Surly, it’s about… people.
When a person (like you) visits our website to look at all of the bike crap we make, you see other things we put on there designed to keep you entertained. For example, you can look at pictures of and read words from all the people that work here on our blog. In the Surly Mothership, we have people that do sales, customer service, marketing, supply-chain-something-or-other and product design. That may sound like everything required to keep the machines of capitalism hurtling towards our eventual self-wrought destruction but in this world of pushing global consumerism, there are a lot of other people and crap involved.
While I was at Interbike, I was surprised to find out there were a lot of people that were surprised to find out we are not a stand-alone entity, but the troubled child of parent company Quality Bicycle Products. My response to the surprise of these people was always along the self-depreciating lines of “Surely you don’t think a group of idiots like us could pull this off alone?!” And while most people reacted to my humor the same way a dog would react to being shown a card trick, it’s funny because it’s true. There are a lot of really smart people that work at Surly (or at least a lot of know-it-alls), but there is another team of people that support us who are also pretty smart, probably smarter than us. I thought I’d write about those people because I once heard someone say "corporations are people." As I said ealier, the people of Surly make up our sales, marketing, product design, supply chain and management teams but there is a virtual army of others that watch over us like patient parents with sociopathic children, ever vigilant, waiting to yank the leash when they see us get too close to the stove or try to kill the family dog. Here are a few of those people. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but if it weren’t for these people, God help us….
We sell bikes. Somehow those bikes we sell need to actually get to the people who buy them. How does that happen you ask? I have not a clue, but the people in the warehouse do. They’re the ones that get our stuff out to you. While there are too many people that have a hand in physically getting things into and out of the door to name all of them, at the helm of the ship are people like Don, Kim, Kopish, Zeigle, Tanner and KK, the people of Bike Builder, Wheels, the list goes on. The warehouse is vast and requires a lot of people to keep a lumbering juggernaut, such as it is, lumbering towards the fulfillment of it’s capitalist desires. See how blurry that forklift is in the photo?! Dude be gettin' after that hyperspace money.
We also have a whole team of legal and compliance people. As far as I know, their main job is to keep us all from getting arrested, but I think they also make sure our products comply with all of the rules set forth by the CPSC and god knows who else, so that everyone stays nice and safe all the time. They think people should wear life preservers around on the street, just in case. The Electric Law Wizard rides in a helmet to stay safe and comply with local and state ordinances relating to bicycle safety.
Have you ever wondered how we magically transport all of our bikes to the demos we put on? Me too! Well, it’s these dudes: Darren Bromeier and Ron, two of the main QBP events people. Shepherded by a Sasquatch hunter named Manderson, they’re the ones that look after our bikes and transport the goods to their end destination. Near or far, these guys put in massive work days so people can test out our bicycles, so you should be especially appreciative of them. You can tell they work really hard because they are both so sweaty in these photos I took without them knowing.
In a lonely, dark corner of the building, there’s a giant team of IT people that do things like keep our website running and – I think – fly the space shuttle. Everyone knows computers are hard, so you can be damn sure none of us are responsible for keeping our web presence and e-commerce robots chugging towards profitability. Take for example Kris, he emails me my password every time I need to log into our website to write a blog, or Jordan, who has repeatedly told me how to turn off my computer because I don’t know how to do that either.
We also have the benefit of a large HR department so when we get mad at each other, or get generally hosed by life, we can go to HR and complain to them and they'll take the time to listen. It's pretty nice of them. They're also a photogenic bunch. You might recognize the person in the photo below from one of the ads we ran in Bust magazine a while ago. It's Beth and she's cool because when I started working here she explained to me what "Health Insurance" does. Before I started working here, my approach to health and wellness was to just let the person driving the ambulance decide whether I needed to see a doctor or a mortician. Beth very patiently explained to me that I don't have to do that anymore. I always try to imagine my Surly co-workers in the HR role, something that requires sensitivity and tact. I just don't see that going well, so thanks HR – for wiping away the tears.
Among the many other Surly helpers are our softgoods team of Beckie and Lindsay. They make sure our softgoods are both soft and good. We have come a long way from the days of only making the 1x1 frame. We have a lot of different products and a lot of projects in the hopper and these two help bring all of that into the world for you, our customers. Here's a photo of one of them looking like they're about to be hit by a car wearing a Surly hoodie.
It’s a small representation of the actual hundreds of people that have a hand in making Surly bikes a thing instead of just an idea, but they’re all important in their own ways because we really couldn’t do it all ourselves. Seriously, every time I attempt to complete even the most basic of tasks, I fail regardless of what it might be. Imagine if I was trying to ship a pallet of bikes to your bike shop… I'd probably get caught and suffocate in the giant plastic wrap machine thingy. It'd be a horror show – guts everwhere. Everywhere. So you can see, we're pretty lucky to have so many people like this backing us up.
Now go ride yer damn bike someplace.