Bike industry - unlike any other
Bicycle industry, from a layman's point of view, may not seem divergent from the rest. But when you look closely you’ll see that it’s completely different. Although the bike industry is one of many in the world, it is also the only one built solely on passion. Do you know a university that offers studies in the field of cycling development, bicycle construction or design? Even finding a bicycle mechanic course is not that easy, not to mention acquiring all the rest of the industry knowledge. So where do these people come from? What are brands, huge concerns, millions of manufactured bicycles made of? It may sound unbelievable, but they are built from the passion and lifestyle that cycling actually is.
There are no random people here, no one chooses the bicycle industry because of the latest trend, the popularity of the field of study, or simply as a potentially good way to earn money. Each of the people working in the cycling industry is passionate about it. Her or his interest and willingness to work with bicycles was born out of love for two wheels. Where did they get their knowledge from? From the courtyard. Literally. It is in the courtyards and in garages that the first city, road and mtb bikes were made and still being created. People exchange knowledge, experiment, learn from their mistakes and implement ideas.
An industry without profile education
Can you imagine that a large chunk of executives from well-known bicycle brands have no university degree? The bicycle industry is the only one, or at least one of the few, in which people in managerial positions often do not have higher education. Why? Not because they were not smart enough to enter college, but because for many decades the bicycle industry was on the sidelines and not taken seriously, on a par with finance, marketing, automotive or any other industry and business. These people are the best example of how incredible strength is passion and willingness to improve in what you love the most, even when you do not have the opportunity to reach for specialized, systematized knowledge.
It is not surprising that today it is very difficult to "get from the street" into this closed but extremely interesting world. History proves that no one but those passionate people who are called dreamers or madmen has ever taken seriously the idea of creating and producing bicycles. For 2 centuries, bicycles have been seen mainly as childish toys or a cheap means of transport for those who couldn’t afford a car. Times have changed, and the situation of the last two years has cardinally reversed views on two-wheelers, and at the same time caused an incredible shock and a completely unexpected rapid development of the bicycle industry. More and more two-wheeled "toys" exceed the value of the average car and more and more people are beginning to understand why.
Bicycle industry shortages
Year 2020 brought a completely unexpected, spectacular increase in the interest and demand for bikes and accessories. The global market at $ 65.43 billion in 2019 achieved a positively shocking increase to 97.20 billion in 2020 according to a report published by Fortune Business Insights. The CAGR forecasts hover around 6%, which by 2027 is expected to increase the value of the global bicycle market to $ 147.24 billion.
The extraordinary increase in demand for products has resulted in the explosive growth of existing brands and the emergence of a number of new ones. Most of the newly created brands specialize in e-bikes, cargo bikes and fleets of bicycles for business (b2b).
Rapid, even when positive changes in any market never take place without problems. In the bicycle industry, the deficit has become such. Most often, when talking about it we of course mean the shortages of carbon material for the production of frames, drive groups and other components, but that's not all. The deficit in the current bicycle industry also means huge staff shortages.
Increase in production, development of legendary brands and emergence of new ones created a tremendous demand for qualified employees. For an industry built and for many decades based mainly on passion and self-education, the term "skilled worker" sounds quite controversial and currently applies only to people who have been working in the industry for years.
However, more and more cycling companies offer their own education, internships, trainee and professional formation courses. Very well known example would be DT Swiss, a worldwide known brand from Switzerland, which established the DT Swiss Academy - a learning platform that allows people passionate about cycling get the professional skills and knowledge both online and offline, on the company’s premises. This kind of approach once again shows how nothing, even the lack of interest and engagement from the public educational facilities, cannot stop the passion that made the bike industry to grow and develop.
Work in the bicycle industry today
Employers, especially brands with a long history, are still trying to stick to the principle of not employing "outsiders". In their case, even extensive experience in sales or marketing, combined with a passion for cycling and knowledge about the industry, is not enough. Smaller brands are less restrictive in the selection of new employees, but it is often combined with a less attractive salary. Hopefully this situation will change quickly to help steady development of the bike brands on one side and to open a possibility for highly qualified bikelovers from other industries to join the cycling on the other.
However passion and actual experience remain the most important requirements for candidates for now. This is understandable because unlike any other industry, cycling is not just an 8 to 16 job. People outside this world see us as madmen who never get enough of two wheels. For a bicycle enthusiast, there is no clear line between work and free time. Most often, these two concepts interpenetrate each other. It is amazing how a machine made for fun gave the beginning to a whole world, a new way of life and the only addiction that actually makes us happy in a way that is compatible with nature.
Transition to the bicycle industry, is it possible?
If in 1908, as the first T models rolled off the production line, someone told Henri Ford that in 112 years the bicycle would become a huge competitor to the car, Henry would have called one crazy. Today, however, this is not a joke anymore. The industry, which for many decades lived in garages and was not perceived as wholesome, today is at the forefront of a global revolution not only in the way of traveling or spending free time, but also in a fundamental change in the world view and approach to everyday life.
It is amazing how many people who, in 2019, did not even think about where the bikes come from, suddenly want to become part of one of the most dynamically developing branches of business in the world. Of course, from the insider's point of view, it’s easy to understand such a desire, but not every new candidate understands the phenomenon of the industry enough to even have a chance to join it.
Is the career in the bike industry right for me?
For many people used to the "standard" office work, the transition to the cycling industry can be a shock. Before making such a decision, it is worth considering whether you really want to completely change your life. As harsh as it may sound, the mere possession of a bicycle does not make you a passionate person whose days and nights are always somehow connected with this two-wheeled "addiction".
It is not easy to put into words the meaning of being part of the cycling world, but think about a situation where cycling, for one reason or another, may cease to be a huge part of your life. Are you ok with such an option? If so, don't change anything, stay in a warm position in a bank or a pharmaceutical company. If, however, at the very thought that you would never feel the fresh wind on your face, the salty sweat on your forehead, the pain after sitting in the saddle for many hours; would not unpack a new glowing drive, ride a brand new bike for the first time or reach the next summit you feel tightness in your chest and great sadness, it is a sign that you have no choice, you have to become part of a professional cycling family.
How to get a job in the cycling industry?
It will not be easy to gain the trust of the cycling family, but if you have climbed more than one long climb in your life, you know how to be persistent on the way to your goal. Do not give up, extend your cycling knowledge and use all available means to finally open the door of a magical industry built on passion and love for pedalling.
Make sure you have a suitable CV, focus on both your professional experience and the passion and knowledge about the bike industry. If you’re not sure, if you’re going in the right direction, get advice from people specializing in recruiting employees for bicycle brands.
Many people, who have the passion and the knowledge somehow forget to mention it in their CVs and that is why they often get rejected. It is very important to show your connection to cycling and introduce yourself as a person passionate about this special world.
If the bicycle was only your extremely absorbing hobby so far, and your wife or husband watched with horror as you rolled in the next bike into the living room, now if you decide that this is the opportunity you've been waiting for all your life, you have a real chance to turn your passion into a career!
By Katya Gasenko for biciTALENT