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Hot Read Hot read Mar 16

Managing Director Rob is approaching 10 years at Reid. We sit down and have a chat with Rob to find out more about his experience, challenges and plans for the future. You may even see the odd throwback photo, and check out the end of the article for some comments from his team members.

Interviewer:

I’m coming up to 10 months at Reid Bikes now and you’re approaching 10 years… when will it be and does it feel like it’s been that long?

Rob Akam: 

This week is actually my ten year anniversary here at Reid. Does it feel that long? Yes and no. It feels like I have been doing it my entire life, and that everything before for it was just preparation for this, but at the same time, the 10 years has flown by, and I remember every step of the journey very clearly.

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Interviewer:

For anyone new here, could you give us an overview of what Reid is and your role here?

Rob Akam:

Reid is first and foremost a bike brand. We set out to make quality but affordable bikes to get more people enjoying the sport and leisure of cycling and its many wonderful by products such as health improvement, climate benefits over other methods of less green transport, and getting to explore your local environment. More recently we have moved into other forms of mobility such as eScooters and watersports too, all with the same ethos. My role here is as Managing Director. What that means is that I get to listen to great ideas from our awesome team and try to help bring them to life, whilst ensuring all aspects of the business are working in harmony to ensure we deliver on our promises of value, quality and service to our stakeholders.

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Interviewer:

What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) so far?

Rob Akam:

Well I remember a lot, and some memories of the ‘early days’ in Australia are the fondest, where we were just at the start of the journey there, and growing and learning at a rapid rate. The days of overseeing the Sydney store when I first started 10 years ago and having a line of people out the front of the shop waiting to buy a Reid bike from a shop unit with just 36sqm of retail space will stick with me forever. I knew that Reid was on to something when I first saw that. More recently one of my proudest memories at Reid when we hit 200k bikes in a 12 month rolling window for the first time. It was a target I had in my head for a long time.  Throughout each step of the journey we have had great team members that I share many fun memories with too. Of course there are memories of less positive things; no business trades for 10 years without challenges. 

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Interviewer:

What do you think the next 10 years will look like for the business?

Rob Akam:

That’s a tricky one. 10 years ago I would never have thought we would be in more thn 30 countries now, as expansion beyond Australia wasn’t even considered at that time. For me now its about helping to guide the brand to grow within each market, becoming more established, recognised, and respected. Our products have developed more in the last 12 months than the previous 3 years, and we now have a highly experienced Product Manager heading up this development. So we want to work with our partners to ensure we maximise the opportunities in each market, as well as growing the number of distribution partners that we have around the globe. A big and growing part of our business is supplying other brands with their own bikes too. This is an area of exceptional ongoing growth and opportunity. These partners are usually expert retailers, with huge reach, that can leverage our sourcing and product knowledge to deliver great products to their customers. We are in talks with several new ‘chain retailers’ around the world right now to help them bring their ideas to life. Its absolutely feasible that we could be designing and assembling over 500,000 bikes per year within 10 years when considering volume of both our Reid and our Supply Contract partners. 

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Interviewer:

Big plans! I have no doubt it’ll happen. What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Rob Akam:

Supply Chain. These past two years with the acute challenges in the sourcing of components and assembly capacity have shown more than ever how important having a robust supply chain is. It has also taught me that having the right people in our team with skills and knowledge in this space is vital. Our supply chain team at our head office has grown rapidly, and we now have more staff in supply chain than in sales and marketing combined. This is what has enabled us to grow the ‘supply contract’ side of our business quite quickly, coupled with an office in China which is home to our three QC staff and a bi-lingual Supply Chain Assistant.

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Interviewer:

Sounds like some busy days ahead. What does an average day in the life of Rob currently look like?

Rob Akam:

I’m normally up very early, 5/5.30am as I have two young children. This gives me a chance to deal with any urgent emails from Australia and China. I make sure that I am at my desk by 7am, and normally have calls just after this with clients in Australia, and then have a catch up with our team in China. Our team at the office all tend to start early too, and are in between 7am and 8am, so after my calls I will catch up with them, discuss any matters that need to be addressed, and work through my emails, and task board. This is a never ending cycle, as the workload never decreases, even as we take on more staff, as we are still very much a growing business. Daily tasks can be anything from approving a booth at a trade show, to planning a trip to see a major client face to face, to signing off on a new model range. Then there is the less glamorous side of the role of an MD including renewing insurance policies, ensuring taxes are all paid, approving accounts, working on budgets or signing new manufacturing contracts. As I start quite early, I tend to leave the office around 4-4.30pm, but then when I get home I tend to work on my phone quite a bit, as its easier than ever to do this thanks to technology. Unless I am joining a call with one of the team and a client in North America I try not to open my laptop in the evenings at home. Once we get the kids to bed I’m normally pretty tired myself too, and so I don’t do too much social activity during the week except for going to the gym, or maybe one night a week catching up with friends.

Interviewer:

Do you manage to fit some fun product testing in? What would be your favourite Reid product and why?

Rob Akam:

I am fortunate enough to get hands on with quite a lot of our products still, and am very passionate about product and product development. This is one of the reasons why we have only recently hired a Product Manager and handed primary responsibility of development to this person. In hindsight we should have done it much sooner, as the work they are doing is incredible, and now it makes me even more excited to get hands on with the new products. My favourite product I have tested lately has to be the Sphinx. Its an all new full suspension eMTB we had been working on for well over a year. I don’t get to ride as much as I used to due to work and family commitments, so an excuse to take such an awesome bike out over the heathland right next to our office was taken in a heartbeat. I also commute sometimes on eScooters that we are developing which is always fun! They make so much sense, and ridden safely are a great alternative to jumping in the car. Last summer I even managed to get out on one of our ISUPs, which I hadn’t used in years! It took a while to get used to it again but once I did, it was great fun. Overall though, as a keen mountain biker, the Sphinx is definitely my favourite product in our range right now.

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As you can see, Rob has been super busy over the last 10 years developing Reid into what it is today. The team here really is like a big family and that warm and friendly environment is one of many great things that Rob brings to the company. We’ve caught up with a few of the Reid team members to hear their thoughts…

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Rob over the past nearly 5 years. A true entrepreneur, Rob had a vision to take the Reid brand out of Australia and through hard graft, determination and the great team he’s built around himself, he’s turned it into the global success Reid is today. A believer of ‘we’re more than the sum of our parts’, Rob’s ethos for togetherness has made for a great community to work in and an even better community of riders across the globe.” – Kyle, Marketing Manager

“I’ve not quite hit my year mark at Reid yet but one thing that was evident from my very first day was that Rob would be a great boss and guy to work with. It’s always a pleasure being in the office and working on projects with him and so incredible to see how far Rob and Reid have come together. Rob is an inspiration to us all.” – Beth, Marketing Assistant

“I’ve only been with the company for a few months but I can already see that Rob is a fantastic leader and has built an amazingly welcoming and talented team of people that together will drive the business to achieve even greater global success.” – Laura, Supply Chain Manager

“In the short time I have worked for Rob I have already grown as a Product manager and a person. Rob’s enthusiasm and drive for the business really shines and reflects in his staff.  He is a great person to work for and has built a fantastic team around him which is growing to reflect the growth and hard work everyone puts in.” Leon, Product Manager

“I’ve been at Reid for around a year and a half now and its incredible how much it’s grown in that time.  Rob has the vision and drive to push Reid to where he believes it should be and is extremely passionate about the products and the service we provide to our customers, ensuring that we always go the extra mile to make sure customers are happy.  I think he an inspirational person encouraging us to look at how things can be done better constantly but at the same time, supporting us when we are feeling a little overwhelmed.  I love working at Reid!” Seonaid, Lead Supply Chain Manager

“Rob is a brilliant person to work for. Having been part of the team back in 2015, Rob created Reid international from nothing but a dream and a laptop, and has single handedly got the business to where it is today. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the bike industry, and fully invested in making Reid a global success. It’s a pleasure to work for Rob, and learn from him on how to grow a global brand.” Jonny, International Sales Executive

“Rob is a great person to work for. I have only been with Reid for 8 months and really enjoy working for the company. Rob is an inspirational person with so much knowledge and experience in the bike industry.” Sam, Administration Assistant 

“Rob is such a natural leader that has always made me feel that I was part of the family. He is the person you don’t want to say no to but he understands when it needs to be. As well as his business skills he loves what he is doing and this is what makes me believe that we are working for a good cause everyday for over 3 years now” – Daiana Da Silva – Supply Chain Manager

“Rob is authentic, transparent, inspirational, motivating and sets the tone for a great group culture. His vision for the brand is clear for everyone and he is truly engaging and empowering us to feel we are part of it for the long haul!” Vincent, Business Development Manager

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