I conducted a brief Q&A with company representative Rob Meendering to learn more about VelocityUSA and The Wheel Department. Rob’s official title is “Sales, Brand Manager, Supplier of Smiles”. Gotta love that!
PBE What’s your job description?
RM We all wear many hats around here. This is mostly the result of being a very small (15 employee) company. My duties include: Sales, Brand Manager, Beard Care Consultant, Supplier of Smiles, Beer Acquisitions. I have also been a photographer for several years primarily shooting cycling events all over Michigan.
PBE Could you provide a brief history of the company?
RM From our website (because our owner, Tom Black, says it best):
“Velocity was founded just outside of Brisbane, Australia in 1989. Our first product was an adjustable aluminum waterbottle cage called the ‘Velocage’. It was such a clever and simple design that sales spread outside of Australia to the United States. As the company grew, so did our product offering and in 1991 we introduced our first aluminum rim, the Aero. Velocity set itself apart by offering a variety of rim drillings, sizes, and colors for the custom wheel builder. Our reputation was formed by providing an excellently manufactured and high quality product, with service and flexibility that is unmatched. In 1998 we began to produce fully built wheels using cleverly sourced high end components paired to Velocity rims. Many generations of high end, fully customizable wheels later, The Wheel Department was formed in Grand Rapids, Michigan near the beginning of 2011. In January 2012 we packed up our Australian facility and moved it to Jacksonville, Florida making us one of the only United States made aluminum rim manufacturers in the world – a fact we are very proud of. Most recently in December of 2016, we consolidated all of our production and distribution into our Grand Rapids, Michigan facility.”
PBE What’s your favorite part of your work?
RM What I love is traveling to personally meet our dealers all over the country. Each shop has it’s own vibe and personality. Getting to meet the many shop dogs (and sometimes cats) is also pretty darn cool. Managing the many athletes and events that Velocity sponsors and seeing the adventures shared by our many fans on social media, I am always in awe of those whom tackle a particularly long and/or difficult ride/race. It always amazes me what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing when it ignores the pain.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
RM My favorite ride is a bikepacking tour which I take every summer (It starts this week, in fact!). It started 6 years ago with a trip around the Door peninsula in Wisconsin and every year since then has been spent exploring our amazing state of Michigan. I like to keep the route and accommodation planning to a minimum in an effort to really embrace the adventures that can be had on a bicycle. Cheers!