Five years ago, this month, Chris Parr sat at his kitchen table and started a journey into the unknown. He was driven by the need to embrace change and create a meaningful business he believed in. Chris started manufacturing and selling bike tools online.
Now, June 2020, he and his wife Nicole are managing a thriving multi-million dollar family business selling in 11 countries, all while trying to home-school their kids during the pandemic and striving for a healthy work-life balance.
The past 12 months has seen PRO BIKE TOOL expand rapidly. Since June 2015, the business has entered new territories and sales channels, launched new tools, updated existing products, developed their website, and taken on new team members.
Like companies around the globe, PRO BIKE TOOL has had to tackle the uncertainties, complications, and fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Parrs and their five-year-old business are emerging from the peak of the crisis stronger and with a host of new learnings and a positive mindset.
EXPANSION AND SHIFTS IN THE MARKET
The cycling industry has been one of the few to see an upturn due to the impact of coronavirus as more and more people take to the bike for transport and leisure pursuits. The past months have inspired millions to ride for the first time, and occasional or lapsed riders have returned to two wheels and rediscovered their love of the bike.
Initially, the surge in demand coupled with disrupted shipping and manufacturing processes saw everybody on the PRO BIKE TOOL team working double time to meet the additional demand and answer customer questions, but it’s now a case of nearly back to business as usual – a new “usual”.
“It’s exciting to see a whole new generation of cyclists since the turn of the year,” said Chris. “Social distancing and limited social activities have seen more kids on bikes as families take to riding together as a leisure activity.
“And with that growth in demand for bikes, there has been a shift in what tools and accessories are needed – for example essential tools such as Bike Pumps and CO2 Inflators, as well as bicycle storage solutions for the home. We’ve been working closely with our partners and factories around the world to refine our operations through transport and manufacturing slowdowns, so that we can provide our customers with the essential kit they need in a timely manner.”
One of the key developments in the PRO BIKE TOOL range during the past year has been in bicycle storage, with the launch of a variety of wall racks, mounts, and floor stands. The move into the category came well timed; now that we are all spending more time at home and investing in additional bikes, the need for storage solutions became more necessary than ever.
The pandemic and its resulting uptick in the cycling industry has also reinforced Chris and Nicole’s plan to introduce ranges targeted more closely at cost-conscious entry-level riders, something that will be a key development in the coming 12 months.
CONTINUAL CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT
PRO BIKE TOOL has long prided itself on its customer service and community engagement, a product of the Parrs’ desire to offer the personal service of a small business with the quality and value of a premium global brand. This drive has continued further in the past year, with an increase in the brand’s customer service capacity, and a focus on content aimed at delivering added value to their customers.
Since COVID-19 took hold, PRO BIKE TOOL has delivered a range of blogs, newsletters and social media content aimed at supporting, advising and enabling riders through a time of uncertainty and despondency. The business has retained its commitment to the sporting side of cycling and continues to sponsor and provide tools to leading UK race team, Canyon DHB-p/b Soreen.
“Now more than ever, it’s vital to listen to what our customers want and need, and then add even more value through product development and outstanding customer care,” said Nicole. “Our commitment to our audience is embedded through our expanded customer experience team, focus on community engagement via social media, content and sponsorship.
“The trust that the customer puts in us is paramount to us. The feedback we receive is extremely valued and taken onboard, we strive for continual product enhancement and a top customer experience.”
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
As if all that wasn’t enough, Chris and Nicole have been busy caring for two teenage daughters as they support them with home-schooling through lockdown. With the parents working away in one room and the girls studying for exams in another, the Parr household has been a busy one.
The shared time under one roof has given them opportunities to explore new adventures, like family yoga sessions, inter-family cook-offs and bike rides together thanks to the girls’ new-found love of cycling.
To top it all, three month-old puppy Benji has joined the team. He makes sure the Parrs are getting regular breaks and continue with their motto: “work hard, play hard.”