Nicole and Boyd Johnson started making handcrafted road performance bicycles and wheels in September of 2009. Within the first year, they decided to focus on the production of their carbon fiber and alloy wheels and started Boyd Cycling in Greenville. Made for avid riders, their wheels are designed to be fast, comfortable and provide a better ride.
Carbon fiber is a stiff, strong, lightweight material perfect for performance riding, but due to cost, wheels made of this material were traditionally used only by riders on race day. With advancements in carbon and epoxies, these wheels have become more durable and affordable meaning an average rider can now enjoy these high quality wheels on a daily basis.
According to Nicole Johnson, sales have doubled every year since Boyd Cycling began. The company website, BoydCycling.com, features a variety of wheel products, as well as brakes and riding accessories such as bags for wheel storage.
While the couple started out building wheels themselves, the Johnsons now handle sales, marketing and engineering. The company now has ten employees including four wheel builders.
As the company grew the Johnsons knew they needed help with expansion. They now sell direct to consumers, as well as to independent cycling shops around the United States. The Johnsons were looking to expand into new markets, some international, but they were unsure exactly how to go about finding distributors. They were looking at distribution channels, as well as marketing and funding scenarios. They sought help from the SC Department of Commerce. Through a series of interactions with DOC and the Appalachian Development Corporation, the Johnsons were directed to the Spartanburg Area SBDC where they met business consultant Beth Smith.
“I was looking at grants for manufacturing and I got overwhelmed with the process. That’s when I was referred to Beth,” Johnson said. “She looked at our business from a holistic perspective. One of the major things that she facilitated for us was a connection with the International Trade Administration. They specialize in helping small businesses export.”
Johnson said her association with the Spartanburg Area SBDC was beneficial from an education standpoint. The International Trade Administration ran a report on the top 25 markets that would be most amenable to carrying Boyd Cycling products.
“That report would have cost many thousands of dollars if we had hired a consulting firm,” Johnson said. “In addition to helping us find resources, Beth looked at the structure of our company and realized that Boyd and I were spread thin. She showed us how to scale our company with the resources we have.”
With solid plans to expand into international markets, the future looks bright for Boyd Cycling. Johnson intends to continue to use the services of the Spartanburg Area SBDC as her company moves forward.
“Small business owners are good at producing a product or they have a specialized expertise in their field, but they’re not always good at all aspects of business,” Johnson said. “Often you need assistance. The SBDC is like a large consulting firm that is free. They certainly help your business succeed.”