The Columbus Chamber and CD102.5 have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, host and local comedian Dan Swartwout will speak with local business owners and entrepreneurs and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.
As a youngster when Steve Buddendeck asked for a very nice bike, he was met with the dad response of “you’ll be into something else by next week.”
“And here I am, still into BMX,” Buddendeck says with a laugh. He’s proven his dad wrong.
“That’s why I started the company,” he jokes.
From a childhood hobby, Buddendeck has built a life around BMX. From riding as a youngster, to photographing some of the best bikers, to being involved in the early iterations of what would become the X Games, he’s now at the helm of his own company, Verde Bikes.
“Verde Bikes is a BMX bike company and when I describe what it is to people they always think we’re a bike shop; we’re a brand,” Buddendeck says.
Formed in 2007, Verde Bikes are sold at over 300 retailers across the U.S., and even across the ocean with an international market. Buddendeck describes their design-focused brand as one their target customer of 12-15 year old boys won’t get made fun of for riding. Building the best bikes at the best factory, the focus is to get young riders the right equipment so they will stay interested. A Verde Bike is not about following trends.
Columbus has proven to be an extremely pivotal part of that success. Verde was almost a Dayton-based company, but some fortuitous circumstances sent the bike company to Central Ohio.
“From a logistics side, we had no idea how good it was,” Buddendeck says. “Bikes are heavy and they come in big boxes and they’re difficult to ship, they’re expensive to ship, so we really lucked out.”
The city’s reputation as a logistics hub has actually brought many bike warehouses to the region. But outside of location, Buddendeck found Columbus also has a larger pool of talent.
“It’s a really optimistic, educated and young, vibrant city,” he says.
During the podcast, Buddendeck chronicles how BMX and the bike industry have changed over the years.
“We had no idea how big the market was and our brand got big really fast,” he says.
Partnering a 135 day lead time and doubling unit sales year over year, forecasting was no easy task.
“Our solution was to build bikes a lot, build them all the time, and try to satisfy every corner of the world,” Buddendeck says.
Instead of two to three production runs a year as is typical in the industry, Verde Bike’s cash-flow and model upped that number to seven runs a year.
“When competitors ran out of bikes, we always had more coming and that really helped us skyrocket,” Buddendeck says.
Verde Bikes knew the market would taper off – and it did as electronics entered the picture. Buddendeck details the fight for a fickle customer’s money – or more accurately their parents’ money – and how social media has continued to change the game.
“I have to tell our story over and over and over and over, and I have to keep it new and exciting,” he says.
Listen to the full podcast below as Buddendeck chats more about the brand’s creation and shares his number one piece of advice for budding business owners.
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