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Thread: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

  1. #1
    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    bill here from Serotta.

    I could no longer comment on a close thread but there was the following question: "I did not look at the spec. on the Serotta tubing just yet. It is common practice to not put holes into some Ti tubing in specific locations. They may have a very legit reason for this. Blink. Let's hear from the big boss is that is the case?"

    So, I think the question is in a recent Ben blog why did he say we do not put holes in our Ti SG and SE frames for internal routing of Di2 cables. I spent time with Ben thinking that I could learn enough to offer up a reasonably intelligent response to the forum. Ben's explanation was way above my pay grade and so I will demur to him.

    I have asked him to put this on his list of topics he will address through his blog. I am sorry I was not able to do so myself but I think, after listening to him for a long time, you will much rather want to hear from him and not me.

    Thanks.

    ride hard, be well, have fun.
    bill
    518-584-8100x313
    bill.watkins@serotta.com
    RustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life GuideRustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life Guide
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
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    Roman's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Thanks, Bill-

    What is Ben Serotta's relationship with Serotta now?

    Best

    Vince

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    zetroc is online now VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Thanks Bill, I'll look for that one. Hope everything is well up your way.

    steve
    steve cortez

    FNG

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    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Ben and I are working alongside each other (literally) at Serotta although we each have chosen different ways to contribute to the company. I am the behind-the-scenes guy charged with making sure the company runs well and moves forward. I need to make sure that Serotta is running well enough so that Ben can focus on what Ben does best: design, engineer and build the best road bikes on the planet. So, first and foremost, Ben is the innovation guy who will guide us towards new product directions just as he has in the past. Secondly, Ben is the keeper of the brand essence - the Serotta visionary - who will guide the Serotta brand to what and where it should be. You will see Ben out in the cycling community much more than in the past (no need to go over what has been going on up here - all of you already know); he likes to ride (we ride at noon everyday), likes to gather information from cyclists and the cycling industry and with his over 40+ years of experience, has much to personally share. Finallyy, since 1972, Ben has been driven by bettering the sport of cycling - especially American cycling - and he has not lost that passion.

    Now, with all of the above said, full disclosure here: I am, in essence, speaking for Ben. That could be good or not so good....so, while Ben and I talk and share alot and think I know what he might say if asked this question, he may decided to personally weigh in and correct me on something or add something further!

    ride hard, be well, have fun.
    bill
    518-584-8100x313
    bill.watkins@serotta.com
    RustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life GuideRustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life Guide
    P.S. In the Saratoga Springs area? Come ride with us!


    Quote Originally Posted by Roman View Post
    Thanks, Bill-

    What is Ben Serotta's relationship with Serotta now?

    Best

    Vince
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
    404-242-5966
    rustylion54@gmail.com

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    Too Tall's Avatar
    Too Tall is offline VelocipedeSalon.1
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    That was me Bill. Thanks for the followup.

    What's the skinny at Serotta regaring new directions? I'm really curious if Serotta will keep their current process for taking custom orders. Any thoughts?

    Also, consider this a formal request to attend Ballers Ride > BallersRide May 24 to May 26, 2013 I'd like you to give a little talk and do the ride natch.

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    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Hey TooTall,

    bill here from serotta. just want to try to address your question, TooTall.

    Aaaaahhh, the "skinny"....

    Well, in direct answer to your question, yes, we will continue to build customized/personalized bikes. It was not long ago when I was looking at Serotta from the outside like you. I have only been on the so-called inside for a few months. But, what I have learned has convinced me (an engineer and competitive cyclist) that one of our sweet spots is combining our design/engineer know-how, forty+ years of experience and 100% vertical USA-based manufacturing in order to produce the finest high-peformance and personalized bikes. You will see that direction continue.

    More than that, it is too early to tell you directional specifics because I am too new on the ground and there is quite a bit of momentum built up here to change too quickly. I tell people we are an aircraft carrier, not a jet ski. But, one thing that will continue will be one of the foundational principles Ben built the Serotta company and brand from: we will be an authentic, genuine brand who chooses design integrity and precision manufacturing over marketing and sales...sometimes to our detreiment. Ben is adamant that every bike and every development has to have a valid reason for its existence over and above its ability to be marketed, sold and make money. Serotta - to its credit - chooses to be the best rather than be the first or the loudest, a strategy although honorable that hasn’t always been the best for sales. Right or wrong, Serotta would rather set the bar than set the trend - Serotta pursues “better” rather than “more.”

    In Serotta’s heyday, Serotta’s innovative design, meticulous engineering, handcrafted quality and precision performance spoke for themselves. The giant brands have shown that now sophisticated marketing drives sales...Serotta has proven to be a poor marketer and as I hear from many of you publicly and privately, Serotta has fallen behind. Yes, we can get much better at telling our story (and backstory) but will always be genuine and authentic. You will probably never see us able to present ourselves with the sophitication of other bigger brands but surely we can do better than we have in the recent past. This is a change you will see as we are able to unfold our go-forward strategy.

    In rading this post, I think this might sound like some sort of "advertisement" which I have written earlier on that I am cautious about doing on this forum. I enjoy the opportunity to be bill the cycling enthusiast; as Serotta CEO, I would rather speak softly here (and everywhere) but then, execute forcefully, letting our actions speak for ourselves. But, in this case, I only verbalize something all of you have probably already known and then, offer up this component of our DNA that if you really think about it and analyze what you have seen from Serotta in the last couple of years, we have been very consistent in following. Serotta the company has not deviated much, if at all, from the foundational principles that Serotta the man lived by when he first began designing/engineering/building bikes back in the early 70's.

    Some of you think we are DOA and adhereing to these principles have no place in today's marketplace. While doing so is a challenge, I respectfully contend you are wrong on both counts.

    Over time, let's see what happens but I am going to bet on this horse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    That was me Bill. Thanks for the followup.

    What's the skinny at Serotta regaring new directions? I'm really curious if Serotta will keep their current process for taking custom orders. Any thoughts?

    Also, consider this a formal request to attend Ballers Ride > BallersRide May 24 to May 26, 2013 I'd like you to give a little talk and do the ride natch.
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
    404-242-5966
    rustylion54@gmail.com

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    wcu's Avatar
    wcu
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    A lot there about what "was".

    I think the old expression, "what have you done for me lately" is pehaps more important now.

    BEST was a long time ago now, and more accurate would be, one of the best. I for one will be very surprised if you can
    get back into the "would you consider us" category, but as you say, time will tell.

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    brucew's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Quote Originally Posted by rustylion View Post
    I tell people we are an aircraft carrier, not a jet ski.
    And that, right there, is your downfall.

    First, Serotta isn't a big enough company to be a aircraft carrier. Trek, Specialized, Giant? Those are aircraft carriers. Serotta? A mere speck by comparison. Maybe one of those pontoon party boats.

    And yet, those aircraft carriers remain innovative and agile in today's "new economy".

    Innovation and agility coupled with quality and marketing are what make a successful company in the 21st century. (And not so strangely, those are the same things that attract the capital needed to "execute forcefully".)

    I hear in your statements only about quality as a current strength. Innovation is used in the past tense. By bragging you're an aircraft carrier, you seem proud of the fact you have no agility. And marketing is something you hope Santa Claus will bring.

    That's not a good recipe for any business these days.

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    suspectdevice's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    race or die.
    mickey.denoncourt
    www.spookybikes.com
    instagram

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    echelon_john is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    BruceW makes good points. What's keeping you from being a jet ski? I've maintained for several years that the real problem is that Serotta is trapped in the no mans' land between being a frame builder and being a bike manufacturer. It worked--kind of--in a boom economy when road bike sales enjoyed a sharp increase in sales during he who won't be named's Tour run, then when the wind changed there was a kind of tone deafness around price/value proposition that put the company on the road to where it is today. Do you really have a current production demand (and associated revenue that's servicing your debt/overhead) that's keeping you from making radical, fast changes? Because other than current demand/obligations, what's keeping you from moving as quickly as you please? What kind of 'momentum' are you up against?

    You used the term 'setting the bar.' I think an important question you need to consider is: Are you setting the bar in ways/for reasons that customers can understand and value? It doesn't seem so. Vertical integration is cool, and gives additional control and potential cost advantages (if done well) but do customers care? Do they buy Serotta because you swage tubing in house? Nope. Not your current customer demographic. Do they care that you own your own carbon facility? Nope. Do they care you make your own dropouts and have a really cool CNC mill that can carve out a carbon BB shell blank for multiple geometries? Heck no. So the real leap that must be made is to align the way that you define excellence with the way your potential customers do. Serotta has been notoriously unable to do this, and the current missive still feels like this isn't a priority/capability.

    A few questions that have been asked over the years merit real consideration:
    - Why ON EARTH doesn't Serotta sell aftermarket carbon forks? If you have excellent carbon production capabilities, believe your forks to be best-in-class, and have capacity (it doesn't seem possible your carbon facility could possibly have cash flow positive utilization at this point), why not put them out in the marketplace? Put them in a web store, put them on Etsy for goodness' sake, but put them out there? There's real space in the market there, and it's a space where control/quality could actually move the needle. Why not?

    - What does Serotta do to justify pricing that's anywhere from 1.5x to 4x+ competitive pricing? In 30 seconds or less? In aspects that customers can actually understand and appreciate, and are based on Serotta TODAY, not history? I'm not talking about "marketing messaging." That comes later. If you can't, even as a brand new CEO, articulate this, then it's hard to see how you move forward. Pronto and Fondo are fine, and a good step, but when you blithely talk (even jokingly) about a $25k bike, the reaction is more likely rolled eyes than 'wow.'

    - What does Ben want? I've seen his role discussed in the language of business obfuscation, like "focusing on innovation" and "ensuring we execute on the vision," etc. Does he even want to build bike frames? What excites him? How are you utilizing his skills to save his company this week? I have to believe that Ben isn't interested in actually making bike frames (on a small, hands-on scale), either because the economics of it won't work given his personal financial needs at this point in his life, or because he was never really interested in being the guy getting his hands dirty. No shame in that; but obviously management wasn't a particular strength of his either. And being the 'ideas' guy in a manufacturing setting is a luxury that only scale can afford.

    I applaud your willingness to participate in the forums; it's certainly more engagement than the company has shown in my memory.

    With respect,
    John Cully





    Quote Originally Posted by rustylion View Post
    Right or wrong, Serotta would rather set the bar than set the trend - Serotta pursues “better” rather than “more.”

  11. #11
    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    I'm going to wager Bill ment this as a allusion to steady-stays-the-course vs HUGE.

    Bill you did not answer the most important question. What are you riding at Ballers?

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    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Hey Bruce,

    I hope I did not mis-speak. There was no bragging about being an aircraft carrier...it was more lament.

    Our not being as agile, responsive and fast-moving as I would like (or should be in today's "new economy") is a result of many, many factors and a long timeline. My reference to an "aircraft carrier" is pointing out what you, Bruce, and many others point out to me everyday: it is going to take lots of work and a long timeline to change perception in the marketplace and even then, not many companies have been able to do what we are saying we will do. I am not smart enough or have enough experience, I suppose, to think of the one magical thing we can do that will begin back customers. Noone else has pointed that same single magical thing out to me either. So, my intution and experience tell me it is a day-to-day effort of execution, consistency and communication that might positively one customer at a time.

    Bruce, you may be right. Or, you may be wrong. I, for one, am willing to stake my professional reputation and next career step on Serotta. I'm here on the ground and committed to our plan. I am fully aware of some (probably not all) the challenges ahead and accept the risks. Let's see what we can do.

    Good thread. Thanks for your insights and comments. I do always appreciate and value them.

    ride hard, be well, have fun.
    bill
    518-584-8100x313
    bill@serotta.com

    Quote Originally Posted by brucew View Post
    And that, right there, is your downfall.

    First, Serotta isn't a big enough company to be a aircraft carrier. Trek, Specialized, Giant? Those are aircraft carriers. Serotta? A mere speck by comparison. Maybe one of those pontoon party boats.

    And yet, those aircraft carriers remain innovative and agile in today's "new economy".

    Innovation and agility coupled with quality and marketing are what make a successful company in the 21st century. (And not so strangely, those are the same things that attract the capital needed to "execute forcefully".)

    I hear in your statements only about quality as a current strength. Innovation is used in the past tense. By bragging you're an aircraft carrier, you seem proud of the fact you have no agility. And marketing is something you hope Santa Claus will bring.

    That's not a good recipe for any business these days.
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
    404-242-5966
    rustylion54@gmail.com

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    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    My go-to bike at the moment is a MeiVici SE with SRAM Red. I was riding/racing a Legend SE prior to the MeiVici.

    I bought my Meivici in early 2011 and rode/raced it all the way to the National Championship podium.

    Unless I am able to afford a new bike before Ballers, you will see me on it!

    ride hard, be well, have fun.
    bill
    518-584-8100x313
    bill.watkins@serotta.com
    RustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life GuideRustyLion.com | by Bill Watkins, Life Guide
    P.S. In the Saratoga Springs area? Come ride with us!
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
    404-242-5966
    rustylion54@gmail.com

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    e-RICHIE's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Quote Originally Posted by rustylion View Post
    Ballers,
    It's a date.
    See you there atmo.

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    palincss is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    Quote Originally Posted by rustylion View Post
    My go-to bike at the moment is a MeiVici SE with SRAM Red. I was riding/racing a Legend SE prior to the MeiVici.

    I bought my Meivici in early 2011 and rode/raced it all the way to the National Championship podium.

    Unless I am able to afford a new bike before Ballers, you will see me on it!
    Late last year, Too Tall described the 2012 Ballers Ride thusly:
    New for 2012 will be a 100 mile version of last years MONSTER ride. Both rides will be a D2R2 style course, full of dirt roads and lots of climbing (and descending!). Sunday will have an adventure ride in the morning followed by an CX clinic and a CX event. Also, we will have CX throwdowns where riders are picked to race one hot lap winner take all. Prizes and ridicule are assured.
    Are you sure a Meivici is the right bike for a course like that?

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    thollandpe's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by palincss
    Are you sure a Meivici is the right bike for a course like that?
    Bill's palmares makes it the right bike. Darren See Tee rode a Crumpton cupcake w/ slightly chubby road tires, just fine. The only wrong bike is the one not ridden.

    But dang I better back off the baked goods, not much daylight between now and next May.

  17. #17
    rustylion is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    You might be asking if anyone is in there....my head that is.

    Uuuuummmm. No - now that I have properly researched what I committed to (Ballers Ride) - my fav MeiVici is definitely the wrong bike.

    Don't own a mountain or cross bike....yet, I guess. But, still intend to try to make the ride. Should be fun to see me face plant on the dirt...

    Thanks for pointing out the err in my steed selection.

    Quote Originally Posted by palincss View Post
    Late last year, Too Tall described the 2012 Ballers Ride thusly:


    Are you sure a Meivici is the right bike for a course like that?
    ride hard. be well. have fun.
    bill (aka rustylion)
    404-242-5966
    rustylion54@gmail.com

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    Human Epic Jolt is offline One of a kind Vsalonista
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    proper old mans bike is what you need.
    from how i read the event written about.

  19. #19
    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    TeeeeeAch, glad you said it first. Your a$$ is huge. Eat more ok?

    Bill, CX bikes are fine if that's all you got. Road bikes with 28's are the best weapon. Last yr. for instance, I rode a Ti IF S&S DI2 bike with Rolly Polly tires and it was fine. This yr. I'll ride the same bike and ditch the gawd awful clinchers.

    Back on topic (aheem). OK, I get it there will never be another CSI. My heart sinks a little but will get past that. You say that steady, even handed marketing will slowly bring Serotta back to relevancy. If I've missed the mark please let me know.

    You are the face of Serotta and from where I stand a real affable fellah who can ride a bike. That alone will get you free beers and a invite to the VIP club however it is not a prescription for new revenue and winning back the market Serotta brand lost over the recent past.

    Where in your opinion are the opportunities and what's your next move man?

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    Heavyeight's Avatar
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    Default Re: You asked to hear from the big "Serotta" boss

    I'd love the talks to move from business plans to more FNL pics. Or just more weldy-weldy, less talky-talky.

    The poor brand has been hashed, rehashed, lamented, and beaten down.

    Give us sneak peeks and build bikes.
    Jason E

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