Cross Spikes Won’t Drive the Bottom Line

So, I finally did a cyclocross race again, and cross spikes are now top of mind. I didn’t encounter the expected mud bog  on Saturday because the Mansfield Hollow course was dry and sandy. However, elsewhere in the Northeast, it was a quagmire, especially yesterday. So, what does one do? They call Horst Engineering for a set of precision machined aerospace quality stainless steel toe spikes for their cyclocross/mountain bike shoes.

Horst Spikes 

Horst Engineering is a contract manufacturer, otherwise known as a job shop. The business is high tech, but the design of products are handled by our customers. We produce what they design. Plain and simple, well sort of. At Horst Engineering, the manufacturing processes need to be designed, and they are pretty complicated; but the branding and sales of the product to the end users are handled by our customers.

So, back to cross spikes. This is one of the products that we do sell to consumers. They are called Horst Spikes and they are popular in these parts at this time of year. We made our first batch in 2008 and we are still selling from inventory. We don’t sell direct because we aren’t set up to take credit cards and we don’t offer any other cycling products. We sell to distributors, like They are good at what they do and we are good at what we do, so it is a good partnership.

We aren’t going to build a new factory with the revenues generated from cross spikes. My rough calculations suggest that we would have to sell 645,161 sets (four in a set) at the wholesale price before we ever consider a plant expansion. That has to be decades of sales, though there hasn’t been a significant market study done by the folks at Harvard, Wharton, or Kellogg. I could be proved wrong by the bean (or spike) counters. I’m just going on a hunch here since we restocked our main distributor with 30 sets last week. That should last him a while, unless this post triggers a rush on the global stock of this product.

I got an e-mail from a New York City crosser this morning who was pleased to discover us on the Internet. He was still cleaning the mud out of his ears after a weekend of crossing in hellish conditions. He went on to surmise that “…cross spikes won’t drive the bottom line at Horst Engineering…” but he thanked us and said that it is cool that we are giving back to the sport. Well, that is pretty cool. Another happy customer! Harry Livingston, our founder invented a lot of stuff in his day, but he was better at making stuff (high quality stuff) for high tech customers. We didn’t invent cross spikes, but we aren’t ashamed to say that ours are the best. Who else makes cross spikes with precision roll formed threads? Did you know that the tensile  and fatigue strength of rolled threads is 30% greater than cut or ground threads? You can learn lots of cool business lessons when you design, market, manufacture, and sell your own products. Do yourself a favor, pick up a set of Horst Spikes, whether you cross or not!

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Cross Spikes™


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