Business Profile: Willem Sytsma

Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Job title and company: Owner, Hampshire Bicycle Exchange, 65 University Drive, Amherst

Age: 31.6

When did you start your new job? Oct. 1, 2013

Your duties: Buying & selling new and used bikes, hiring & payroll, accounting, customer service

How did you start your business? I worked as a mechanic at Hampshire Bicycle Exchange for four years, became a manager and then was offered first chance to buy the business.

What’s most challenging about your work? Learning to budget spending during the slow season.

What do you like about it? First, dealing with customers, helping them find or fix their bicycles. Also the challenge and responsibility of decision-making for he business, and the potential of making improvements to the business.

What is your key to success? Guaranteeing customer satisfaction. Working efficiently, yet treating everyone’s bicycle like it’s your own.

Did your business add or lose any employee positions in 2013? Every year we have seasonal positions (about three extra mechanics during summer). No change expected overall.

What role does technology play in your business? We used Google Docs all over the place: Keeping track of repairs, bicycle inventory. We also have a website that shows our full inventory of new and used bicycles.

Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? The Valley is a rich environment for cyclists. It hosts ideal locations for all biking styles. From excellent bike paths to winding roads and technical mountain trails, the Valley has it all. To boot, there are hundreds of new cyclists arriving each year.

What has surprised you most about your new or expanded business endeavor? How quickly the time goes by, even in the slow season. More surprises to come, I’m sure.

Name a few of your goals for the coming year: 1) Employing a point-of-sale system, or having a register (to streamline record keeping). 2) Starting a customer/employee blog to review bikes/products. 3) Hosting shop rides (road and mountain). 4) Getting an espresso machine for the shop.

Tell us a little-known fact about you: If you listen you might hear live music coming from the back of the shop.

What is your advice for others seeking business success: So far, being nice has worked. I’ll let you know in a year.