Huffy Bikes takes on new Brand Manager
Bicycle marketer and manufacturer Huffy announced the appointment of industry veteran Reed Pike as its new brand manager, effective Wednesday, Nov. 18, according to Bicycle Retailer
Pike most recently worked for Raleigh America as director of marketing, a position that was eliminated in March. Prior his four-year stint at Raleigh, Pike briefly worked as an outside sales representative for Scott USA, and prior to that, he worked at Criterium Cycles in Colorado Springs.
His previous experience includes outside sales for Schwinn, marketing and quality management at Specialized, marketing at RockShox and specialty retail sales and industry consulting.
Pike will be working specifically on Huffy’s adult bicycle segment, which the company is investing heavily in during a difficult retail environment. Pike was brought on board along with additional resources in key product segments.
Headquartered in Centerville, Ohio, Huffy Corporation manufactures all-purpose and specialty bicycles, electric scooters and sports equipment.
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Smith
told DailyVista that Pike’s new role at Huffy
is focused on branding activity, but the subset is product management as well as product development
“We’re a fairly lean company, so people tend to wear a lot of hats,” he said. “The brand manager is a little bit more all-encompassing than, for example, a product manager. When we talk about a brand manager, it includes responsibilities for product development, product management and classical kinds of marketing activities like advertising, PR and promotions.”
Pike’s primary focus will be on the company’s adult bike category, which Smith said is principally the mountain bike and road bike segment. He added that the company has offered a full range of bikes prior to Pike’s addition to the team, but felt he’d be a nice fit for the adult bike division, which is an area where Huffy is beginning to see some “nice growth” and looking to capitalize and continue this progress.
“Our adult-sized bicycles tend to skew to teens, and also at the other end of the spectrum, I guess I would say moms, dads and retirees,” Smith said. “Then there’s a big middle ground of young adults – the enthusiast if you will – versus the recreational driver. That’s an area where we’re an underachiever, so we’re trying to develop that market. With Reed’s experience coming out of the independent bike dealer channel, we think he can help us with that.”
In a tough economic environment, Smith said that the adult bike category has seen better days, but on the upside, its kids bicycle segment continues to boom despite the downturn. Huffy maintains that parents might forego purchases for themselves, having no problem purchasing a new bike for their children, whether it’s a birthday or a Christmas gift.
“When we saw gas prices begin to rise in the $3+ range, there was clearly a grassroots interest developing in bicycling for commuting, but also more recreational bicycling,” Smith said. “Conversely, as the economy softened, that same level of interest in adult bikes seemed to soften as well, and I think it’s just people being more frugal and managing purchasing decisions, but we haven’t seen a similar kind of slowdown in the kids bikes area.”
Our source said that Huffy’s children’s bike category seems to be immune to economic conditions, but added that the company expects gas prices to swing upward. As such, Huffy wants to be poised for this development by implementing a broader, stronger product line and marketing activity – just one of the many reasons Pike was brought on board.
Huffy has historically utilized cable media for television ads, but as the company continues to move forward, Smith sees Huffy moving into more digital media.
“While we’re not participating today in social media, that’s something that we’re certainly considering, and with Reed’s background it might make sense for us, but we’re going to let him determine where we go with the social media,” he said. “Certainly as it relates to digital – by that I mean Web sites and micro-sites within our own site – we’re certainly spending a lot more activity and resources in that area than we have in the past and I’d expect we’d continue to allocate more dollars in that area as it becomes more viable for us.”
Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Brunner Digital currently serves as Huffy’s agency of record for its cable, television, digital and electronic media, Smith said.
According to The List database, Milwaukee, Wis.-based Laughlin / Constable Inc. has handled Huffy’s advertising, interactive and design efforts since 2003.
The Nielsen Company reported that Huffy spent about $800,000 on advertising in 2008. About $500,000 was spent on cable television ads, $300,000 was spent on network television ads and about $20,000 was spent on spot television ads.
Smith told DailyVista that any and all strategic partnership opportunities and/or external agency approaches are generally handled on a project-by-project basis at Huffy. He said that the company has done cross-promotions with various consumer brands before and is very active in the licensing area, but these are done on more of an as-needed, case-by-case basis. Smith said that he would prefer not to be inundated with proposals, so interested agencies may want to wait until Pike is on board and reach out directly to him to discuss your options.
6551 Centerville Business Parkway
Centerville, OH 45459
Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
(937) 865-2800 / x. 2837
Chief Executive Officer