By Tom Demerly.
In a widely shared story on social media from December 8, 2013, bicycle mega-brand Specialized Bicycles threatened legal action for alleged trademark infringement against small local retailer Cafe Roubaix Bicycles in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. The threat originated from concerns by Specialized Bicycles over their legally protected trademark for the word “Roubaix” when referring to specific product categories.
Social media critics, including this writer, were quick to point out what appeared at the time to be a heavy-handed approach by Specialized.
On Thursday, December 12, 2013 Specialized founder Mike Sinyard was quick to reply with a sincere apology to Cafe Roubaix Bicycles’ owner Dan Richter. In the apology, Sinyard said, “I just want to say a big apology for this whole thing that got way out of line…”
“I just want to say a big apology for this whole thing that got way out of line…” Mike Sinyard, Specialized Bicycles.
Sinyard traveled to Cochrane, Canada to deliver the apology in person at Cafe Roubaix Bicycles. In a text book example of social and business crisis management Sinyard went on to say, “I completely take full responsibility.”
Specialized Bicycles can be credited with financial support of independent bicycle dealers across the U.S. who have suffered during the recession. In several cases Specialized has provided financing, management, merchandising and inventory assistance that saved local retailers from closing. In addition Specialized Bicycles has demonstrated extensive support of social and environmental causes through their “Sustainable Innovation” initiatives that include environmental, import and workplace guidelines for corporate integrity.
Sinyard’s textbook example of crisis management establishes a new standard of corporate responsiveness and accountability in the cycling industry and cements Specialized Bicycles’ status as a leading brand in cycling.