A look inside this Arkansas machine shop reveals how BBInfinite's co-owners started the company and how they successfully marketed their product - a specially designed bicycle bottom bracket - on their own. This video includes Wes Wolfenbarger and Gary Mailhiot describing what sparked the idea for this unique bike part and how they went from the development of it to becoming an international company that produces over 100 different variations of the part. Massive thanks to Lori and the crew over at @ProductionMachining for coming out the Little Rock to shine a light on American manufacturing. Amazing job, guys!
Hi, I'm Lori Beckman with Production Machining I'm here in Little Rock, Arkansas. Home of BBInfinite, a startup company that makes this bottom bracket for high-end bicycles. Let's go talk to them about what makes this part special and how they became an international company hi I'm Wes Wolfenbarger I'm the co-owner and CEO of BB infinite I'm Gary Myatt I'm the product manager for BBInfinite and we're here at our production facility in North Little Rock Arkansas BBInfinite started out as a solution to Common problem with bicycle bottom brackets and a bottom bracket is the bearing housing that goes into your bicycle that the crank set then journals to whenever the crank is turning the bottom bracket is in play the bottom bracket bearings are turning but he was really disappointed because the interface where you put that crank it was just two really cheap disposable plastic cups and he was like let's see if we can just make something that's just nicer so what we did is we figured out what those Dimensions should be we had a working prototype and we put it in the bicycle frame and then we put the crank into the bottom bracket just roll right into it that was the Genesis the birth of BBInfinite and of course at that time we were using contract machine shops to do our work for us we had very few product offerings at the time so it made it easy the biggest challenge is that prompted us to start manufacturing were really two things quality control and lead time we have to be able to Pivot very quickly that's the biggest thing and then that was the what really made us prompted us to do it and then we realized afterward and we're producing it ourselves we could make it much better quality we can use the diamond tools you can sit out there and fine-tune the same program you know run after run after run after run because you're doing all the you're repeatedly doing them you're not making a thousand and then you're done with my background as a mechanical engineer and just working in a few machine shops in my career I felt very comfortable at that time basically taking on that risk of going and buying a machine and figuring it out the way our processes today is grown in is so much different than what it was when we started the bottom bracket design in itself isn't really complicated it's really I always tell people I'm an integrator I'm kind of a middleman between a bicycle frame and then there's people who make the cranks so I just need to understand how those different stances are arranged in the frame relative to one another I do all of this in SolidWorks and inside of that I have another tool called camworks generates three byproducts one I create my inspection for my CMM on my Renishaw. I can create that tool program so now I have an inspection I also make a 2d print and then the final thing is I actually have the tool paths the G-Code the hard x and z coordinates once that's done I go out to the CNC machine and run off a few prototypes we might make some tweaks but at the end of the day most the coding is done we then put it in a protective box and we mail it to an anodizer and they do an anodic process on That Metal they dye that we get a black or a red they seal it and it comes back to us any blemish products that didn't meet the QC spec and we take those and we use those and we set up our laser artwork so what we do is we hold the part on a circular Chuck a rotary it can spin it around 360 and we have all of our logos and everything on artboard and we basically lay out all of our artwork and a QR code on that bottom bracket and if things are going really good that'll be on the Shelf in a fulfillment room when an order comes in for that we grab that package off the shelf and it gets put into a simple box and it makes it to you the customer at the end of the day and it really could be done you know if the anodizing process was like just overnight I mean it could literally be done in like four hours or less if we know the dimensions we concentrated very heavily on marketing because we understood the importance of it we were really just going after the road of the road bike people because that's the products we were offering and it was really only Cervelo and Specialized, so it simplified it we just had to Market just push to those people and that was really important for us is to be able to be on a very narrow focus with our marketing because we had a very narrow focus with our product our videos especially cover a lot of our technical questions because the bottom bracket issue is extraordinarily esoteric very difficult to you know find specific information so by being that and then we share it with people doing our videos and our videos that are educating people are also have a marketing aspect we bring them in educate them because a lot of our sales is like a very educational process because we're direct to Consumer we want to provide all of these resources so people have this huge body of knowledge so they can go in to do something that can be very scary you know but to see me on the video doing it it's like pop up yeah that's the way it is don't worry about it click specific marketing know where your people are uh do you know do your own videos get on camera do what you have to do this is your life and you've got to fight for it and that's just how it is or the most valuable advice that's probably a cliche at this point but it's always fail fast don't waste unnecessary dollars don't waste any unnecessary time learning that it's maybe not a product somebody wants the reason that our company was able to start we had a failed business like we realized it was not going to work and we had invested a lot of our time and energy and money into that already but if I was just hanging on to it then when this new opportunity came up instead of just being able to Pivot you take those Lessons Learned and just apply it to maybe a better idea you're going to get told Noah a lot and you only get that feedback by getting out in front of potential clients you've got to get out in front of people just don't get caught in a rut like this is my thing and I'm never gonna let it go. The real the thing on the horizon for BBInfinite is we have new products that we need to launch because as the industry changes, we have to change with the industry. So, we're always rolling out new products and we really aren't thinking about branching out at anything different because you know this is our core competence. We're going to be the best we can at this rather than diversifying our product line we make bottom brackets in the United States - in Arkansas specifically we make them here and that's we're going to be the best at.
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