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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Taiwan Branding: A Tale Of Two Success Stories

Trigon/Great Go Facility in Da Jia

I just came across this really great article about Trigon, one of Taiwan's top OEM/ODMs for carbon frame manufacturing.

Trigon has, until recently, been quietly making a name for itself as one of the finest bicycle frame fabricators and designers in the world. Many of the top brands with fancy European names have sold Trigon frames under their own mark. Taiwanese companies like Trigon have really helped brand Taiwanese bicycles as being "world class" innovators and not simply fabricators.

I am also sure much of this success has something to do, in part, with Josh C. their humble and unassuming test rider who never rubs his sponsored swag in the noses of other riders. ;)

Now more trigon branded bikes are making their way into the market, riding the wave of Trigon's reputation within the industry.

It will be interesting to see more and more Taiwanese brands step out from the OEM shadow and stand proudly as a "Taiwanese" bike.

Velocite Magnus

A second story comes from a press release from Velocite bikes from the Open PR: Worldwide Public Relations website, regarding the National Entrepreneurship Award, Velocite was presented with by the pathologically annoying Premier Wu Po-hsiung.

According to the press release...

"Velocite was selected by the Council of Labour Affairs as one of ten winners from 80 eligible applicants to receive the entrepreneurship award. The selection criteria included the success of market entry strategies, sales performance, and ability to create value for the economy."

Chinese Frame From

Velocite is a company based in Kaohsiung, run by Victor and Jessica Major, that has been working very hard to become a force in the market for affordable frames and components.

Stradalli's Milano (Italian Names Sell Bikes)

For at least some of its product line, Velocite has purchased "open molds" from frame makers in China. For those of you who do not know, an "open mold" is where a company produces a generic mold for a composite frame that is pitched to various big bike frame manufacturers. These molds and their development is a costly process that consumes valuable company resources. If the mold can not be sold, it becomes "open" to any company that wishes to run several copies off the mold. Any company may use the mold and therefore it is not uncommon to find identical looking frames with different branding stickers. A company may have a degree of flexibility in choosing composite layering and carbon fiber quality. This is the "engineering" where Velocite claims to differentiate itself from other branding companies. Many of their products have been heavily shopped around to other companies for several months before being picked up by Velocite, and a few industry friends recall testing the OEM products despite claims that the products are "cutting edge".

Velocite has done a heck of a promotional job though. They have sponsored numerous riders and gotten them to do their part to publicly support the brand.

Velocite Hub From Cho Sen

Velocite also sells a number of components in a similar fashion. To be fair, this is not a totally uncommon practice and sometimes a company will buy a mold or a design, test it, slightly modify it, and then slap a new sticker on it.

Cho Sen OEM Hub

What I find a little disturbing about this award is that many of Velocite's products, especially the composites, are of Chinese origin and benefit Chinese companies over their Taiwanese counterparts... which is fine... but maybe not a real "rah rah!!" entrepreneur story for supporting Taiwan.

Furthermore, this IS a business model that could be easily replicated with nearly identical products from the same OEMs.

My good friend actually rides the pictured Velocite and seems quite satisfied. He bought their alloy Selene frame as well for training, though he has also broken a few components in a short period of time. I am not saying the bikes are bad at all... I am simply pointing out their strategy... and for its part, Velocite has been transparent about this strategy.

As for the bikes... it is all about what you are looking for.


*See the comments for some additional information from Velocite's CEO.