Two of the strongest family-owned bike retailers in the country are joining forces today. After 39 years of independent ownership, Bike Gallery’s Jay Graves is retiring and passing the reigns to Mike Olson of San Diego, Calif.-based Trek Bicycle Superstore. Longtime Bike Gallery employee Kelly Aicher becomes a partner in the new company and will serve as general manager of the six Portland stores. All stores will continue operating under the Bike Gallery name. Meriwether Group, a Portland, Ore.-based business acceleration firm and trusted advisor, helped unite the two independent industry leaders who share a commitment to bike culture and outstanding customer service.
“This is good news for Portland’s bike community. Mike Olson created an amazing company founded on likeminded family values,” said Bike Gallery Founder Jay Graves. “I was 15 when my dad opened the first Bike Gallery in 1974, and I still believe that every day we have the opportunity to change someone’s life through cycling. I’m confident that Mike’s abilities as a leader combined with the energy, ideas and amplified passions of our two organizations will only strengthen the Bike Gallery brand.”
Companies Rooted in Cycling Community
Trek Bicycle Superstore and Bike Gallery share similar beginnings as family-owned businesses operating in tandem on the West Coast. Bike Gallery’s Graves built a 40-year career at the company he started with his father and two sisters, contributing to the strength of Oregon’s now nationally lauded bike culture. Although retiring from the commercial aspect of cycling, Jay will continue his advocacy work as a founding and current board member of Cycle Oregon, and vice chair of the Oregon State Parks Commission.
“Jay is such a respected leader in the industry. When he approached us to help him figure out his retirement strategy, we knew we needed the right match that would honor his dedication and passion for cycling, customer service and bike advocacy,” said Bill Nootenboom, a partner in the Meriwether Group. “Mike and longtime Bike Gallery employee Kelly Aicher share Jay’s vision for a vibrant bike community. They’re the perfect team to move the company forward.”
The Trek Bicycle Superstore was founded in 2003 by Mike Olson and his wife Colleen and operates four stores in San Diego, Calif., and another store in Albuquerque, N.M. With a philosophy that great pricing is a part of great customer service, the store quickly became the country’s number one Trek bicycle dealer and has evolved into a model for other bike shops. “We partner with Trek because they make great products and share our view of the bicycle being a simple solution to a lot of complicated problems, but we remain a local, privately owned bike shop,” said Olson.
“When I heard Jay was ready to retire, I knew this would be a perfect fit. Bike Gallery and the Portland bike community are cycling legends. You have to go to Amsterdam to find a more bike-friendly community,” said Olson. “I’m looking forward to building Bike Gallery’s reputation and evolving the brand to an even higher level. This partnership will empower Bike Gallery to compete with internet companies, while still offering the high-touch local service the stores are known for.”
New co-owner Kelly Aicher, who joined Bike Gallery in 1996, also worked for Trek Corporation during a career that has spanned more than 26 years in cycling. “I’ve been involved with cycling for most of my life, and part of the Bike Gallery family for over half of my career. Cycling is more than just a passion for me, it’s a core part of who I am,” said Aicher. “I’m proud of what we’ve built at Bike Gallery and honored to carry on Jay’s legacy. My partnership with Mike means we now have the resources to lead Bike Gallery into the future and expand Portland’s cycling reputation even further.”
Image courtesy Bike Gallery