MAKING CHAMPION WHEELS TURN: 3T’S SUCCESS STORY
Rene Wiertz is the CEO and the hero of 3T Cycling, a high-end bike manufacturer with a rich heritage dating back to 1961. Rene acquired the company in 2007 and successfully revived this Italian brand by investing in advanced design and engineering for the era of carbon-fiber. 3T is now manufacturing its own world-class road bikes while continuously enhancing its high-tech, lightweight componentry. Being part of Beeleev‘s Community, he agreed to share his succes story with us…
3T was founded in Torino, Italy in 1961. The brand was reputable for its polished-alloy racing handlebars, stems and seatposts which were elegant in looks, light weight and perfectly fitted. By 1986, 3T became the world leader in quality handlebar manufacture, exporting 80% of its production to Europe, the United States, and Japan.
However, 3T was then merged into Gruppo in 2000 to better compete with rising players from Germany, Japan and the US. It was only until 7 years later that Rene Wiertz, who was then Corporate M&A Vice President with 12 years of experience at Phillips, decided to buy back the brand and rebuild it from scratch.
3T has been growing exponentially ever since. The company won the Tour de France in 2008 and Giro d’Italia in 2012, opened Taiwan office and created distinct identities for Road and Mountain product ranges in 2013. In an interview with Spin Asia in 2015, Rene proudly stated: “I think 4 to 5 years ago there was no athlete who wanted to ride on a mountain bike bar from 3T. Today we are there.”
We asked him “How?” and his response was:“There is no magical recipe to make your enterprise grow but: hard work, hard work and hard work!” In the case of 3T, René follows a precise strategy:
- Clear value proposition: High end product with superb quality so that consumers understand immediately the good-better-best pricing approach
- Strong focus on marketing
- Active sales approach as a global company
- Selective recruitment: Look for people with passion for bikes and adequate professional background. Rene strongly recommended to hire slowly and fire quickly: “We lost quite some money hiring the wrong people. So it’s better having no one than the wrong one.”
With headquarter in Italy and production in Asia, 3T is operating on a simple yet effective and highly-scalable business model. “It is very easy to complexify your business, thinking you’ll save some money. However, complexity is a very costly issue that is often under estimated.”, Rene recalled. The decision to establish an office in Taiwan in 2013 allowed 3T to closely monitor its factories in Asia. While the Italy office is in charge of marketing, sales and product design; the Taiwan office takes care of supply chain management and quality control. For the year 2016, 3T opened its third office in US of purely sales function to work directly with dealers.
To operate on international scale is not an easy task: “It’s urgent to get people with operational skills and organized in nature on board. An entrepreneur is driven by opportunities and creativity, but he also needs team support. Start by defining your values clearly, then hire for values. And most of all, stick to these values to ensure a consistent approach of your company to the market.”