The Five minutes with series presents a company with five short, sharp and to-the-point questions about who they are and what they do. This week, we’re joined by EBCO co-creator and industry legend Paul Stanforth.
Can you tell us about the history of the company?
EBCO was set up in 2009 and has been trading for eight years, so we were early into the electric bike market. The cycle industry history of both myself and my brother Rick goes back to 1986 when we set up Saracen in the early days of Mountain biking, before selling the Saracen brand to Madison in 2008 having sold one million Saracen bikes in the 22-year period between 1986 and 2008.
We often draw parallels to the early days of mountain biking to the early days of the electric bike market where the emphasis was (and is) based around product education and explaining the benefits of a new sector entering an established market. We were convinced then that mountain bikes would occupy a substantial market share and change the demographics of the industry. Our early market confidence was proved right as now mountain bikes occupy a substantial market sector (despite early scepticism) and it would be difficult to imagine the cycle industry without them.
Guess what? electric bikes are now in exactly the same position. They're poised to establish a new market sector again, changing rider demographics in a positive way and at a time when the general cycle industry is experiencing challenging trading conditions. We'll look back and wonder how we managed without electric bikes and the income stream they generate for us all.
What are you ultimately trying to achieve?
Simply put, we'd like to see EBCO become the most popular and well known e-bike brand in the commercial £1,000 -£2,000 retail price range. We want the brand to be available through all major UK cycle retailers. We'd also like to see Corratec become a dominant player in the technical £2,000 – £5,000 e-bike sector.
What gives you an edge over other companies in the industry?
Our experience of being in the trade and suppling many of the leading cycle retailers, both large and small, for the number of years we have has kept our feet firmly on the ground. Good product development and workable margins for both retailer and distributor have to be paramount and we believe that we work hard to make sure we perform in these areas.
The other part of the supplier equation that we set out to excel at is customer service, which can cover many aspects. We believe dealer training (as this is a comparative new sector) is important and gives both workshop and sales staff confidence in the product. We run regular dealer training days for the motor systems we use (Bosch and TranzX) with attendees receiving certification in the form of a framed certificate for their workshop/showroom.
All EBCO 2018 models from £999-£2,000 incorporate computer diagnostics for more accurate dealer servicing information (we believe we're one of the first companies to bring this technology down to the £999 retail price point). Technical and after sales spares back up is supported by a technical manager and a technical assistant. We carry good stocks of e-bikes and send out current stock lists to all dealers every week to keep them up dated.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
There are many innovations in the industry at the moment. The most recent concerns battery technology, which has seen developments in range extension, quicker charging times and size and shape moving from the traditional carrier mounted position, to frame mounting and now internal tube batteries allowing for more interesting frame designs. Major investment from electric motor system companies like Bosch, Shimano and TranzX are pushing the boundaries – resulting in better performance, lighter weight and smaller motor systems.
What does the future hold for the company?
Electric battery power technology is impacting our daily lives more and more as we look to find alternatives for fossil fuels. It's our intention position to grow EBC to take full advantage of the opportunity electric bikes present as part of a transport solution for both now and in the future.