170: Rob DeMartini, ceo of usa cycling offers insight into the long-term strategy of the organization

”…I see us [USA Cycling] being able to play a much bigger role from the center. We have a new brand position that Matt Heitmann is going to be launching here soon called We Champion Cycling. And the idea is those words are picked very carefully because we are champions in this country. But the bigger idea is that everybody can be a champion, whether you’re just getting on a bike, whether you’re riding with your family, whether you’re competing in a local event, or whether you’re competing at an elite level.”

– Ron DeMartini

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Rob DeMartini, CEO of USA Cycling since 2019 offers listeners a clear picture of the organization’s long-term strategy and plans for the future
  • With the recent shift to free youth memberships, USA Cycling isn’t dwelling on the past, but planning for the future of cycling and adapting a mission-driven mentality
  • Hear how the vision of USA Cycling is shifting to include a different kind of member;  a member that is excited to be a part of USA Cycling and wears it with a sense of pride.

EPISODE PREVIEW:

In the cycling world, it’s no secret that there are strong opinions about USA Cycling. What I have always believed in life and in business is that what’s happened in the past, does not dictate our future, which is why I was eager to interview Rob DeMartini, CEO of USA Cycling. Rob is a newer leader to USA Cycling, joining the organization in 2019 and came to the organization from outside of the fishbowl, but with a background working with a number of outdoor brands. He’s incredibly fluent with “our people” in the Channel Mastery community and offers a vision that will be extremely beneficial to the future of both USA Cycling and cycling as a whole. 

We’ve talked about the monumental growth of the cycling industry in 2020 through 2021 and the importance of not only catching and collecting newcomers to the sport but keeping them. Rob shares the long-term vision and strategy for USA Cycling, including offering free youth programming and the importance of doing so for the future of the sport. 

He also shares how the organization is putting “compliance” in the rear view mirror and steering toward a mission-driven mentality for the future. This is a must-listen to episode for our Channel Mastery cycling enthusiasts, but also for anyone interested in hearing how an organization can make strides to become a more inclusive, receptive to feedback and open to change.

GUEST PROFILES:

Rob DeMartini

Rob joined USA Cycling in February 2019, bringing with him extensive knowledge and experience from a diverse background as well as strong business-building experience across various industries. A passionate athlete and cycling enthusiast, Rob was drawn to the opportunity to lead USA Cycling after recognizing the potential for the organization to take on a larger leadership role in the cycling industry.

Rob came to USA Cycling after spending 12 years as President and CEO of New Balance where under his leadership, New Balance doubled its global annual sales to reach $4.2B and achieved one of the highest growth rates in the athletic footwear and apparel industry. Prior to joining New Balance, his career at Procter & Gamble spanned 20 years, beginning in their Food & Beverage Division and including management roles with the Gillette Company, North American Snacks, and Millstone Coffee.

Rob is the past Chairman of The American Apparel & Footwear Association and is a former board member of The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, a nonprofit spinoff from MIT, focused on accelerating innovation in the apparel industry. He is also a current board member of Welch Foods, a Farmer Owned Cooperative and former board member of Aloha Foods.Rob earned his B.S. in Finance from San Diego State University. Rob, along with his son and daughter-in-law owns Park City Bike & Demo Bike Shop, and resides with his wife in Park City, Utah.

TOPICS COVERED:

USA Cycling, USA Cycling growth, newcomers to cycling, change in organizations, mission-driven future in cycling, youth cycling, developing professional cyclists, we champion cycling, Matt Heitman 

SELECT QUOTES:

“So we’ve chronicled our, our collective learning in the, in the biking market and realize that there’s a lot of undeveloped brand value that can be harnessed from these world tour teams. And, you know, I think at the root of it, the fundamental, you know, world tour team model, it doesn’t work very well. And so we got to figure out a way to get brands, more value in teams, more money if they’re going to compete in this very complex, very expensive sport.”

“…I think the sport’s got to figure out how to make these athletes, how to humanize them, kind of make them relatable. Yes, they are freakishly talented and unbelievably committed, and most of us are never going to get anywhere near that, but we still want to know they just love riding bikes and not enough of that comes through, in my opinion, in some of the world tour racing.”

”…I see us [USA Cycling] being able to play a much bigger role from the center. We have a new brand position that Matt Heitmann is going to be launching here soon called We Champion Cycling. And the idea is those words are picked very carefully because we are champions in this country. But the bigger idea is that everybody can be a champion, whether you’re just getting on a bike, whether you’re riding with your family, whether you’re competing in a local event, or whether you’re competing at an elite level.”

“We got to make a shift. We’re going to continue to sell licenses, but I want a different kind of member. I want somebody who wants to put that logo in their back window as a sense of pride. And in fairness, Kristin, we’re not there today. We are not there today. I’m not naive about this. I got a good sense of the reputation we’ve earned, but I also have a very clear path on how we earn a better one. And so let’s ride the OTA programs, all of our free juniors, we just made juniors free this year in a year.”

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