“He would be talking with bike shop owners or industry people. Mark has this voice for radio, happy and cheery. He was always in a good mood,” Dwight recalled.
“As I look back at it, it was fun to be part of this new thing. I didn’t understand what Mark and Barry had conceptualized and what they were going to create but especially in hindsight I have a ton of respect for what they did.”
Slow & steady growth
Seven people, including Graff, eventually worked out of that basement, mostly on building the cycling catalog and long-form educational content, before opening
Meanwhile, Brenner was also hiring the firm’s first staff of software developers and secured their first California office space on the second level of a strip mall in Ventura. On Graff’s first visit to that
Several of SmartEtailing’s hires came right out of bike retail and from industry connections. Graff noted, however, that they were always sensitive to not actively recruit staff from retailer clients where hiring and retention can be extra tough.
Recruiting brave souls
Happily, the firm actually was approached by some of its earliest clients to recommend certain store staff for their next career opportunities. The first of these came from Penn Cycle and many others would follow.
Industry friends also helped, such as when Graff’s former Catalyst co-worker Ray Keener helped bring cycling author Jim Langley to the team. Langley had been
One of the early retail recruits was Chip Kelsey, who is still at the company today. Kelsey worked at Plano Cycling in Texas for 11 years before coming to SmartEtailing. He celebrated 18 years at SmartEtailing in December 2018.
Kelsey, who worked on Plano’s website, sent in his resume shortly after sitting through a presentation at SmartEtailing’s first formal Interbike.
“It was the right position at the right time. It was a really good fit for me. I was really enjoying doing web work. I contacted Mark and they needed someone to do content. I had good writing skills and a lot of experience in the bike industry,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey invested in ongoing learning and is now a member of the company’s team of in-house web developers, with a
Eighteen years is a long time to be employed at one company, but Kelsey doesn’t see an end in sight. “I really like our mission of helping small bicycle retailers,” Kelsey said. “I’ve been treated really well and we’ve got a really good culture.”
Stayed tuned for part 5 in the series about the software’s evolution.