Don Walker is the man behind both Don Walker Cycles and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about both his bikes and the show. In short, he’s the man with the plan.
How does one guy do so much so well? Well, I thought I’d try to get some answers with some interview questions.
The man has style.
So, what made you start the event? Divine intervention? Saw a niche?
I started the show because I felt a need for framebuilders to have their own show. Years ago, if you went to Interbike, you would walk around and see a framebuilders booth and it was swarmed with people. Framebuilders were like the rock stars of the bicycle industry. Everyone would come by and see the latest in the builders’ booths. Many of the larger companies would take pics of what the builders were doing and implement those developments into their next years product lines. As time went by, fewer and fewer builders could afford the mighty cost of exhibiting at Interbike. I am trying to give the builders the same outlet of exhibiting without the mega cost of Interbike.
What does the show do exactly? Define its purpose and goals for my drunken audience.
The show allows the “little guys” of the bicycle industry to get some well needed (and deserved) publicity. It allows consumers to spend time asking questions of the exhibitors as well. My mission is to educate the masses about the artisans of the bicycle world, a lot of folks don’t even know we exist and its time to change that. I also want folks to see there is an option to buying a bike off the rack. You can get to know the person that makes the bike and even supply them with your input on options and things you want from the build. Another thing we offer is a chance to listen and gain valuable knowledge from some of the foremost experts in the field of framebuilding and design in our seminars.
How’d the fist year go? After the first year, what did you need to change? Did more participants come on board after seeing the results?
The first years show was literally thrown together in 3 months. It needed to be done just to serve as the starting point for the show now. The first show was only 23 exhibitors and about 770 attendees over the weekend, which gave us a good solid starting point. The only changes being made are location. We went from Houston, Texas to San Jose, California for 06. The original idea was to have a traveling show and go from city to city, but the organization of each show takes too much time away from my own framebuilding, I would like to keep it in one town and leave it. However, if San Jose doesn’t pan out for us, we might have to look for another location. We did move to a larger venue for 06. We had so much good press that we went from 23 exhibitors to over 80 for this year.
What are you guys planning for the future? Any changes? I understand you moved to a bigger venue for ’06.
I see the future of this show growing into the ultimate bicycle consumer show. There’s still a chance for the show to travel each year, but it’s uncertain at this point. I would like to see how well San Jose fits with our format before I decide. It also means we might have to seek out an even larger hall depending on the success of this show, which means the availability of one in San Jose for our time slot (early March) could prohibit us from stayingâ€¦too many factors at this point.
Where do you see domestically produced bicycle frames and accessories in another five years? Ten?
I see handmade bicycle production up by quite a bit at this point. I think that you can’t swing a flatted tubular in most states without hitting a framebuilder or someone dabbling in it for a hobby. They seem to be popping up on every corner. Where will it lead in 5 years, I hope with my show it will lead to more and more of the masses wanting a custom frame, or high quality components made by small companies or individuals.
So, do you drink? If so, what’s your poison?
I like beer and Scotch. Mainly when it’s a suds mood, I go for Sierra Nevada Pale, Red Hook ESB or Shiner Bock. My favorite Single Malt at this time is Balvenie 15 year old Single barrel with a good cigar.