Like any good idea bike-components had its origins in a pub. However, the founders and owners of the company, Klaus and Marcus, initially had something completely different in mind. Instead of opening an online shop for bicycle parts and accessories, they wanted to create a suspension seatpost unlike any other on the market.
The first design of the seatpost was drawn on the back of a beer coaster in the best Friedrich-Merz-manner. Optically sleek with adjustable suspension, the ball bearings and the invisible guides made the first design look as if it was just a normal seatpost. As if the research, development, and production were not enough, Klaus and Marcus agreed that the then present distribution channels were not sufficient. Although social consensus was sure that the "Internet" would not last, on that very night they decided to opt-in to online sales.
Normally, one takes these great ideas and pushes them aside the next morning, but in this case it changed from idea to reality. The next day on 26.11.1997 the business was registered and in 1998 the webshop went online. bike-components was born.
Klaus and Marcus’s shared apartment served as the company headquarters. When the first orders fluttered in, Klaus and Marcus had to scrape together all the money they had to make the purchases. At the time the orders were printed out and hung in the hallway. Each incoming part was checked off and stored in a vacant, previously unused room. Once an order was complete the parts were moved into Marcus’s room in order to manually compile the invoice with MS Word. After, the order was packed and ready for shipping. Each package was then labelled by hand and taken to the nearest parcel shop.
Customers could also pick up their merchandise in person. To this end, the customer rang the bell at the front door, submitted the order number over the house intercom and calmly waited in the entrance hall until Klaus or Marcus came running down to deliver the order. In this manner, the foundation for our store was laid in Aachen.
A company history that is marked by steady growth and success unfolded. Whereas in the first year all the invoices (both purchase and sale) fit in a single file, over time the demand steadily increased and the nights became longer. During season the normal working day always extended past midnight. In 2000, the shared apartment was literally bursting at the seams – items were all over the place, so that new premises for BC were required. In the meantime, more professional structures were established including the first business customer contract. This first contract was closed on the couch in the apartment living room with DHL that still today reliably delivers the majority of BC orders worldwide. In addition, in October 2001, the first two employees were hired: one to handle incoming goods and the other outgoing shipments.
In 2001, only a year after the warehouse at Orderpoint am Hirshgraben was opened, BC had to make another move because the warehouse was already over filled. With the offices at the Neupforte, the company found an environment that offered the additional space for necessary extensions. More and more adjoining shops were rented in order to cope with the increasing movement of goods. The side walk was a delight to local residents: it was the main artery of internal goods flow. The newly-leased outdoor warehouses were named after the previous tenants of the premises. The term "sushi" has such survived to this day as the designation for the replenishing warehouse.
The increased demand, in the meantime, called forth some practical problems. Both money as well as storage space were lacking for BC to have its own boxes. The highly acclaimed pragmatism of the company was put to the test. The central location of BC in relation to the city center proved to be an advantage. On account of the nearby shoe and wine shops, a wire trolley could be used to pick up unused boxes. For all the tourists and city trotters it was a sight to see a BC employee with the wire trolley rattling over the cobblestones of the Aachen market.
The following years were met with continued, and steady growth. The credo then, like today, was to offer excellent service at a fair price. Thus, the everyday problems of our cycling smitten customers were always treated with care and enthusiasm, regardless of whether someone ready to travel to India had lost their shoes on a drinking spree in Istanbul and need a pair quick, or someone wanted to return their Tacx Antares because "I lost my balance and rod against the cabinet and thereby sustained injuries." In response to our service a customer wrote: "…if you’re a beautiful woman, I love you! Kisses,…"In these moments we know we have been successful. The increasing orders from abroad proved to be a challenge for both our online translation tools as well as our service staff: "I dismiss (reference) your command (order) the XB…X, because the wheel Mavic Ksyrium SL that I got, has been made for intestines, whereas I wanted wheels for tires normally with tubes (…) Thank you for understanding…"
The good prices were on account of the fact that our purchase department always worked to ensure that we procured the best deals. For example, a supplier granted us a discount for orders over 300€ as well as a loaf of bread to complete the deal. Another granted us free shipping for an order amounting to more than 1 million euros.
Of course, a few glitches were experienced along the way. Be it an unproofed copy of a newsletter being sent out or in the event that we involuntarily called for respect between religions for the purpose of world understanding. Through all of this, however; customer satisfaction has always been in the foreground. Mistakes such as these are quickly and easily solved especially in the case of a customer who we wrote "as compensation here is an order of oil." His response: "I am 44 years old and I have dry skin, I will immediately rub myself with your oil." Responses like these tell us of our successes even after failure.
In 2010, after years of consistent growth, the biggest step in the development of the company was made when we relocated to a significantly larger facility. All structures and processes were re-analyzed, improved and professionalized. Especially in the field of logistics which accounts for our present short delivery times. Orders delivered within 24 hours of placement are no longer regarded as ground breaking, but instead are increasingly becoming the standard.
In online sales advances are always being made and in 2013 the new website design went live. Along with the website the logo and name mark description bike-components was redesigned.
Faster than we thought another expansion was made. By the end of 2014 BC had moved into a 10.000m² warehouse and a 3.000m² office space. Another goal achieved, but we always strive for more so again the logistics process was optimized because we know how long 24 hours is in the summer without a working bike.
bike-components employs people in the areas of customer service, purchasing, marketing, product data management, logistics, incoming goods acceptance, and outgoing goods shipment. Between the store and workshop we have more than 140 employees that provide for a smooth ordering process and short delivery times.
The first 15 years have been an experience. We look forward to many more years and would like to thank our suppliers, business partners, employees, and of course our customers for the great time. Working with you gives us an enormous amount of pleasure.
... and if time allows well get back to the suspension seatpost!!
Your bike-components Team
Creation by Klaus Hoenig and Marcus Wenkel
Opening of the first online shop
Storage in Hirschgraben
New business premises in Neupforte
Expansion of the Showroom
Extension of the storage at Neupforte
Enlargement of the garage
Further extension of the storage
Augmentation via additional storage
Starting point of building a new logistics centre
End of July: Opening of the new logistics centre
scheduled expansion of the salesroom
Repeated expansion through additional external warehouse
New logo and new design for the webshop