By Jo Beckendorff
DEL MAR, Calif. (BRAIN) — With Uwe Kalliwoda, Benno Bikes founder and managing director Benno Baenziger has brought an experienced industry player into the team, who after an extensive career and two-year time-out, will become an actively involved partner.
Baenziger said Kalliwoda, a former Accell manager, will allow him to concentrate again on his domain of design and marketing: “With Uwe, I have a partner on board who, with his industry experience, will be able to actively help us in the sales, finance and supply chain sectors.”
Baenziger and Kalliwoda have known each other since 1993 when Baenziger made his debut at Eurobike as co-founder and managing director with his cruiser and mobility brand Electra (including Townie), which is now owned by Trek Bicycle. Next door, Kalliwoda exhibited as co-founder and CEO of the sporty brand Ghost Bikes, which is now part of the Accell Group.
After the sale of the Electra Bicycle Company in 2014 and a short break, Baenziger returned with Benno Bikes. He describes the products of his urban e-bike brand, founded in 2015, as follows: “Good ride, good looks and great cargo capability.”
Since terms like “utility bike” or “cargo bike” did not appeal to him, the native Swiss living in California created the term “Etility Bikes.”
“Add utility and agility to an e-bike – and you end up with Etility. Our Etility bikes are not unwieldy and heavy, but agile and sporty and still very useful in everyday life. They can carry much more than conventional bikes.”
After the sale of Ghost Bikes, co-founder and managing director Kalliwoda made a career with the brand’s new parent, Accell Group. From 2009 to 2011, he managed Ghost Bikes and the bicycle frame production facility Delta Metal Technology Ltd. in China, which was then part of the Accell Group. In 2012 he was promoted to president of Accell Asia in Taiwan. From 2017 until his departure from Accell in 2018, he was both Ghost and Delta Metal Technology Managing Director. Delta Metal was sold by the Accell Group in 2019.
Since 2017 Benno Bikes is also officially represented in Europe. The managing director of Benno Bikes Swiss GmbH, Samuel Weishaupt, is a distant relative of Baenziger. Weishaupt first established the brand in his home country Switzerland followed by Germany, Austria and Northern Italy. To enable growth outside Switzerland and especially in the EU, he and his team have set up a duty-free warehouse close to the border in Lustenau, Austria. With this in mind, several wholesalers and distribution partners in other EU countries have been won over for the young e-bike brand.
With the progressive brand poised for its next stage of growth, Baenziger no longer wants to run the business alone. According to him, the development of his former brand Electra has taught him that “from a certain point on, you can’t and shouldn’t do everything alone anymore”. In addition, as a designer he no longer feels comfortable having to deal with increasingly complicated financial and sales issues: “In order to be able to continue to focus on design and marketing, I need a sales and financial expert who has my back and whom I can trust. That’s why I’m thrilled to have won over my long-time friend Uwe Kalliwoda for this task.”
In view of the further expansion of the business in Europe, it will also be good to have Kalliwoda working out of his residence in Austria. Thus Baenziger himself will once again concentrate entirely on e-bike designs and the associated expansion of the modular add-on parts in his home in Del Mar, California.
Since the Etility Bike range can thus be tailored to the individual needs of the buyer, Baenziger and Kalliwoda, together with Weishaupt and Team, will continue to work with the IBD channel.