Unioris a 100 year old European company. Their broad range of tools are still manufactured in Slovenia with 5 factories employing 3000 people in fair-wage jobs. The Unior name comes from the words UNIverzalna ORodja- (“Universal Tools” in Slovenian). I found a wealth of information on the company’s websites. Chris Kreidl was my contact to learn more.
PBE What’s your job title/description?
CK Depends on the day! Unior USA is a small company, It’s more or less just me right now. I handle customer service, shipping & receiving, website maintenance, taking out the garbage, you name it! I suppose if I had to narrow it down to one specific title I’d just say General Manager.
PBE What did you do before working for Unior USA?
CK I’ve been with Unior USA for a little over a year now. Prior to that I spent the better part of the last 10 years on the road working as a mechanic for professional road and cyclocross teams. Jittery Joe’s, Team TIBCO, Team SmartStop, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling on the road. Planet Bike, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, Rapha-Focus, Maxxis-Shimano Pro Cyclocross, and Alpha Bicycle Company on the cyclocross circuit.
PBE I see that Unior’s products are manufactured in Slovenia. Is there also a US-based facility for import/distribution? If so, where is it located?
CK Yes! My office/warehouse is where we handle all of our US distribution from, and that’s in Upstate NY in a little village called Ballston Spa. It’s about half an hour north of Albany.
PBE Were bike tools part of the Unior line from the beginning?
CKNope! Unior’s been in business making tools since 1919, we got our start producing tools and other forged items for agricultural and mining use. Unior has a strong history in contract manufacturing, and about 15 years ago they were making bike tools for another company when they decided to start producing their own as well. Unior’s reputation amongst mechanics in other industries led to a quick rise in our reputation in the bike market, and here we are today.
PBE What drives Unior’s design and innovation?
CK A couple things. The first is having exposure to segments outside of cycling. Aside from bike tools we produce a line of automotive tools, electrical tools, forgings for the auto industry, a whole mess of things. There are over 6000 different pieces in our tool line! We’ve been able to draw a lot of knowledge from the work we’ve done for those other areas and bring that to our bike tool line both in terms of design and construction.
Second, and perhaps closer to my heart, is our close involvement with professional mechanics. Having spent the better part of my adult life making sure my athletes were on bikes in top shape, I know the demands team mechanics face. The pressure is high, time is limited, and the expectations are enormous. We’re proud that a number of top-level road and mountain bike teams have come to us because they want to use the best tools possible. Team Quick-Step, Team Sky, Movistar, and Trek-Segafredo are the 4 Pro Tour road teams that work with us. We also co-title sponsor the Unior-Devinci Factory Racing team on the mountain bike World Cup circuit as well as provide tools to Commencal-Vallnord and Polygon-UR. Here in the US we’re also proud supporters of the Aevolo U-23 road team.
PBE When did Unior start expanding to the US market?
CK While a few items have been available for quite a while if you looked hard enough, Unior USA officially made it’s entrance into the US market in late 2016, but things were kept pretty mellow until I came on board in December 2018. We wanted to build a proper infrastructure and get enough inventory on hand to ensure we could meet expectations once we really started trying to promote the company.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your job?
CK Being associated with a company with such a storied history is really cool to me. I was fortunate enough to be brought to Slovenia last year prior to starting my job here to tour our factories and see just how the tools are made and it’s really something impressive. I love knowing that I work with a company that actually is producing what it sells rather than sticking its name on something from a random factory who knows where.
PBE What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
CKLong story short, if I’m on my mountain bike, I’m happy. I was eager to learn the trails up here once the season got into full swing but I sadly had to sit out most of the summer with a badly sprained ankle. Prior to moving up here I lived in Asheville, North Carolina and the mountain biking around there will always hold a special place in my heart.