From late '84 to late '94 I (Grant) designed and spec'd bicycles and worked on catalogues for the U.S. division of Bridgestone Cycle, Japan's largest bike maker. Bridgestone closed the U.S. office after ten years of no profit, when the dollar-to-yen exchange rate plummeted to the point where it became impossible to even break even. I was 40, and started Rivendell with $89,000, a mix of retirement money, savings, loans, and money raised by selling stock to friends.
True to the cliche, Rivendell was in my garage for two years. Now we have 5,000 square feet at about $0.90 per square foot, one of the cheaper rents in town. We like it here a lot. It's easy to get to, close to good food and riding, and it feels like home, except that summertime temperatures average 90F and are often over 100F, and winter days rarely get above 57F. We drive home this point before we hire anybody new. We've been profitable three of the past fifteen years, but cash flow is neutral. Sales are about $2.8 million dollars per year. We're just breaking even, there are no top-heavy salaries, and we fret a lot during slow weeks (and months). I do, at least.
Our mission is to make things that wouldn't be made if we weren't here, to offer an alternative to racing-centric bikes and parts, and to espouse a different approach to riding.