8/21/2014

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Business

Bike Gallery chain transitions to new owners

Bike Gallery chain transitions to new owners
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After 39 years turning wrenches, Portland bike industry icon Jay Graves has decided to sell the Bike Gallery, a company started by his father in 1974.

The new owners: Mike Olson of San Diego, Calif.-based Trek Bicycle Superstore and Bike Gallery employee Kelly Aicher.

It will continue to operate under the Bike Gallery name.

"I am very excited," said Graves, 54, who plans to take a year off before continuing the bicycle advocacy for which he's become known.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. It's scheduled to close Friday.

Bike Gallery, which Bicycling.com recently named one of Portland's top bike shops, will operate as a newly formed company with Olson and Aicher each holding equity stakes.

Aicher will serve as general manager of Bike Gallery's six stores.

Trek Bicycle Superstore is a Trek dealer and licenses the Trek name. It is also family owned. It operates four stores in San Diego and one in Albuquerque, N.M.

Customers shouldn't notice many changes. Next Saturday Bike Gallery will open its seventh location, a store in Clackamas.

The investment bankers who worked on the deal said it was important for Graves to find a buyer who shared his values. They said Olson and Aicher fit the bill.

Bike Gallery is "more than a (profit and loss) statement," said David Howitt, president of Meriwether Group, the Portland firm that worked on the deal. "It's a brand and it's important to the community."

Bill Nootenboom, a partner at Meriwether Group, described it as more of a “transition than a transaction.”

Bike Gallery’s growth has coincided with Portland becoming arguably the country’s most bike-friendly city.

Bob Graves, Jay's father, started Bike Gallery in 1974.

At the time, he sold group health insurance for a predecessor company to Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. Graves worked alongside his father for 23 years and is now the sole owner of the business. He started working at Bike Gallery when he was 15.

He's a central figure in Oregon's robust cycling community.

Graves is afounding board member of Cycle Oregon. Bike Gallery has provided mechanical assistance for riders in the long-distance bike ride for each of its 25 years. As part of the company's sale, Graves negotiated that Bike Gallery will continue in that role.

Graves also served for more than a decade as a board member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, helping the organization get off the ground by funding its first mailing campaigns. He and Bike Gallery have also been involved with the nonprofit Community Cycling Center, which has given bikes to thousands of children.

He also served as the president of the National Bicycle Dealers Association after 16 years on the company's board.

Graves began his succession plan three years ago.

"It's a big step and I've had to work through that process."

He said the deal is not related to the upcoming fiscal cliff, which will hike capital gains taxes by 5 percentage points.

Investment bankers expect the capital gains hike to spark a flurry of deals before the end of the year. There have already been several.
 

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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