The Serotta Competition Bicycles plant on Geyser Road is for sale as owner Ben Serotta downsizes his internationally known high-end bicycle business.
The market for the expensive, hand-made bicycles has changed dramatically in the past four years. The price of Serotta’s precision rides ranges from just under $4,000 to as high as $24,000.
Serotta has reduced his staff significantly over the past year but hopes to start slowly bringing back his workers in the coming months.
“We are committed to stay in this,” Serotta said.
In 2008 Serotta had 42 employees, some of them working in Saratoga Springs and some working in a carbon fiber composite production facility in Poway, Calif, near San Diego. Now only a handful of people work at these locations.
At its peak, Serotta Competition Bicycles produced nearly 3,000 units a year. This year Serotta expects to produce between 700 and 750.
He said he won’t move out of his state-of-the-art bicycle plant at 41 Geyser Road until he sells the building. Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs has the listing. Serotta wants to relocate to a smaller site with lower overhead costs somewhere in Saratoga County.
Serotta bicycles are made with some of the most flexible, durable and expensive materials on Earth: titanium and carbon fiber tubing. They have been used in bicycle competitions around the world, including the Olympics and the Tour de France. The bikes have won numerous design awards.
Serotta started his bicycle sales career selling European 10-speed bikes out of his family’s hardware store in Saratoga Springs 39 years ago.
“It’s a very different time,” Serotta said.
Six years ago most of the high-end competition bicycles were made by relatively small companies, such as Serotta Competition Bicycles. But then the larger bicycle companies such as Trek, Cannondale and Giant, with plants in Asia, entered the same market.
“They went after the high end market with a vengeance,” Serotta said. The high-end bicycles were over-produced and ended up selling at prices consumers couldn’t resist.
“This is a time of very fierce competition,” he said. “It’s a limited market.”
“We can beat the best companies on quality and absolute performance but can’t compete on price,” he said.
Serotta said he should have made the decision to downsize the company three or four years ago, when he started to notice a change in buying and market trends.
“We need to survive to thrive,” Serotta said about his current philosophy.
In past years Serotta bicycles were sold through a long list of bicycle shops that had special Serotta bicycle fitting equipment to give the customer a personally tailored ride.
The number of shops that will carry and service Serotta bicycles will be reduced to about 20 across the United States, Serotta said. At the same time, the company will start offering the bicycles on line and directly from the factory but offering the same custom fitting and attention to detail.
He said the Serotta business model is being transformed from “a wholesale manufacturing business (with sales through authorized dealerships) to a consumer and direct and dealer hybrid.”
“There has been much speculation about the company being for sale or having been sold,” Serotta said on the company web site (www.serotta.com).
“In a way, every for profit business is always for sale,” he said. “Contrary to rumors, we have not been sold to a discount on-line sales company or anyone else.”
“We are very much in business,” he said. “Customers, current and future, needn’t be worried, we’ll be building your bicycles for a long time to come,” he said.
“The market is growing, there are more active adults cycling,” Serotta said.
He said the flip side to this demand for bicycles is that there is a tremendous amount of manufacturing capacity with much of the product being made overseas.
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