Name: Ben Berman
Business: 365 Cycles
Location: 466 West St., Keene
Ben Berman, Walpole resident, and owner of 365 Cycles of Keene, which offers mountain, road and fat bike components, accessories and apparel; Berman moved to his current location in the Kohl's Plaza three years ago. He ran the store himself for his first year, increasing to 18 employees operating the point brick-and-mortar store and online business in both Keene and at a second location in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which opened last year and is also the location of the distribution center. The Business Journal met with him recently to talk about his mission and recipe for success.
What was your original vision for your business?
My original goal for the business was to provide cycling service to customers regardless of where they live. We're a modern-day retailer. We understand customers want to walk into a store and physically touch things. Some customers don't want to drive a half-hour to Keene to get their product, and they want to order it online. Some customers want to do their research online, and we offer that. We let the customer decide where they want to shop, how they want to shop. If that's in your PJs at nine o'clock at night, that's fine. If it's in a suit in a store, that's fine too.
Was it a unique vision?
I think at the time that we started it was unique for bicycle shops to sell online. Now it's more common.
Was this a life-long vision to open a bike shop specifically?
My dad was in business he was younger and taught me everything he knew (when I was) a little boy, so I've always had a very good understanding of what makes a business turn. Somebody really successful one day told me if you have any chance of getting it right you have to do something you love. And so I've always been a huge endurance junkie, big into fitness, health — and I like to ride bikes so a bicycle shop seemed like a good option.
Is there a way you can quantify (in addition to your growing number of employees and additional location) how your business has grown over the past six years?
Yes, we've processed over half a million transactions.
What advice would you give a young entrepreneur for starting and maintaining a successful business?
I have four sisters, and one of them has a son. She asked me what the one thing would be I would tell him he needs to do to be successful in addition to loving Jesus, respecting authority, being kind and working hard. It's an interesting question. People see our success and ask, "What is it?" Really, there's no special ingredient — it's like one killer sauce where every ingredient just perfectly fits. But if I could give one piece of advice to anybody who wants to be successful at anything, whatever you determine that word success means, is ‘View life from their eyes, not yours.’
What do you enjoy most about your business?
I really enjoy the customers. I just relate very well. We cater to pretty much anybody. Our goal is to reach the active family. So kids' bikes, family bikes, it doesn't matter. If you're chasing the thrill of a mountain bike, the Sunday afternoon ride through the bike path or you're out for an endurance road ride — I can relate to every one of those people. Being able to relate to the customers is the most exciting thing because if something goes wrong, it's very easy to understand — your bike doesn't work and it's Saturday, I understand. That's frustrating. And we enjoy making that right for them.