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Blacklist Distribution starting small but thinking big in navigating turbulent supply chain

Published October 14, 2021

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — As a small Tampa, Florida, shop that opened a year ago, Blacklist Bike and Action Sports quickly understood how a tightening supply chain could affect other similar shops.

Owner Steven Caro decided to think big and do something about it: create a distribution company around three small brands. And Blacklist Distribution was born, featuring brands Funn MTB, Granite Design, and SCg Shoe Co.

"Having the retail shop, you hear the customers' problems," said Matt Desormeaux, Blacklist mechanic who accompanied Caro to the Sea Otter Classic last week to spread the word about the distributorship and its brands. "'I can't find this, I can't find that.'"

Desormeaux said product availability is not a problem with Funn MTB and Granite Design. "That led us to distributing Funn and Granite. They have products available and that helps us on the retail front, so why can't we help other shops that have this same problem?"

Three shops, two in Florida and one in New Jersey, are part of Blacklist distribution so far. Its 3,200-square-foot warehouse is located in Tampa. Part of the reason for attending Sea Otter was to spread the word.

"We are small-shop focused, and this is Stop 1," said Caro, who started SCg Shoe Co. in 1999. "We have inventory. And the way Funn does their production, we put orders in and they'll fill them. It's not that whole pre-book, and wait a year or two. Our message here is we have inventory. We can get inventory for you and your shop, and we don't have those long lag times that are plaguing the industry. We're more like a speedboat that can navigate a little faster, a little tighter."

Funn MTB offers components from pedals to goggles, while Granite Designs features accessories from bottle cages to multitools. SCg Shoe Co. carries BMX and mountain bike shoes, manufactured in Bogata. A couple years ago, Funn contacted Andrew Burke, Blacklist West Coast sales representative, about shoes to test Funn pedals, and that led to a relationship that grew a distributorship.

"That was the initial spark" with Funn, Burke said. "Great brand, great quality, and a great price point."

Caro has felt the supply-chain strain first-hand operating SCg Shoe Co. He said the brand is five months behind in production but working hard to shorten it. "The industry standard seems to be 12 to 24 months behind. We've had to re-evaluate how we purchase our materials."

Because of production delays, Caro has started manufacturing small items, like shoe cleat bases, with its own tooling in-house in Bogota. That has led to Blacklist creating its own in-house branded brake pads also in Bogota, Colombia. The goal is to add headsets and bottom brackets in the future, Caro said.

"With availability, not everybody has $50,000 to prebook a big Shimano order and let stuff trickle in," Caro said. "So along those lines, working with Funn and Granite is easy with the way they do production, we can feed them orders and they're supplying us with parts, and we're working on some of our own house-branded stuff through Blacklist."

Topics associated with this article: Sea Otter Classic

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