Riding out the pandemic – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA

“It was an unknown, a giant gaping black gap.” That’s how Adele Nasr, the chief advertising and marketing officer for electrical bicycle maker Aventon, described the state of the bike trade in March.

“That is actually scaring me; it’s going to be horrible,” is how Molly Moon Neitzel, proprietor of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, felt after seeing her gross sales figures in early March.

Like most small companies and startups, these corporations confronted the COVID-19 shutdown with the concern that they have been doomed.

Now, each Aventon and Molly Moon’s are thriving, and offering helpful survival classes.

“When the shutdown occurred, the primary thought was, ‘that is going to kill the bike trade,’” mentioned Justin Christopher, Aventon’s vice chairman of eCommerce. “Most unbiased bike retailers within the US are owner-operated, small companies. There was quite a lot of doom and gloom … As a substitute, the bike trade is an actual brilliant spot.”

Certainly it’s. Bicycle gross sales have skyrocketed through the pandemic, and electrical bikes, which Aventon now concentrates on, have additionally seen phenomenal progress, with gross sales will increase of 84% in March, 92% in April and 137% in Might, in accordance with The NPD Group. Aventon’s Nasr mentioned their gross sales demand grew by 600% in June.

For Aventon to realize from the sudden bicycle demand took technique and braveness.

“We sat down and did a roundtable,” mentioned Nasr, who mentioned all 15 workers within the small firm, primarily based in Ontario, California, have been included. “It made everybody conscious (of the significance of our decisions) as a result of their livelihood relied on the corporate.”

“We’re absolutely self-funded,” Nasr defined. “Each greenback that goes into the corporate is our personal cash. All people checked out one another and mentioned, ‘At present we’re not worthwhile. Will we make investments sooner or later or will we attempt to experience out the storm?’”

Aventon leaned in.

“It was a leap of religion,” Nasr mentioned. “We elevated our advertising and marketing finances by 4 occasions when gross sales have been down.”

Bike producer Aventon pivoted arduous towards ebikes as soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit. The gamble paid off as demand for ebikes has skyrocketed since March.

Till 2018, Aventon targeting fixed-gear bikes, specializing in biking fanatics. Earlier than COVID-19, they’d already began specializing in ebikes, however the shutdown made them sit up and take inventory.

“We made a tough pivot to ebikes in a really brief time,” Nasr mentioned. They employed advertising and marketing businesses and consultants to assist them – public relations, digital advertising and marketing, search engine optimization (search engine marketing), organising associates.

“We had 10 occasions orders enhance in a single day; we have been getting 300 calls a day. …It was like a ton of bricks hit us,” Nasr mentioned.

The corporate grew to greater than 25 U.S. workers – they’re nonetheless hiring.

Aventon was in an awesome place to capitalize on the demand as they’ve their very own manufacturing facility in China, uncommon for such a small and younger firm. Aventon started in 2012, when founder J.W. Zhang was a pupil at California State College-Lengthy Seaside. His mother and father, again in China, have been concerned in manufacturing, so when he wished extra high quality management than attainable with contract producers, his mother and father have been in a position to assist.

Frankly, after using an Aventon “Degree” ebike, I understood the demand. I used to be stunned and delighted. I rode the Aventon ebike each to select up groceries and on leisure rides, permitting me to maintain up with my road-biking brother Arnie and sister-in-law Mary, whereas simply utilizing pedal help for the uphill climbs. I might get as a lot train as I selected (or none).

Ice cream maker Neitzel additionally needed to make a tough pivot after her Seattle-based shops closed down just about in a single day. She laid off 90 of her 98 workers, together with her father.

“We reimagined the corporate – what it might appear like to get by way of this,” Neitzel mentioned. Groceries have been in demand, so she began calling grocers, asking, “If we make pints, will you purchase them?”

By the third week of March, grocery shops had been overrun with demand for all groceries and had loads of shelf house.

Neitzel, too, determined to lean in.

“We needed to test our intestine, making one of the best guesses at what would work,” she says.

Neitzel’s braveness paid off. Molly Moon’s Ice Cream is now in 45 grocery shops, Neitzel has introduced again 80 workers and her shops have reopened.

COVID-19 has caused unhealthy occasions for small companies. However unhealthy occasions additionally create alternatives. Search for the place demand is rising, be versatile and be prepared to alter. Be courageous and take a (calculated) leap of religion.

Rhonda Abrams is the writer of “Profitable Enterprise Plan: Secrets and techniques & Methods.” Join with Abrams on Fb, Twitter and Instagram: @RhondaAbrams. Register for her free enterprise suggestions publication at www.PlanningShop.com.