Dealer association buys Barnett School of Mechanics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The National Bicycle Dealers Association has agreed to buy the Barnett Bicycle Institute – the 30-year-old professional mechanics school – from its founder, John Barnett.

As service becomes increasingly important to retailers, the purchase will allow the association to provide its members with training and certification for their employees, the NBDA said. The association plans to expand BBI’s offerings with online courses, regional courses and certification tests.

The purchase comes at a time when many bicycle retailers are looking to scale up their service businesses in the face of online competition and omnichannel distribution. For several years, the NBDA has been trying to develop its own online program for the training and certification of entry-level mechanics.

Development of this program has stalled, and NBDA Chairman Todd Grant said the purchase of BBI created a clear roadmap to get it done.

“The mission of the NBDA is to strengthen the specialty bicycle retailer – education being a key part of the association’s vision. We see that improving the service department – where every bike goes – is a natural place for us to make a significant investment in education. ” noted.

The purchase price is not disclosed, but it is the most significant transaction in recent NBDA history. The association will pay BBI from its cash reserves. Grant expects the operation to generate income for the association, diversifying its sources of income.

“It’s a profitable operation, so it will be paid back into the association’s reserves and we will determine the appropriate reinvestment rate,” Grant said.

Grant said there were no immediate plans to change the name of the Institute. The operation will remain in Colorado Springs, where it is based in a rented building. The courses will remain open to anyone interested in acquiring professional mechanical skills.

“We will be able to offer benefits to NBDA members exclusively – an obvious benefit would be a reduction in tuition fees for NBDA members. But we can also extend the offers to courses exclusive to NBDA members. , such as service writing courses or even teaching management skills like workforce planning, ”Grant said.

John Barnett began teaching off-season courses for professional mechanics in the 1980s, while still serving as a service manager at Criterium Bike Shop in Colorado Springs. BBI celebrated its 30th anniversary as a full time business this year.

Between 250 and 300 students go through Barnett’s classes each year.

Barnett, who turns 65 this year, said he hasn’t actively tried to sell the business, but has made an effort in recent years to prepare it for sale, in case the right buyer would show up. He said the NBDA was really the kind of buyer he hoped to present himself.

“They understand that IBD needs to get more sophisticated on the service side of the business, and what they want for BBI is to keep the programs intact and grow them,” Barnett told BRAIN.

The purchase was not finalized on Thursday. Barnett said he plans to remain a full-time consultant for BBI for at least a year.

BBI already offers certification – both class completion certificates and more rigorous certifications that require hundreds of hours of real-world experience in addition to passing a practical test. Grant said the NBDA plans to work with BBI to offer such and other certification tests at regional events such as open houses and trade shows.

News from bicycle retailers and the industry, owned by Emerald Expositions, is operated under license by NBDA Services Inc., a company owned by the Dealer Association.

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