They say everything in life comes full circle, and in the case of Planet Bike’s new president Jeff Frehner, the path from leading one of the world’s largest bike companies to leading one of its smallest has been most gratifying.
And in Frehner’s case, he never had to leave his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, a cycling epicenter that includes Schwinn, GT, Mongoose, Trek, Bontrager, Gary Fisher and Saris.
“I started talking with Bob (Downs, Planet Bike’s founder) about advocacy several years ago,” Frehner told Bikeradar. “I’ve also appreciated his business model of contributing profits to advocacy groups like Thunderhead Alliance and Bikes Belong. He’s one of the reasons my former company and I started giving financial support to advocacy groups, and I joined the board at Bikes Belong.”
Frehner served as the President & CEO of the Cannondale Sports Group (CSG), a division of Dorel Industries, which owns Cannondale, Schwinn, Mongoose and GT Bicycles. Frehner left his position at CSG last September after working for Dorel’s Pacific Cycle since 2001, where he served as general counsel before becoming president after company founder Chris Hornung retired in 2006.
“I’ll enjoy the smallness and entrepreneurial nature of Planet Bike,” Frehner added. “It’s a funny thing, though; I led 1,500 at CSG, and I’m managing seven here at Planet Bike. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved in advocacy again. This is an ideal fit for both Bob and me.”
A longtime bicycle enthusiast and advocate, Frehner’s work on the board of Bikes Belong and as a member of Wisconsin’s National Bike Summit delegation reinforced his belief in the importance of supporting and empowering bicycle advocates to help make our cities and towns healthier and more sustainable.
Frehner has long respected Planet Bike’s mission to support grassroots bicycle advocacy and is committed to strengthening the company’s cause-based goals. He can share his newfound passion at this week’s National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, and event he’s attended for several years.
“For over a decade, Planet Bike has been proving that its distinctive business model can simultaneously generate positive change in our communities and have a successful bottom line,” Frehner said. “Planet Bike is perfectly and uniquely positioned to make the most of the world’s changing attitudes toward climate change, oil dependence, transportation and health.”
Company founder Bob Downs feels Frehner is the perfect person to help the company realize the next step in its evolution.
“Jeff is an authentic guy who shares our passion for bikes and our belief that the bicycle can be a part of making America and the world a healthier and happier place,” he said. Downs started Planet Bike in 1996, after eight years designing accessories for nearby Trek Bicycle.
Each year it has donated at least 25 percent of profits to causes that promote and facilitate the use of bicycles. Since its founding, Planet Bike has donated more than US$660,000 to the grassroots advocacy movement.
For more information, visit www.planetbike.com.