A catamount catastrophe
Why you don't need permission to do the right thing
The University of Vermont cycling team packed and shipped their bikes on a Saturday. There was a palpable anticipation in the Burlington FedEx office. The Catamounts had won the Eastern Regional Championships and were heading to the 2018 Collegiate National Championships in Missoula, Montana.
The bikes were scheduled to arrive on a Wednesday, which would give the racers plenty of time to get them built, checked, and ready to ride.
But on Thursday, when the team had already journeyed 2300 miles to Missoula, FedEx got in touch. The truck carrying their bikes had caught fire. The bikes were destroyed.
Trek Customer Care Rep Jed Gunn took the call from the team at 5pm CST in Waterloo, Wisconsin. A group of college kids he’d never met needed help. Fast.
Without checking with anybody, Jed got to work on the logistics. It was too late for the Wisconsin and New Jersey warehouses to ship anything, so he called the California warehouse. Eight bikes needed to be in Missoula, Montana, the next day. He shipped them.
Then he called the local Missoula retailer, Open Road Bicycles. It’s a tough task for any bike shop to build eight bikes on arrival with almost no notice. Jed made the case. The shop said, “Let’s do this.”
The Catamounts raced to an impressive 3rd place at Nationals in Missoula in 2018. Maybe the conditions were perfect for them, or maybe it was the adrenaline caused by the last-minute chaos. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t have happened if not for the Customer Care Rep who knew he didn’t need his manager’s permission to do the right thing.
VeloNews and Bicycling Magazine got wind of the story and published articles about Trek’s hospitality, which were read by thousands. Sure, the press was nice. But that’s not why Jed, the West Coast Warehouse, and Open Road Bicycles did the right thing. They did it because that’s the Trek way.