Not many people can say they turned their childhood hobby into a sustainable career. Steve Buddendeck, a Rochester, New York area native, can say he has done exactly that.
As creator of Greenhouse BMX and Verde Bikes, Buddendeck has had his hands in a lot of different projects. Both of which were fostered out of his love for the sport of biking.
“BMX was my number one hobby as a kid. It was what I spent all my time doing,” said Buddendeck.
Verde Bikes produces quality BMX bikes and has been in business for over ten years. Greenhouse BMX works on the retail side of the business selling products like Verde Bikes. The distribution center sells to bikes shops in around 45 different states and 22 international markets, as well.
Buddendeck’s background is diverse. From photography to marketing to writing and event management, he’s worked in just about every facet of the industry.
At the young age of 22, Buddendeck was sitting in ESPN’s Bristol offices discussing the X Games, a legendary event in the biking world. Those kinds of experiences have molded Buddendeck into the entrepreneur he is today.
So how does a BMX-focused brand end up in the Midwest rather than the west coast? It was all about location and access to product. Columbus, a logistics hub for the country, was an obvious choice for Buddendeck and his co-founder, Cory Muth, to do business.
“Columbus is an incredible city. From a logistics side, we had no idea how incredible it was,” said Buddendeck. “It’s a really optimistic, educated, young and vibrant city. And just being here, there’s a bigger pool of talent.”
While the bike industry may seem glamorous, Buddendeck notes the difficulty of marketing a product where the ideal consumer is typically young and relies on their parents’ money to purchase the bikes.
“We are battling for a very fickle customer’s attention and their parents’ money,” said Buddendeck.
The key to sustaining a brand when your market appeals to young teenagers who are constantly bombarded by over-branding through social media channels and the rising digital world? Staying true to yourself.
“We never follow trends. We follow Verde,” said Buddendeck. “We have a focused brand.”
The market is ever-changing and it isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Buddendeck credits himself as a brand journalist when it comes to the marketing of Verde Bikes. He works to build excitement about the brand and grab their attention.
Buddendeck’s best piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to network.
“Nothing beats talking to other business people. It’s important to meet with people outside of your comfort zone.”
Bringing you the best stories from Columbus business owners, Cbuzz is presented by the Columbus Chamber in collaboration with the Columbus Dispatch and CD1025. Our host Dan Swartwout talks with entrepreneurs in Columbus’ first business-focused podcast.
March 8, 2017
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