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Case study: Hed Cycling

Hed Cycling gains traction

Ready for growth

A pioneer of solid disc bicycle wheels, Hed Cycling designs and manufactures high-end cycling equipment. CFO Anne Hed, who co-founded the company with her husband Steve, had grown the company to 45 employees, generating more than $8 million in annual revenue. Prior to joining the CEO Next Business Institute, Hed Cycling had hit a growth plateau. Working with a personal research team with CEO Next, Hed refined her business model and marketing strategy and launched into a new growth phase.

First steps

One of the first things the research team did was help Hed understand and refine her business model. Hed Cycling is primarily an innovator with a low-volume, high-profit niche, selling the majority of product to retail stores either directly via OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers or through distributors. “It’s okay for us to take on OEM customers; however, we need to resist the temptation to lower prices too much to win large orders — otherwise we risk becoming a commodity,” Hed says.

Equally beneficial has been participating in roundtable discussions with other second-stage business leaders. Hed credits her fellow roundtable members for strengthening her business acumen.

“They’ve pushed me to read books I never would have picked up on my own,” she says. Among these was “StrengthsFinders,” which Hed has found particularly insightful. In fact, she has hired a consultant to administer the assessment to a dozen of her key employees, which she believes will improve communications and information flow.

A new perspective

In addition, the roundtable sessions have altered Hed’s business perspective. “When you have your own business, there’s a lot of stress,” she explains. “Talking with other business owners and hearing their experiences has made me see stress in a more positive light. This is what I want to be doing — the ups and downs are normal; it’s part of owning your business. It’s also comforting to see that many of my challenges aren’t as great as others."

Since Hed started the CEO Next program in October, she’s added seven employees. In addition, the company is expanding its physical footprint, buying a 25,000-square-foot building. The company had been renting half of that space, and the extra elbowroom will enable Hed Cycling to prepare for future growth and expand into more product lines.

“I’m more invigorated about growing the business than I used to be,” Hed says. “I had gotten complacent, and as a business owner, complacency is not a good place to be in. Participating in the CEO Next program has given me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and go for it. If we stay on task, we can double our business in five years.”

In 2017, HED Cycling made Forbes' annual list of Small Giants, naming it as one of 25 of the best small companies in the nation.

Learn more about CEO Next Business Institute.