COMPANY PROFILE: Ultimate Sports Engineering

BikeBiz talks to Rory Hitchens at Ultimate Sports Engineering to find out more about doubling turnover, margins and breaking past the 1,000 lumens threshold...
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What advances in lighting technology have appeared over the past few years?
I think we are all used to the LED revolution now, so really the big step up has been greater efficiency of the emitters. When we built our lights with the P4 LEDs in 2008, just about every area improved –brightness, burn time and cost. The customer at this point really got a big leap in technology.

Currently, the trend is increasing the output from a single emitter, like the P7 in our Diablo and Toro models, however they do require more battery.

Any plans to break past 1,000 lumens per light?
Previously we said the MaXx-D was enough, but we’d all love a bit more really. It’s still too early to give any solid details, but I think it would be rude not to explore this area.

How have you managed to double turnover winter-on-winter?
With both marketing and a strong show presence –plus increased capacity and better delivery to our dealers. Our lighting range is second to none this year and with a third factory unit just for lights assembly here at USE, we’ve been able to deliver exactly what the dealers need.

What’s your best seller and what’s the demand for high-end lighting?
Exposure Joystick is still the top seller in units. It’s such a great all-round product with a multitude of awards behind it. In it’s third year now, even the word Joystick has become common language in the trade and out on the trail. Despite being our most expensive, dealers love selling MaXx-D for its simplicity and all-round performance at a price that is still well within reach for all cyclists needing a proper tool for the job.

Is anything affecting business at present, or likely to in future?
Yes. Costs sometimes go up from far eastern parts suppliers and the dollar rate has to be watched. We try to counter these rises with increased production.

Manufacturing in the UK is not cheap, but we do have total control on quality and the level of service we can give to the customer is much better that way. It makes no sense for dealers to be tempted into cheap imports that offer lower margin and little, or no, after sales service.

Why should dealers choose USE?
USE offers competitive margins and aims to give all its products a good marketing push. Exposure Lights have very much sold through for dealers, due to the consumer demand created in our marketing.

We spend a lot of time face-to-face with potential customers throughout the summer at events and this converts to sales for the dealers come winter. There are staff purchase and demo light prices available. Customers often respond well to the opportunity to try before they buy with high-end lights. Group rides from shops are also encouraged in the winter – helping to sell bikes and other kit, too.

The time trial product from USE is securing podiums all over. What is this down to?
Aerodynamics. Weight is important, but nowhere near as much as the ability to cut through the wind at speeds up to 30mph.

Kristen Armstrong, Olympic and World Champion, is a great example of how the appliance of science can win races against (on paper) very strong competition. She’s like Julia Shaw, who chose to race with Tula aero bars for their speed advantage (these riders are not paid by USE).

TEL: 01798 344477

PICTURE CREDIT: Chris Keller Jackson

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