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In a market dominated by major bike brands and large P&A distributors, dealers can still benefit from dealing with a smaller, more diversified partner who offers great service, expert product knowledge and access to important niches that the majors miss.
SCV Imports has been partnering with dealers across Australia for well over two decades, not just surviving, but thriving in the competitive bicycle industry environment. The company name was created from the initials of its founder Stuart Voysey, who is still full of enthusiasm and drive to continually improve his product offering.
After starting in Sydney, SCV has been based for many years on the Central Coast of NSW, just over an hour north of Sydney, where the population is smaller and less densely packed and the mountains are nearby so the riding is better!
Stuart says the key to SCV’s longevity and growth has been through offering their retail partners three key points of difference:
Same Day Turn Around
“It’s always been our policy here to get ordered products out on the same day,” Stuart explained. “That way we don’t have a snowball effect as the week goes on. We’re a small company. We’re nimble!”
Exclusively Top Quality Products
“We’ve found over the past 10 years that our warranty department has become almost obsolete,” Stuart reported. “Whereas previously, I pretty much had a full time guy on board to manage warranties and some of the OE (original equipment) servicing for some of the big bike brands, today there isn’t anyone employed at SCV specifically for warranties. I personally manage the warranties and it’s a very small part of my job.
“That’s because we’ve focused on companies that only manufacture to the highest quality. Companies like Chris King, Enduro bearings, Thompson, Wheels Manufacturing and Wolf Tooth out of the USA.
“We do quality brands out of Japan as well: Panaracer, Izumi, Nitto, MKS and Crane Bells.
“We could offer different brands that would be strong in the market at a lower price point, but we just don’t want to go there. We’ve found it ends up being more expensive having to manage the issues that you have with lower end products.”
SCV has always been a rider owned and operated company. The team that dealers call upon can answer their questions from first-hand experience.
As Stuart elaborated, “We pay our staff for the experience and knowledge they gain as the years go by, so we hold our staff for the long term. That comes back two fold. The retailers know they can call us, and we’re going to know what we’re talking about.
“If I take my 2IC, Chris Dmitrieff, for example, he’s been with us for over 11 years now. “He started as a packer, then phone sales and now he’s Business Operations Manager. He’s able to do his job and many others as needed and has a deep knowledge of our products to answer customers’ questions.
“Our Warehouse Manager, Ashley, he’s been here for over seven years. He knows the products well. He rides himself.
“A shop can ring and speak to any of us and we’ll have a solid amount of product knowledge.
“We’ve just employed James Naylor to our sales team. He worked for Trek at Clarence St, in the city centre of Sydney and he’s doing great. He’s able to ride a lot more gravel now that he’s seen the light and joined us on the Central Coast!”
SCV started small, selling only P&A, but later added niche brands of frame sets and complete bicycles to their range. Stuart ran through some highlights of both their bicycle and P&A brands. This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you an idea of the breadth of products available and their positions in the marketplace.
Parts & Accessories
“We sell a lot of products that are helpful to the bicycle store mechanic,” Stuart explained
“We’ve been with Wheels Manufacturing for over 15 years now. Everything is made in Colorado, USA. Their product range covers every variation, size and option that a mechanic might need to repair any bike.
“For example, they have over 400 different derailleur hangers now. They’ve got the largest range in the market. We pretty much decided from day one that we would carry almost every SKU that they have.
This is a bread and butter repair item for mechanics, along with axles for old Shimano hubs, head set spacers, shims, bolts, tool sets and more.
“There are so many bottom bracket variations out there today that you almost need a PhD to know them all, but we can help the mechanic with any problem. For example, if you’re running a 24 mm Shimano crank on a BB30 bottom bracket, Wheels makes the adaptor that makes that fit.”
SCV also knows that mechanics need the part immediately to get the repair finished and back to the customer. So they keep a very close eye on their stock. Because they airfreight direct from the Wheels factory in the USA, they’re able to quickly replenish stock.
“Enduro has been a fast growing brand for us that fits in nicely because Enduro bearings are compatible with high end brands such as Wheels manufacturing, White Industries, Hope, Industry Nine etc” Stuart revealed.
“We carry a lot of SKU’s for all the hubs and bottom brackets out there. This is also air freighted for quick turn-around, so that mechanics know where they can come for reliable supply of quality bearings.”
All bike enthusiasts are familiar with Chris King, who make a range of high end CNC machined components. Perhaps most famous are their coloured headsets that are a popular choice on many high end custom made bikes. Most Chris King products are precision bearing related, including hubs and bottom brackets.
“Chris King has been known in the bike industry for a long time as a product that you buy and can pretty much be handed down to your children! Their quality is hard to beat,” said Stuart. “All Chris King components manufactured in Portland, Oregon – it’s a flagship P&A brand for us.”
“I visited Thomson in America a few years ago,” Stuart recalled. “Before I visited their factory they said, ‘You do realise that it will be pretty much full of Boeing parts?’
“A small part of their large factory was dedicated to making their bicycle stems and seat posts. Their quality level is high for both bicycle and airliners. People are relying on them for their safety in both cases!”
“Wolf Tooth is another USA company, out of Minnesota, with a surprisingly large amount of SKU’s,” Stuart explained. “It has been selling through very quickly.
“Most of their products are items that you would fit to a lot of the bikes we’re selling. For example, adaptors that go onto your water bottle mounts on the frame so that you can move the bottle up and pack some multi-tools or a bag below the bottle.
“They do a lot of little upgrade kits, colourful alloy bolts and seat post dropper levers that include adaptors that let you integrate them with gear shift levers. They also do CNC machined chain rings. Anything small, trick that needs to be machined, is their forte.”
“We’ve also recently added Halo,” Stuart announced. “This is the home brand of Ison in the UK, which is one of the largest distributors there. Halo supplies us with medium to high end wheels.”
Complete Bikes and Framesets
Just like their P&A range, SCV’s bicycles are all market leaders in very particular niches.
“Salsa is predominantly an adventure, touring and gravel range, all with a slight race slant,” Stuart summarised. “They use a lot of carbon, but their bikes are still built to be able to bolt on accessories and go camping. If you were doing something like the Tour Divide (a popular unsupported ride across America) then Salsa do a bike called the Cutthroat, which is very popular for adventure and gravel racing.”
“Surly bikes are built to last a lifetime,” Stuart continued. “They’re pretty much all built from 4130 chromoly steel.
“They’re able to do everything from long touring rides through remote parts of the world, to just being a good sturdy urban commuter. They can be loaded up and cope well and overlap into cargo bikes.
“All City make steel bikes that push steel to the limit in terms of low weight and high performance,” said Stuart. “So if your customer wants to race road or cyclocross or wants a reasonably lightweight bike for an overnight trip, All City is the go-to brand. They use carbon forks, high level components and have amazing paint jobs – they’re a colourful brand!”
SCV only recently acquired Bombtrack, but it is already their biggest bike brand.
Stuart revealed, “We’ve doubled the number of Bombtrack dealers. The brand has a great following in Australia.
“Bombtrack is from a German company called We Make Things. They have a number of different products but it is really strong in the gravel sector. They hit the right price points and quality at the same time. They touch on the cargo sector as well.”
“We’ve done business with Soma for many years,” said Stuart. “They’re based in San Francisco. They mainly do framesets but also tyres, stems, posts and small accessories. Soma covers road, gravel and touring frames, all in steel.”
For more information about any of SCV’s products please visit www.scvimports.com.au or call (02) 4353 2633