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New Easton cycling owner promises more entrepreneurial approach

Published April 23, 2014
Chris Tutton

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Chris Tutton, the new owner of the Easton cycling business, says that under his ownership the brand will get back to its roots as a scrappy, entrepreneurial business. And Tutton, who also owns Race Face, said each brand will continue to pursue OE and aftermarket sales and share expertise in their strongest product areas.

BRG Sports (formerly Easton-Bell Sports) announced Monday that it had sold the Easton cycling business to Tutton, who from his base in British Columbia has represented Easton to worldwide OE customers for several years as an independent sales rep, in addition to his Race Face responsibilities. The sales price was not disclosed and Tutton declined to say how the deal was financed.

"Working inside a very large business like BRG is sometimes challenging when you are pretty small guy like Easton inside that group," Tutton told BRAIN.

"Moving forward the specific focus is going to be around Easton and Easton only. You are going to see it go back to a more entrepreneurial kind of business. You are going to see a change in product and direction and you'll probably see things happen pretty quickly."

"I wouldn't be shocked to see an Easton carbon road crank (or) a carbon Race Face wheel." — Chris Tutton

Tutton said about 40 employees, in the U.S. and Asia, who worked in the Easton cycling division of BRG will be switching over to work for him. That's just about all of Bell's employees who worked on Easton cycling, with the exception of two marketing employees who will remain with BRG, joining the Giro marketing team.

Tutton will be setting up a California facility to do customer service and other functions. Marketing will be done from British Columbia, while most manufacturing is done in Asia at contracted factories. Tutton is acquiring tooling from BRG to manufacture Easton components.

Tutton emphasized that Race Face and Easton cycling are separate entities; Race Face did not acquire Easton, Tutton did. But as the majority shareholder in each brand, Tutton can assess where the brands can complement or supplement each other. He said neither brand was likely to exit any product categories because of the other. Instead, he envisions them sharing knowledge.

"(Race Face) has a pretty big background in drivetrain, and Easton has a pretty big background in wheels — so I think it's safe to say you are going to see both companies delving into each area. I wouldn't be shocked to see an Easton carbon road crank and it probably would not be that shocking to see a carbon Race Face wheel in the future."

The only product category where each brand currently overlaps is in mountain bike cockpit components. Tutton said neither brand would pull back from that category.

Tutton said Race Face and Easton currently have the same distributors in several international markets. He said that over the next few months Easton would assess each market to see where it makes sense to change its distribution.

Topics associated with this article: Mergers/Acquisitions

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