VOL. 131 | NO. 41 | Friday, February 26, 2016
Italian Bike Maker Opens Binghampton Service Shop
By Madeline Faber
The professional biking world is looking to put Memphis on the map. Victory Bicycle Studio has been tapped to serve as the first U.S. service center for 3T, a Milan, Italy-based manufacturer of high-end bike components.
Clark Butcher, owner of Victory Bicycle Studio, and Dante Davis, a resident of Binghampton, served by Carpenter Art Garden.
But the ride isn’t stopping there as 3T is looking to position Memphis as its North American distribution hub with FedEx as the primary service provider for shipping.
“They’re moving this forward pretty quickly,” said Mandy Archer, market development account executive with FedEx Services. “They’re talking May for everything – for them to have a warehouse space, pricing set up, account numbers to be in place and begin taking orders in early summer.”
To start off, bike parts under warranty will be shipped to Victory, who will do repairs in-house. Victory owner Clark Butcher is looking to bring on one to two additional full-time employees to handle the volume and ramp up with three to four employees once a warehouse space is secured.
When 3T executives visited Memphis earlier this year, they circled around leasing a 6,000-square-foot warehouse just around the corner from Victory. The space could be expanded by another 6,000 square feet as Butcher brings more accounts on board.
The primary owner of 3T also owns many of the biggest cycling brands, and Butcher said he’s in discussions for his shop to do repairs and distribution for at least two other brands.
“If the parts are coming here for servicing, does it make more sense to do everything here?” Butcher said.
Currently, parts are distributed from 3T’s base in Milan.
3T manufactures components like wheels, handlebars and seats for five different best-in-class models.
“These are serious bicycles. They cost as much as a car,” Archer said. “I don’t know how many SKUs (stock keeping units) we’re talking about in total, but it could be substantial.”
Memphis’ affordable real estate, available workforce, central location and strength in logistics were all factors in 3T looking to move those operations to Memphis, Butcher said. But Victory first got on 3T’s radar because of its sales.
“Maybe they could understand it if we were Portland, Oregon, or Seattle or San Fran, but in Memphis it came across louder.”
The Binghamton neighborhood is poised to benefit from the new industry.
“It will be a significant economic impact not only from the perspective of new job creation and investment in facility, but just the reputation that neighborhood is getting,” said Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Memphis Chamber.
What has traditionally been seen as a socioeconomically depressed area has seen a boost in recent years from small businesses like Victory and community initiatives like the Carpenter Art Garden.
Herbison said 50 to 70 years ago Binghampton was a huge manufacturing and distribution center, leaving a ring of out-of-date industrial buildings.
“Any time we can bring back neighborhoods and facilities together that used to have this type of business, it really has the opportunity here to start replicating itself and transform the city quickly,” he said.