The Bike Surgeon at 3348 Green Mount Crossing Dr. in Shiloh is being honored with this year’s General Business Award.
Jon Greenstreet, with fellow managing partners Thomas Jackson and Chris Norrington, bought the business in 2004, when it was located in Carbondale. They opened the metro-east shop in July 2009.
Originally from Lebanon, Greenstreet, who now lives in O’Fallon, was a student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he earned an MBA in 1999, when he was introduced to the business. He began working in the shop in 1997 while studying at the university. Discussing the purchase, he said, “It was something fun to do but after we opened this store it soon became our main source of income. At that point, I decided to stop doing other things and do this full time.
“Business seems to be growing nicely here,” he then said. “We have a great cycling group — the Metro-East Cycling Club based out of O’Fallon — and they are cultivating cyclists. There also is a Belleville Cycling Club that is very popular. And ... the local trail networks are growing.”
He added sanctioned cycling events, such as the Illinois state road-racing championship, also are migrating to the area.
As for the types of bikes in demand, Greenstreet said, “In this market, there is a lot more of the road-focused riding going on just because you can walk out your front door and take off and go for a bike ride. There are 100 miles of trails where you can disappear for a very long ride and not have to deal with traffic.... So we have a lot more customers who ... want the high performance road bikes or the hybrids.”
And, he said, the Bike Surgeon, which has a staff ranging from 15 to 20 depending upon the season, offers only high quality gear.
“The products we sell here are different than you might find in big box stores and the quality is dramatically different,” Greenstreet said, while noting a bike may range in price from $400 to $10,000 if custom-made. “And, whether it is the $400 or the $10,000 bike, they are going to be around for as long as you want them to be.”
The Bike Surgeon partners expanded their business in late 2010 to include a variety of outdoor gear and equipment.
Explaining, Greenstreet said, “It works nicely for us. It fits well with our customer base. It helps us do a little more business in the winter. And it has been very successful for us.”
Asked if sales or service drive the business, he said, “The whole business melds together and we don’t put more focus on one area rather than the other.
“Sale and repair of bikes go hand-in-hand,” he said. “The sale of bikes is the foundation of any bike shop; you have to have that to really do well. But if you don’t deliver top-notch repairs, you won’t be doing if for long.”
Cycling’s economic impact
Greenstreet pointed out cycling has “a pretty significant economic impact” in the region.
“The economic impact of cycling and of the bike trails was not really accepted 20 years ago,” he noted. “But, while it is hard to put into numbers, look at Edwardsville and that part of Madison County and how it has been able to capitalize on that resource. Those neighborhoods are expanding and part of it is because the bike trails are there.
“Biking has a recreational and social component some other sports do not have. Anyone can get on a bike and go for a ride and have a lot of fun. So families with kids and senior citizens are all going out for exercise because they don’t have to ride on the roads,” Greenstreet explained.
“Now, St. Clair County is seeing that and getting on board ... and it is great to see that,” he said.
Greenstreet then said the shop advocates for bikers and motorists to follow the rules of the road when sharing area streets. “Most folks don’t know cyclists are users of the road. They are not suppose to be on sidewalks...,” he said. “When someone climbs in a car they automatically see someone in spandex as doing them a disservice by being on the road.
“We need to be respectful users of the road. We need to use it correctly,” he said of cyclists. “We should not be out blocking traffic riding six to eight wide through the middle of town.
“But, on the other side of coin, I really like showing up not dead,” he added.
Discussing the Chamber of Commerce Award the business is receiving, Greenstreet said, “It is pretty neat to be recognized as doing a good job in the community. We put a big focus on having a positive impact in the community. We get involved with a lot of charitable organizations and try to help grow the positive things that are happening.
“We are trying to build long-term friendships, not just sell bikes.... And we do what we can to offer a level of service folks are interested in,” he explained.
“We want folks to be into the sport and enjoy it, whether on a fun ride with the kids after school or riding 150 miles across Indiana on a weekend. So we support the cycling clubs and we offer opportunities for out customers to get involved with the sport,” he said.
“We want to be the point of contact for everything cycling,” Greenstreet explained. “If we are doing a good job of that, we are creating customers who not only come into buy from us but come to hang out because they enjoy being here.”
The trio retains an interest in the Carbondale store but it operates separately.