Santa Cruz Bicycles sold to Pon Holdings

One of the best brands in the industry is acquired by Dutch holding company

Company headquarters in West Santa Cruz

Company headquarters in West Santa Cruz (click to enlarge).

Stunning news greeted us this morning as Santa Cruz Bicycles was acquired by Dutch company, Pon Holdings. This is certainly unsettling as ownership change can always signal a change in direction or core values. On the surface though, it seems like business as usual will prevail at the company as all management staff is retained and no corporate changes have been announced.

In the short term, what this means is owners Rob Roskopp and Rich Novak will become very rich men as this gives a liquidity event to a privately-held asset. Any stockholders in the company will get a portion of the acquisition price as well. The price paid for the company is undisclosed since Santa Cruz Bicycles is a privately owned company.

The floor is optimized for the assembly of bikes.

The floor is optimized for the assembly of bikes (click to enlarge).

Pon Holdings is massive company with 13,000 employees in many different fields including automotive. They are building a bicycle portfolio and now own the following companies: Santa Cruz, Juliana, Cervélo, Focus, Gazelle, Union, Kalkhoff, Univega, Rixe, BBB Cycling. This gives Santa Cruz Bicycles funds to grow and potential synergies with the other brands in terms of collaborating, distribution and manufacturing.

What does the future hold for Santa Cruz Bicycles? Will there be any change to one of our most revered brands? Our take is it will be business as usual for now and success earns the existing management team control. But since there are new owners, the original owners who have steered the company now answer to a different group and the direction of the ship can change with the times. One thing for sure is Santa Cruz can have a much bigger presence in Europe as they can now navigate the complex logistics and laws with ease.

The corporate headquarters showroom

The corporate headquarters showroom (click to enlarge).

Update: July 5, 2015 – Cervelo Parallel

It is hard to predict what the future holds for the iconic Santa Cruz brand. But this event introduces a hint of uncertainty about the company’s future. Very little will change in the short term but new, overseas owners always spells a different, mid-term and long-term path for the company. Companies always have the best intentions during a buyout but the true test is the state of the company after a few years. Where will the company be in two years? What about five?

The key questions are: Will the new owners be hands-off and patient with the company’s direction and management? And will the Santa Cruz founders and key management stay with the company?

On the upside, the new owners, Pon Holdings is a well-funded, privately held, family run organization. This is ideal as it will be a stable group not pulled in many different directions by a board of investors. They can stay the course and allow the company more freedom to succeed. Their capital and industry affiliations will allow Santa Cruz to grow as well. Entering the global marketplace is a daunting task with the maze of rules and regulations. Having the backing and experience of Pon Holdings will help Santa Cruz expand.

A very similar acquisition was done by Pon Holdings when they acquired Cervelo in late 2012. Cervelo was a highly revered, R&D based brand with strengths in the Road and Triathlon categories. They also had an impressive racing presence, sponsoring powerful Tour de France teams every year. The founders Phil White and Gerard Vroomen had very similar visions of accessing the capital and experience of Pon Holdings.

An insightful interview of Phil White was done by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News shortly after the acquisition. Read Cervélo’s White: We can grow by delivering.

Phil White is answering questions at 2012 Eurobike.

Phil White is answering questions at 2012 Eurobike (click to enlarge).

Fast forward to today and Cervelo is a different company now. Gerard Vroomen is now longer with the company as he is now involved with smaller companies (Open and 3T). Phil White has taken on a different role Pon Holdings as he is now overseeing other companies in the bike portfolio. Cervelo is no longer a sponsor of Garmin Slipstream team and is now involved with a smaller, South African based team called MTN-Qhubeka.

This is certainly no indicator for what will happen to Santa Cruz but it does illustrate the shift when the company has different owners and when the founders are no longer invested in the brand.

For a tour of the the company headquarters, check HERE

Continue to page 2 for the official press release by PON Holdings »

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • eastcoastpally says:

    Very sad news.

    Here come the press fit BBs…

  • K. Fritz Lehr says:

    Sad day, I have bought Santa Cruz bikes for years, mainly because they are great bikes and made in the USA. Of course, the carbon frames were not made here, just assembled here. Nothing against the Dutch or Pon, but I will probably look elsewhere for my next bike.

  • Dave Bro says:

    Maybe the Santa Cruz bigots will stop referring to it as a “boutique” brand now…

  • Jeff says:

    Might as well have sold out to Dorel… end of the line for Santa Cruz.Hopefully they fall out of the spot light as peacefully and gracefully as Canondale and not become as much of a crap company as Schwinn or Huffy.

  • Robert says:

    I do not think this will hurt Santa Cruz or “gut the brand”. If anything it will give them access to even better manufacturing and possibly better delivery. Cervelo became a better brand that continues to innovate and now has better customer service from what I hear.

  • ljsmith says:

    Has any bike company gotten better after being bought out? I can’t think of one.

    • hellbelly says:

      At best case, a company gets absorbed ala Bontrager and becomes something different. Worst case they disappear like Klein. I was a huge SC fanboy having owned 5 different bikes from them since ’99. I jumped ship last year and went with a Banshee, a company that ironically reminds of how the early SC used to be. SC’s exponential price increases at the top end just don’t cut it for me. I have demoed two different $10K + rigs from them and while they were good they weren’t nearly as mind-blowing as their prices would dictate. I haven’t looked back.

  • paul sadoff says:

    I am not worried about the products. I am worried about the employees. There’s a heck of a lot of excellent people there and buyouts like this don’t usually mean good news for the staff. I really hope that I am wrong.

  • Santa Cluez says:

    Santa Cruz had been getting kind of sheet-tay lately anyhoo…so no biggy.

  • Elmer Fudd says:

    Not a problem at all. In fact, Santa Cruz Bicycles will have the bankroll now to expand to other continents in a big way. Nothing has changed as far as staffing, and quality is still the same. Pon is not going to F-up a good thing. Other bike brands should watch out overseas.

  • jonshonda says:

    Santa Cruz is an American success story. Starting with nothing and built a legendary company. Maybe the owners will stay on as consultants? It will be interesting to follow them to see what the next project is. Negative comment would be that 9 times out of 10, being acquired by a “Trading Company” usually means someone is looking to make money.

    I see Santa Cruz loosing a lot of loyal and potential customers because of this. It is interesting the owners didn’t make a statement prior to this news breaking. Shame.

  • SC Local says:

    With this move it means to a lot of jobs are going to be lost here in SC. They build up all the bikes here but that will surely be done overseas now. The price of the bike will remain the same but the profits will be better for the new out of town owners. Sad day for the employees.

  • BayAreaMTN says:

    Sad day…there is another Santa Cruz bike company though. IBIS 🙂

  • Stan says:

    This will be great for all involved…humored by the doom and gloom soothsayers…
    Cervelo has been improved since the buyout…better inventory pricing and mgmt.
    Pon stays clear…all good.

  • Corth says:

    Isn’t that the business model today? Build a brand and then sell it to deep pocket investors. Retire to the Cote d’Azur. It’s sad to the the brand’s dynamics change, but can you blame Santa Cruz’s owners for selling?

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