Brick Wheels sold after 48 years of family ownership | Business

TRAVERSE CITY — A call from his father in the mid-1970s brought Tim Brick into the bicycle business full-time.

While it’s been a great ride, Brick said its time for someone else to jump into the saddle.

Brick announced late last week he had sold the iconic Brick Wheels at 736 E. Eighth St. to Traverse City businessman Andy Weir, president of the Commonwealth Heritage Group and president of the board of trustees at The Pathfinder School.

Brick’s ‘retirement’ starts Wednesday, even though he will stay on as a consultant through June. A retirement party for “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” is scheduled for Feb. 26 from 1-4 pm at the store

“I’ve been at it a long time,” Brick said of his 46 years working full-time at the store his father, Robert J. Brick, opened in March of 1974. “It’s a young person’s sport. The young people that run it for me, it’s time they call the shots.”

Like Brick, Weir followed his father into a business that launched in 1988. Weir has worked for 30 years for the environmental compliance company, taking over as president in 2009 and moving the headquarters of the 17-office company to Traverse City five years ago. The move allowed Weir to combine community involvement with his interest in cycling, which began when he worked at Breakaway Bicycles and Fitness while a student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

“I wanted to get more involved in the community when I moved up here,” he said. “I’ve had a lifelong passion for cycling. I always wanted to own a bike shop.”

What Weir found with Brick Wheels was perfect.

“But I didn’t want to own any bike shop,” Weir said. “I wanted a successful one that had a great relationship with the community — and Tim has really done a great job of doing those things.”

Brick Wheels will continue to carry Trek and Cannondale bicycles. Weir said he looks to expand some of the businesses marketing, advertising and sponsorships in the community. But other than “a little freshening up,” Weir said there won’t be any major changes in the operation, which Brick said includes a 50 percent market share.

The shop’s name will remain.

“It’s known in the community and around the country,” Weir said. “I don’t see any reason why I would ever change the name.

“It’ll be the same Brick Wheels that everybody knows and loves. There may be some new ideas in there. That’s why I was so interested in Brick Wheels. It’s been successful, and why mess with success. , I wouldn’t have been interested in buying it.”

Robert Brick, Sr., an accountant for the Morgan McCool fruit processing company, opened Brick Wheels in March 1974 at the corner of Eighth Street and Garfield Avenue, according to a timeline put together by longtime office manager Kristi Messing. Tim Brick said his father originally wanted to open a restaurant, but was dissuaded by his sons in college, Bob Jr. and Tim.

Tim Brick said the price of gas jumped from 25 cents to $1 a gallon and the bicycle business took hold.

“Every hippie wanted to buy a bike and ride to Oregon and join a commune,” Tim Brick joked. “They bought the bike and they never left.”

Tim Brick, who played football at the University of Montana, had eyes on becoming a graduate assistant coach in March 1976 when his father called and told him the two people who ran the bike shop had left for other jobs.

So the son who started as “just a grunt” during summer breaks from college, returned in 1976 to take over the bike shop. Tim Brick said his father paid him $100 a week, which he eventually negotiated up despite his father telling him he was still living at home and eating his food.

Tim Brick bought the business from his father later in 1976 and never looked back.

“I grew up at the corner of State and Railroad and I made it three blocks,” Tim Brick joked.

Brick wasn’t the only employee who has been with the business for a long time. Messing has been working at Brick Wheels for 38 years. Office manager Betty Clement has 27 years on the clock.

“That says something right there, especially in retail, to have employees that have stayed that long,” Clement said.

“That’s a long time,” Messing said of her tenure. “Tim is a great guy to work for; he makes it pretty easy. It is a sad day, but it’s good for him.”

Shaun Quinn, co-owner of Bayfront Scooters on E. Front Street, echoed Messing.

“I’m really happy for Tim,” Quinn said. “He really built the bike business here.”

Tim Brick said it was easy to build a business that includes cross-country ski equipment because dealing with the many customers over the years never really felt like work.

“It’s been a great run,” he said. “People don’t come into Brick Wheels if they are mad unless the service department failed. They usually come into Brick Wheels because they want something to make themselves happy.”

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