It’s crazy to think that it’s been 10 years since SILCA.cc went live. Our team wanted me to share some photos from the beginning of the company and that trip down memory lane has now practically turned into a photo dump! What an amazing ride it’s been and I’m so thrilled to imagine the next 10 years!!
Here we are on day 1. Most people don’t realize the actual situation at the beginning of SILCA USA.. the original company, founded in Milan in 1917, was in the throes of a government receivership (bankruptcy) in Italy and the owner, Claudio, had been trying desperately to sell it for the prior year. By the time we got there, there were no physical assets of the company left, only the Trademark, which we purchased and signed documents for 7 days before Claudio passed from Pancreatic Cancer. So day 1, I had an old MacBook plus a new PC I bought in order to run CAD and Quickbooks accounting software.
My daughter was 8 and she LOVED the idea of helping with the company.. the company was run from this little table in the living room and she would sit with me and do her homework every day after school.
If you supported SILCA in those early months, you were buying spare gaskets, leathers, or chucks. Every chuck was hand assembled by our family on the little table. As a result, we banned all PFAS chemicals and coatings, will only specify lead free brass, and all assembly lubricants are organic and food safe, these are aspects of the company that are still key to our operations to this day. If you're wondering, they would push the gaskets into the chuck heads and I'd screw it all together using the leather glove as tightening thousands of these just shredded your hands!
While we assembled small parts to generate some cashflow in the business, we needed actual pumps to move forward. These are the 2 prototype Ultimate pumps with various gauge designs, not the base, which felt very SILCA in it's design but I didn't think it was stable enough and re-designed it.
By Spring 2014 we had expanded into the other side of the living room to make a little shipping station. A laptop on the floor and a UPS printer kept things moving. By summer 2014 we had 2 big problems. We had our first international distributors placing large orders which would completely fill the house, and we had started production on subcomponents for the Ultimate Pump, but had nowhere to assemble them!
Day 1 in our first SILCA building. What had overwhelmed the house was pretty much nothing in this 4,000 square foot space, though now we had rent, and utilities, and insurance to pay, AND I needed some employees!!
By August 2014 we had 3 full time employees (plus kids ;-), we were making and shipping Ultimate pumps which led to:
Our first Interbike where we became the first accessory product to win the 'Product of the Year' award (the year prior it was won by DuraAce Di2 so pretty good company). We didn't even know about the award show, so imagine my surprise when Zap Espinoza came and grabbed me as we were leaving the show and walked me into this giant ball room full of industry people where I was brought on stage and handed this award by my childhood hero Greg Lemond and my dear friend (and life hero) Michellie Jones! Unvelievable!!
The next few years were a real blur, as we reintroduced frame pumps, the Hiro Chuck and began moving into tools. We won another Interbike Product of hte Year award in 2016 (for the Tattico) and would win another 42 product and design awards internationally. We were even featured on the show 'How it's Made' who came to the shop from the UK for a day of filming!!
I cannot underestimate the importance of partnerships and the cycling industry through these years. There were times that it felt like so many people wanted to work with us that we could hardly keep it all straight! I got to work with so many of my industry heros like Richard Sachs, Speedvagen, Baum, Festka and others, while also getting to work with young talented builders who were just getting started!
Within 3 years that building that felt so huge compared to the living room was so overwhelmed that the employees named it 'Fort Inventory'
Five years ago we moved into our current space, here's a then vs now look at the manufacturing and warehouse space. 12,000 square feet felt like a lot at the time, but we now have SILCA 2 warehousing a few blocks away as well as warehouses in Toronto, Rotterdam, and soon to be the UK and Hong Kong.
I'll be following this post up with 2 more, the people of SILCA, and the machines and equipment of SILCA for those who are interested.
In the mean time, thanks for an amazing 10 years!