicycle Friendly business.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Zinn, Lennard (May 2009). "Putting the Quality in Your Bicycles". VeloNews (Competitor Group Inc.). pp. 91–92. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  2. ^ St. Anthony, Neal (September 20, 2008). "Parts come together". Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN: Star Tribune). Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  3. ^ D’Ambrosio, Dan (August–September 2010). "Indistry Profile QBP". Adventure Cyclist (Adventure Cycling Association). Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gee, David (December 2007). "Pedal Power". Minnesota Business: 48–55. 
  5. ^ "Our Company - Awards: Past Awards". QBP. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Bicycle Friendly Business: Quality Bicycle Products Platinum Level". League of American Bicyclists. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  7. ^ Staff, BRAIN (2012-07-05). "QBP earns LEED certification for Utah center". Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Retrieved 2012-12-08. 
  8. ^ Staff, BRAIN (2011-12-05). "QBP's East Coast warehouse up and running". Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  9. ^ The Editors (August 15, 2011). "49. Quality Bicycle Products". Outside Magazine. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  10. ^ "Advocacy". QBP. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Lahouze, Andrea (August 2009). "(Re)Cycling Revolution". Enterprise Minnesota Magazine. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  12. ^ "Senator Klobuchar’s Carbon Buster Awards of Excellence". Senator Klobuchar. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  13. ^ "Making the World a Better Place with ACE". QBP. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  14. ^ "Civia Challenges Industry to a Showdown". Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 

External links[edit]