Begun in the 90’s by machinist/triathlete/pilot Sven Folmer, Hawk Racing is in that small and exclusive club of made-in-USA bicycle component manufacturers. Although Sven continues to serve as a behind-the scenes consultant to the company’s line of bottom brackets and other componentry, the reins of the business have been transferred to Eric and Cindy Parlin. Every Philly Bike Expo exhibitor’s story is unique. Among the tales I’ve heard are startups and sole proprietorships, career changes and legacies passed down within families or taken over by former employees. I was curious to find out how the Parlins came to be the ones to drive Hawk Racing into the future. Cindy answered my questions.
PBE: What (jobs? other businesses? education? training?) did you and Eric do before becoming Hawk’s new owners?
CP: Eric has an MBA from the University of Michigan. He has worked in manufacturing and process engineering for the past 20 years. He has always enjoyed riding and tinkering with his bike. I have a BFA in Art Education from East Carolina University. I taught middle school art and special education. I am a casual rider who enjoys trails and stops for lunch and drinks.
PBE: When did you know you wanted to go into the bicycle business?
CP: We knew we wanted to own our own business and had been searching locally for quite awhile. Eric and I work well together and we wanted a business that we could feel passionately about.
PBE: How did you choose this particular niche of the industry?
CP: Hawk Racing found us. As I said, we had been looking for a local business for awhile, when one day Eric got an email from a business broker about Hawk Racing. He ignored it because it was located in Florida. About two months later Eric got a phone call from a different business broker asking if he would be interested in getting some details about a great business that was for sale. When the broker told him it was in Florida Eric said no thanks. The guy was persistent and finally Eric agreed to receive more information on this “Great Business”. When he opened the email and realized it was Hawk Racing again, we thought it would be a good idea take a serious look at Hawk Racing.
PBE: How did you choose your location or did it choose you?
CP: We chose to relocate Hawk Racing to Fort Wayne, Indiana because this is home. At that time we had lived here for over 14 years and our daughter was still attending Indiana University. We have now been here for 15 of our 23 years of marriage and we can’t imagine living anywhere else.
PBE: What’s your favorite part of running your business?
CP: I enjoy the people. I never have a problem talking with a customer about what their bike needs are, how their riding season is going (lots of cold and rainy stories this year), events/races they have been to recently or are planning to go to soon. From a biased perspective, my favorite stories are about how great our products are. Eric enjoys more of the mechanical side of things. Like figuring out how to improve products or processes and coming up with new product ideas. We have prototypes of new over sized pulleys in the testing stage.
PBE: What’s your favorite ride?
CP: My favorite ride is on a Saturday morning to meet up with friends and ride the trails/paths around Franke Park into downtown, stop by The Deck for Mimosas and a bite to eat, then head to the Barr Street Farmers Market for a few fresh veggies that will fit in my back pack, and then head home to enjoy the rest of a relaxing day. Eric’s favorite ride is to head out on the back country roads with music in one ear, the sound of his wheels on the road in the other ear, and surrounded by corn fields. It’s his time to unplug and decompress.