Being Frank: Our DNA

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

Successful organizations, whether they be company, sports team, or military unit, have a DNA that permeates every aspect of their attitude and behavior. That DNA is critical for several reasons. First, that DNA is the playbook for their operational success. It instructs what to do and how to do it. Second, that DNA enables new members to be quickly and properly integrated. Third, that DNA ensures consistency and continuity of the organization over time.

In a perfect world an organization begins with defining and memorializing its DNA when it is established. But in the real world the DNA may not be explicitly identified at the beginning. Sometimes, a group of like-minded individuals combines to work towards a goal and through that process their DNA emerges. One could argue which route is better, but the important factor is that the DNA forms the blueprint for success as the organization has defined it.

I don’t know if Dia-Compe had identified its DNA back in 1974 when it built a factory here in Fletcher, North Carolina. Nor do I know if the DNA had been explicit when Dia-Compe morphed into Cane Creek in the early nineties. But I do know that when I began as a product manager in 1992, Dia-Compe/Cane Creek and its products clearly contained certain redeeming traits. Those traits, and a likeable professionalism of their OEM salesman Peter Gilbert, caused me to spec several of their products on my bikes.

The traits I found appealing were their relative uniqueness, good quality, and notable performance. The 987 cantilever brake exemplifies those traits. If you are not familiar with the 987 but desire to become very familiar, go here: I had a vision developing for our 1994 MTB line that was based on choosing parts that delivered function and lightweight in unique and unconventional combinations. So 987 brakes, Hugi star-ratchet (to become DT) hubs, and Manitou forks were the direction I took versus the straight Shimano XT and Rock Shox Judy approach that GT and other top brands at the time took.

Over the years Cane Creek’s products evolved and those traits got tweaked and solidified as a clearer understanding of the organization’s abilities and desires crystallized. So, a few years ago when we started discussing what our DNA was or should be, we did not have to think hard or make anything up. We just looked to our product history and identified clear patterns. “This is what we are about, we just have not put it into words” is what we said. Those words are Authenticity, Craftsmanship, and Alternative — they are the DNA of Cane Creek.

For us Authenticity is about doing what we want to do, the way we want to do it, and being honest about it – not just honest with you but honest with ourselves. It’s dangerous to think we are always right, the most passionate, or the hardest working. A major portion of the premise of these Being Frank blogs is to share our imperfections and hopefully provide you a better understanding of what we are about.

We believe in how something is constructed. Sure, function and performance are critical, but they don’t always require simplicity, attention-to-detail, beauty, serviceability, or longevity. Craftsmanship does. We strive to ensure craftsmanship in our products. Sometimes it costs us more, and the ROI is not there, but we do it anyway because we believe it is important in the long run.

We are not the biggest and don’t strive to be. We don’t try to be everything to everybody. Our How (or mission statement) is “to deliver mainstream-alternative products that provide a unique combination of design, quality, and performance to discerning cyclists in a profitable and sustainable manner.” We do not try please the masses or be the most popular. We believe that in this world of nearly 8 billion people there are enough out there that our Alternative approach will resonate with. And if you are reading this, you are likely one of the ones we do strive to please. We believe there are enough of you, and if we stay true to our DNA, Cane Creek will continue developing products for many years to come.