Major Softie wrote:melville wrote:Maybe Chuey can comment on what's happened in the last ten years or so, but Schwinn was the first Western bicycle company to source product in China (ca. 1990), and like they did with their previous Japanese and Taiwanese partners, they kept their own QC people on the floor. The end product was indistinguishable, quality-wise, from a similar level bike from Taiwan.
VW vendors I deal with nowadays say much the same--if you keep after the QC, you will get good product.
You are mistaken about the quality of the Chinese Schwinns. They gave up on the China partnership because the Chinese factory was unable to meet their quantity and quality requirements. (you can find Schwinn history here: http://re-cycle.com/History/Schwinn.aspx
Schwinn has now ceased to exist. Their name is now simply a badge put on department store imports. They went bankrupt in the 90's, and Scott bought them. They tried to be competitive for a while after that, but now, they are owned by "Pacific," and their model line doesn't seem to be in competition with anyone but Huffy. They made some really bad mistakes. Their history through the 70's, 80's, and 90's is now a textbook example for business classes all over the country on how to destroy a successful business.
I was there (working at a Schwinn dealer) for the beginning of the China business but went to another shop soon after. The first bikes were indistinguishable, quality wise, from similar level Taiwanese bikes. Then I had a gap of about 5 years before I was again employed in a Schwinn shop, time enough for their first bankruptcy and Sam Zell buying the name. I did not see as much China product then. I was briefly employed in a Schwinn shop in the fall of 2001, when they went bankrupt again, leading to their eventual acquisition by Pacific. In the fall of 2002 I gave a presentation in my Marketing class about the various failures of Schwinn. I got an "A!" Absolutely a textbook example--but nowadays pretty much everything we know as a "bike company" here is the US is using that Schwinn model. No factory, just a buncha sales and marketing guys in a cube farm.
I miss Gary Helfrich and his SOPWAMTOS--Society Of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit!