See how bike shop owners, Mike Broderick and Jorge Negrete pedaled forward after losing their jobs at the height of the pandemic
OAKHURST, Cal. - According to Mike Broderick, when you hit a rough patch in life you can “coast, stop or pedal forward and move right past the challenges you're experiencing,” and that is exactly what he did. Mike, along with his colleague and now business partner, Jorge Negrete said goodbye to their hotel careers and opened their own shop. They founded Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure, after both seasoned hospitality professionals were furloughed last year as a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But this is no ordinary bike shop, located in Oakhurst, California, just 15 miles outside of Yosemite National Park. Mike's goal was to create a store that not only sold and repaired bikes but offered a unique concierge-style service for all levels of adventure and a store that not only cared about profit but people and the planet as well.
“In addition to bicycle repair, rental bikes, selling bikes and bike-related products, the shop would provide concierge services to customers on where to ride, hike, eat, recreate and stay,” Mike said. “The shop would be a one-stop-shop for bikes, gear, repair, and recreational advice.”
The owners added, “our company foundation is based on the Triple Bottom Line, where we look beyond just profit to include people and our environmental impact. We believe in investing in our communities and working with local vendors to support Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure's operations. We openly share our environmental results and practices as part of our transparency with our customers and community.”
The shop has two distinct areas. In the back, separate from the retail space, is the repair shop. The front of the store is the retail space.
“[The retail space] is cheerfully colorful, clean, has a chill area where customers can watch biking videos on a big screen TV while they wait for service, and we have large, beautiful maps on the wall illustrating the local trails,” Mike explained. “Additionally, we have brochures from local outfitters, inns, and restaurants we recommend. The shop provides an upscale retail experience with reasonable prices.”
Mike and Jorge’s passion for mountain biking is what led them to go into business together. Prior to the pandemic, Mike was a thriving Director of Sales and Marketing with over 30-years of experience in hospitality. He had the opportunity to work for some of the most prestigious hotels in the world, including Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Two Roads Hospitality, Delaware North, and Fairmont Hotels, including the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.
Jorge was a former captain in the Peruvian Air Force and met his wife while she was on vacation in Peru. Jorge and his wife ultimately moved to her hometown in Oakhurst, California, in 2012 where he began his career working in hospitality. He worked in several positions at a resort outside of Yosemite before becoming their Environmental and Safety Manager.
Jorge and Mike were colleagues at the same all-season resort and lodge outside of Yosemite National Park prior to being furloughed. They were also avid mountain biking buddies who would frequent the Yosemite trails and High Sierras. After Mike was furloughed and he witnessed the growing numbers of people wanting to have an escape from quarantine, and explore nature, it became very apparent to Mike what his next career move would be.
“I'm an avid mountain biker and am very passionate about the sport,” Mike shared. “I also understood that mountain biking and biking, in general, is a growing sport/industry. Even better, due to pandemics, riding bikes had exploded in the USA as people look for ways to get outside and improve their health.”
After Mike spent countless hours a day, seven days a week building a business plan, he turned to Jorge to be his business partner and opened Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure together.
“Having a job associated with my passion for mountain biking has been the most rewarding part,” Jorge said. “And to have a business where I can inspire people new to the sport of mountain biking. I love explaining to customers where to ride and then hearing how much they enjoyed the ride afterward.”
The business owners are pleased with the support they have received from their local community and the successes they have celebrated along the way. However, like all new businesses, Mike and Jorge ran into a few bumps in the road last year including finding bicycle manufacturers that have availability and coping with the unprecedented Creek Fire, the largest fire in California history, that raged only 15 miles from their shop.
“It was so bad that we were instructed to prepare to evacuate, and we had our cars packed with the possessions we wanted to save in case the evacuation was ordered,” they shared. “As a result of the fire, Sierra National Forest was closed for our first two months of being in business. Without access to the national forest, we didn't have tourists, and no one could recreate or ride during the area's peak mountain biking season.”
Once the shop was able to reopen, the team did not look back and prepared once again to start inspiring people to take more adventures and learn to mountain bike.
“We love seeing the looks on both children's and adults' faces after we repair and restore their bikes. The community has been amazing and so supportive of our shop,” Mike said.
He recalls a recent time where someone in the community showed their support in a big way.
“Recently we showed up to work, and there was a beautifully carved roadside sign with our logo. We have a professional sign on the building, but this new sign replaced our small off-brand sign we were using temporarily next to the highway. We have no idea who created the sign! It was an anonymous donation to our business, which is the perfect illustration of how our community supports our new business.”
Mike and Jorge have a very detailed multi-phase business plan that they are following to drive business. They plan to expand from bike repair, sales, and rentals to guided experiences for tourists.
“The sky is the limit as to the adventures we can offer beyond just mountain biking tours,” they shared. “We will also explore opening more bike shops with the Pedal Forward brand and may consider franchising.”
They add, “We're driven to be an asset for our community and provide jobs in the future for people that are interested in being a bike mechanic or tour guide while working for a business that has a fantastic culture with competing pay. Furthermore, we want to be a catalyst in helping other small businesses be successful through collaborations. We also ultimately want to grow our philanthropic initiatives to give back even more to the community that supported our success and growth.”
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