Putting in The Time
When I was 19 years old, if you told me that I would be designing fuel filtration systems after graduating I would not have been thrilled to continue my education in Mechanical Engineering. However, if you told 19-year-old Jeff that at 30 he would be designing, testing, and bringing to market innovative bicycle components for Cane Creek with a small group of like-minded engineers, a badass CNC machinist, and an extraordinary R&D team he would have been stoked!
Anyway, designing fuel filtration systems turned out to be pretty fun; I got to conceptualize, iterate, test, fail, fail again, learn, and eventually bring a product to market. While the widget was not that sexy, the process and learnings set me on a trajectory to land my dream job as a product designer in the bicycle industry.
After three years at the filtration gig I was newly married and we had enough money saved to either settle down in California’s dusty Central Valley, or to sell all of our possessions and take an extended honeymoon. It didn’t take much time at all to make up our minds, and we bought a quaint 3,500 square foot 5-3 home in the suburbs and lived happily ever after.
Just kidding, we quit our jobs, sold everything we didn’t need for our trip, loaded our bikes, boats, tents, and backpacks into our 2002 AstroVan, and hit the highway.
It was a great year; we spent 8 months traveling the states exploring numerous trails, rivers, and cities, followed by 4 months abroad trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and visiting Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
After our trip, we needed somewhere to live and an income source relatively quickly- no one wants to move back in with their parents. We hit the job market hard and focused on a few select locations in industries that offered us the lifestyle we wanted, and soon after moved to Asheville. Low and behold there was a Design Engineer position available at Cane Creek! I wrote an awesome cover letter, dialed in my resume, pestered the hiring manager, and didn’t even get a callback…
So back to the automotive industry, this time turbocharger development. Sexier than fuel filters yes, but it was still more of a job and less of a lifestyle. But I was putting in the time, honing my development skills, and constantly learning.
Fast forward another three years and I got word of another Design Engineer opportunity at Cane Creek. This time I wrote an even BETTER cover letter, made the resume shine, and landed an interview! I was pumped; the team was great, the environment was just what I was hoping it would be, and the position was start-to-finish hands on R&D- exactly what I was wanting to do.
After three months of pestering the hiring manager every week I got the job! I was so excited to jump right in and develop the next DB shock, or support and improve the newly launched Helm fork, or what?! They are developing a Titanium crank?! Awesome! I want to work on that!
Instead, I spent the first two months of my time at Cane Creek re-modeling and re-drawing all 39 eeBrake parts into Cane Creek’s file type and drawing format… not that sexy, but again, putting in the time. Soon, however, I got a seat at the eeWings development table, I had my hands on the inner workings of the Helm fork, and I started concept work for Cane Creek’s next shock – the DB Kitsuma.
Six years, two kids, and some major product launches later I am still here and as excited to be on the team as I was on my first day. Trying new things, failing, trying again, and failing again- but eventually releasing products that make my, and hopefully your, riding experience better. I’d say putting in the time was worth it.