VERDI, NV (BRAIN)—Sinclair Imports has entered into a long-term agreement with Argon 18 to exclusively distribute the Montreal-based high-end road brand in the United States. Argon 18, established in 1989, previously sold direct to U.S. retailers.
“We’ve been negotiating with numerous bike brands including Argon 18 for a long time now,” said Lance Donnell, president and chief executive officer of the 23-year-old Nevada distributor.
Sinclair Imports was actively looking for a bike brand after its distribution deal with Ridley came to an end earlier this year. Sinclair’s Mike Taylor, who was the brand manager for Ridley, will now handle Argon 18. The brand’s 2009 road and tri bikes are available through Sinclair now.
Donnell has known Gervais Rioux, former Canadian road champion, ex-Olympian, founder and owner of the company, since the ‘80s during his racing days. “I raced against him in Nevada City in 1987. He attacked immediately and dropped me like a rock,” Donnell recalled.
“They have an incredible road line,” Donnell added. “Thus far, their biggest success has been in triathlon. That market is in the West. I see us developing the tri side of Argon 18 in the West and East. And then I see us getting much deeper penetration with the road side.” Argon 18’s E-114 triathlon/time-trial bike has won the company two design awards.
“We knew down the road that it was important for us to have a U.S. distributor,” said Marc-Andre Perron, sales manager for Argon 18. “We expect to grow because we only started putting energy into the U.S. market two years ago.”
Dealers stand to benefit from the deal with faster shipping times—particularly to the Western states, higher margins, better terms (up to Net 90 terms), better warranty service and deep inventory levels, Donnell said. Though shipping to the East Coast will still take a week, it’s still preferable to shipping across the Canadian border.
“Duty drawbacks with customs is fairly complicated and time consuming,” Donnell said. “We’ll be importing directly from the supplier so we will keep a deep stock and when they need deep stock, we can sell them stock. The proximity between Reno and Montreal will be nice to fill the holes.”
Donnell also said prices for 2010 Argon 18 bikes will not increase as a result of the deal and retailers will benefit from free freight from Sinclair.
Argon 18 is currently sold through 40 U.S. shops.
Photo: Left to right: Jim Mitchell, vice president and co-owner of Sinclair, Gervais Rioux, owner of Argon 18, and Lance Donnell, president and CEO of Sinclair.