Last night was the New England Builder’s Ball at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The event was a celebration of bicycle framebuilders and an exhibition of their work. It was in partnership with this weekend’s KMC Cyclocross Festival and benefited the East Coast Greenway Alliance.
Horst Engineering and Team Horst Sports were thrilled to have a booth to display and share our Horst Spikes product line. Special thanks to Arthur Roti, Max Accaputo, and Trent Sullivan who manned the booth with me for the four-hour event. The botanical center was a really cool venue that was made all the better by the amazing collection of bespoke bicycle builders.
We were in the company of some talented craftsman. The good news is that we may not make bicycles, but our Horst Spikes AND our precision machined aerospace components are every bit as cool as what we saw at the show. Of course, I’m biased, but coming off of Family Day 2014 last weekend, and MFGDAY (yesterday), I’m pretty high on our manufacturing capabilities.
Horst Spikes is an idea that we hatched in 2007. We recognized that the commercially available cyclocross shoe toe spikes were inferior to what we could produce. Since our roots are in bicycles, we designed a fresh take on the product, which developed into our large spikes. For several years, we only sold them to teammates, friends, and family. Then, we started selling a handful through select distributors, including www.cyclocrossworld.com.
For the past few years, we talked about a direct marketing campaign to raise awareness of the product. This year, we finally took up that challenge and also set up a website to sell online. The direct to consumer marketing has been a lot of fun. We have learned a lot with this project and are excited about the prospects of doing more work in the bicycle industry.
Like I said, Horst Engineering has a long history of supplying the bicycle products industry. Company founder, Harry Livingston (born Horst Rolf Liebenstein), apprenticed as a bicycle maker in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He learned many of his skills working in the bicycle trade. He brought those skills to the USA, when he immigrated in 1938, and subsequently when he founded our family business in 1946.
Horst Spikes is proud to support an incredible line up of elite cyclocross racers. We had a chance to connect with several of them last night at the Ball. These riders are testing the spikes in all conditions and providing valuable feedback on the product design. Spikes may not be as complex as our aerospace components, but they they have that cool factor.
Our lineup of sponsored riders includes: Jeremy Powers, Mo Bruno-Roy, Justin Lindine, Cassie Maximenko, Adam Myerson, and the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com Team. We will announce more sponsored riders throughout the season.
At the ball, we had a chance to see Jeremy and Cassie. Both are fantastic riders. Jeremy is the reigning U.S. Cyclocross Champion, and hails from Niantic, Connecticut; so he is one of us. We are excited to get his feedback on the toe spikes. It was nice of he and his spouse, Emily, to visit with us, and we look forward to getting them to visit Horst Engineering for a plant tour and group ride. Cassie is one of the fastest improving elite woman riders in the country. She is also a Connecticut native and along with her spouse, Michael, has made her mark on the cycling and triathlon race scene here in New England.
We saw a lot of friends from the cycling community. My longtime friend, Jon Gallagher, stopped by to visit with us. Jon and I spent the summer of 1994 racing the kermesse circuit in Belgium, both attended Boston College, and have raced all over the northeast together. Jon lives in Utah, but got back east because he is the official timer of the KMC Cyclocross Festival. Jon is the propietor of Sports Base Events and One 2 Go Event Services. He travels the world doing the timing at many top cycling events. Ted King also paid a visit to our booth. We saw Ted at last week’s Vermont 50, and is another one of New England’s top riders. His focus is on the road, though he gets on the mountain bike from time to time, like he did the last week. Ted is a true ambassador for New England cycling and spends most of the year racing on the European road circuit.
It was also nice to catch up with Richard Sachs and his spouse, Deb. Debbie and I used to visit with Richie and Deb at their home/shop in Chester, Connecticut when they lived nearby, but we haven’t seen them as much since they relocated to Massachusetts. We occasionally see them at the cross races and it was nice that the Sachs and Horst booths were near each other last night. I’m proud to have my original 1989 Richard Sachs frameset hanging in my office.
Seeing all the amazing bicycles and accessories in Providence last night was an awesome reminder that New England is home to many amazing craftsmen and crafts-women. We are happy to be part of the bunch.