Ritchey - about the company

 Tom Ritchey, the founder of Ritchey Design, Inc. has for the last
several years applied himself to the re-design, sometimes re-
invention of specific component parts used on bicycles. With his
design, manufacturers are contacted to establish their
willingness to manufacture on another's behalf, once their
capabilities in workmanship and quality control have been
established. In some instances Mr. Ritchey actually gets involved
in instructing the factory on how to achieve the quality of work
he desires. With the relationship to a manufacturer established,
Mr. Ritchey contracts for products to be manufactured bearing his
name. In some instances, Ritchey Design, Inc. contracts for, and
imports the goods for themselves to sell to stores, but more
frequently a group of importer/distributors supplies the money
for the goods through a letter of credit, with Ritchey Designs
brokering the transaction between the factory and the
importer/distributor. The reason Ritchey products are so
generally available is because these importer/distributors order
different products, in different quantities, and each of them has a
different rate of sale on the goods. So, in general, retailers have
always got at least one source among many to actually draw

 This diversity and complexity in the distribution chain has
led to relative inventory stability and propelled Ritchey products
growth in market share tremendously in the last few years. To be
fair about it, both Tioga and Panaracer tires are distributed in
the same way, but the number of importer/distributors is smaller
because Ritchey permits companies who use their parts as
original equipment on bicycles, to also be a part of this
distribution group.
  The biggest benefit of this style of distribution is that retail
prices can be competitive. Where a single company imports and
distributes solely their own brand of bicycle goods, there has
been a tendency to "price fix" in spirit if not fact. Generally when
the single source company finds some stores competitively
pricing because they may buy bigger quantities and gain a more
competitive cost basis, or a smaller store may have smaller fixed
expenses so they can afford to sell the bicycle goods for less
than their competitors, the price coercion policy begins. When
some of these sole importer/distributors have seen what they
believe to be too competitive pricing, they have started issuing
"price lists" instructing retailers what the "minimum" retail
price will be on a country or world wide basis. If the retailer or
mail order concern fails to abide by their pricing, future sales
and shipments to that retail organization cease.

 At this time we won't mention the names of these single source
distributors, but when you see our price within a few cents of a
local store or one of our mail order competitors you can pretty
much be assured that the "price law" has been laid down on that
single source company's goods. This pricing behavior stifles
competition, subverts the free market, and puts an un-necessary
tax on the purchaser of these goods, because the purchaser (consumer)
is obligated to pay more than they may have had to otherwise. When
the consumer is forced to pay more, they are being denied the
possibility of either buying more bike parts for the same money
or spending the surplus on something else meaningful in your life.

 Legally these organizations have found a loophole in what we all
thought was the repeal of "fair trade" laws. Only the consumer is
hurt, while the importer/distributor and the retailer who
conspire without speaking to charge a higher regulated price. We
find the practice distasteful and would hope that an FTC attorney
would look into it. 

 Again, Ritchey is not among this group in any way, and their
style of doing business would at this time make such practice
impossible. Ritchey has their tires made in both Japan and
Taiwan. The Japanese maker is IRC (Inouye Rubber Company),
while the Taiwan maker is Cheng Shin. Both companies have good
reputations as tire maker in their respective lands. Ritchey had
the first tires which introduced a softer rubber compound for the
mountain racing market. This "low-density rubber" used for their
tread stock they call "WCS" or World Championship Series". The
WCS rubber is used on some of their tire models and is available
in a Black or Red colored tread.
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