When I first started writing Exhibitor Stories for PBE last year, I had yet to find my way to the Q&A format. I used research to write “Da Man, Da Machine, DaHANGER” about Jurgen Beneke and his innovative bike storage products. For this year’s piece, I took the interview approach. Here’s Jurgen Beneke in his own words:
PBE What influenced you to choose this niche in the bike industry?
JB I would say that my company is a complete reflexion of my life. I grew up in Europe and have always have been surrounded by lots of bikes.
My family lived a normal middle class apartment lifestyle, where space was always something that needed to be maximized.
As a tool & die maker by trade, I learned about the world of production and how things are made. I was fortunate enough to have a successful professional cycling career in my twenties and thirties before starting a remodeling business. Eventually, that lead me to making some furniture and also our first product- the DaHÄNGER bike shelf.
PBE The design of the whimsical “Dan” is so different from the utilitarian-looking DaHanger. Can you walk me through the development of the concept?
JB I think that it is important how we live and that the things that surround us should bring us joy and happiness. I love designs that solve problems in the simplest form possible. From the contemporary bike-shelf DaHANGER that cradles the bike by the seat, to the fun and space saving Dan that grabs the bikes by the pedal, everything should look like it belongs, and if we can create some smiles as a side effect, I think it’s a win win.
We also don’t take ourselves too serious and after making our first pedal hook prototypes, we discovered how the bottom kinda looks like feet.
check our designer secrets video: https://youtu.be/e37zqi-750g
PBE What brought you to the USA?
JB After being sponsored by Schwinn in the mid 90’s, and meeting my wife on the US circuit, I really enjoyed the creative freedom in the US. You can start a business anywhere in the world, but the US with its (slightly naive) positivity is special in how it makes you believe that you can do anything. You have to be an optimist at heart to start any business, and the US is the perfect place for this.
PBE How did you choose the location of your business or did it choose you?
JB I really like the North East because of its proximity to Europe and it’s massive cycling scene. We are located upstate NY and the road riding is in some way better than Europe (lack of cars). There are tons of small little side roads with hardly any traffic. The Catskill Mountains are tall and steep enough for road, gravel and mountain biking.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
JB A long road ride by myself is still one of the best ways for me to think about what comes next or how do I solve a certain problem. Usually this needs to be followed up by making a pretty rough prototype and see how it can work in the real world.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
JB My favorite part is to get customer feedback. I am so happy when I hear about how the Dan pedal hook puts a smile on somebody’s face or how the DaHÄNGER helped clean up someone’s messy cycling lifestyle. We get a lot of feedback photos and love sharing them on Instagram @DaHANGER_USA