If you have ever purchased a bicycle, bicycle parts, or accessories online, it is highly possible that the order was processed by Cycle Force Group in Ames, Iowa. Founded in 1998, Cycle Force Group (CF) is a national distributor of bicycles, parts, accessories and so much more.
As of January 1, 2022, Cycle Force Group was purchased by Messingschlager GmbH, Europe’s leading supplier of bicycle parts and accessories. That acquisition established Messingschlager USA LLC (dba Cycle Force), headquartered in Ames. CF is now positioned to better compete in the United States cycling world with new European brands that will soon be part of the CF portfolio.
In 1998, the company was founded by Nyle Nims and Sue Cunningham in eastern Long Island. Like many small companies, the center of operations during the early years of the company was at a kitchen table. Their first customer was Sears & Roebuck whom they had a solid relationship with at their former company. That buyer left and went to an unknown company at the time, and asked Nyle and Sue if they would sell him bicycles, another unknown category for them. That unknown company was Amazon and began a decades long relationship as they continue to be their number one customer.
As the internet boomed, they expanded their distribution further online. Increased orders required additional shipping, and Nims and Cunningham quickly saw the challenges of shipping from the east coast to west coast. They eventually made the decision to relocate their company to Ames.
Nims is an Ames native and got his early entrepreneurial education from his father Daryl. Nims’ Sportsman was founded in 1951 and was a Downtown Ames staple, selling a wide assortment of sporting goods. In 1969, the business expanded beyond hunting and fishing to include Schwinn bicycles. The father/son team traveled Europe in search of manufacturing partners. Eventually, Nyle Nims went onto become president of Ross Bicycles, one of the largest bicycle companies in the United States before eventually starting CFG with Cunningham, who began her cycling career at Ross in New York.
With the recent acquisition by Messingschlager, Pat Cunnane was announced as the new Chief Executive Officer in November 2022, with Nims, Cunningham and Nyle’s three children, Matt, Chris, and Elizabeth, focusing on the operations in Ames. Cunnane is a recognized leader in the bicycle industry with decades of CEO experience.
Cycle Force Group offers a range of products that includes entry-level bikes for children, and most recently e-bikes. One of the areas they have always been interested in is high-end performance bicycles. Cycling is an international sport that is incredibly popular in Europe. It was recently announced that North America Cycles (a division of Cycle Force handling the independent bicycle dealer network) was awarded the exclusive U.S. distributor of a line of KTM Bicycles, a premium global cycling brand from Austria.
When thinking of bicycle companies in Ames, CF may not be one that immediately comes to mind. They have never been a public-facing company with a showroom for customers, yet their revenue is annually eight-figures. The customer base includes e-commerce fulfillment, big-box retail, independent bicycle retailers, large multi-sport retailers, consumer direct, premium, and promotional clients.
Through the years, the CF business model has evolved as quickly as the internet has. Just like Nyle followed his father, CF has grown into the next generation with his children. Matt Nims is tasked with sales and marketing, Chris Nims with navigating an ever-changing e-commerce market, and Elizabeth Brink with order fulfillment. They make up the CF management team along with Nyle and Sue who all report to Pat.
In 2020, CF experienced an influx in orders due to the pandemic when normal life shifted to activities at home and outdoors. During that time, they were processing over 3,000 orders a day and in April 2020, the company saw more than 40,000 orders. That year, they processed approximately half a million orders in all.
They are currently in the next evolution of bicycles: e-bikes. For a company that handled half a million orders, the move to e-bikes means less orders, but at higher prices and more complicated shipping, allowing the company to maintain the same revenue. One of their premier bicycle brands is HEAD, famous for gold medals in ski & grand slam titles in tennis. Known for cutting-edge design, engineering excellence and a passion for championing all sport, everywhere.
Whatever is next in bicycles, Messingschlager USA, dba Cycle Force, will be ready with the infrastructure they have in place. Growth has been in their DNA for almost 25 years and will continue to turn their wheels year after year allowing their employees the opportunity to flourish working in Ames, Iowa.
Cycle Force is located at 2105 SE 5th Street in Ames, Iowa
Ashley Redeker is the owner of Modern Dress, a bridal and boutique store in downtown Boone. Modern Dress celebrated 10 years in August 2022 and is one of the premier bridal stores in Central Iowa.
“I’ve always been interested in the bridal industry,” said Redeker when she presented at 1 Million Cups Ames in October. In high school, she worked at the bridal store that she eventually bought, but she did not jump into being an entrepreneur right away. After graduating from college, she worked for a production company that required a lot of travel. Although she enjoyed the experience, she ultimately wanted a career in Boone and purchased the bridal store.
Redeker understood early on that businesses evolve over time, so she rebranded the business Modern Dress to be able to include a diverse range of dress options. “I always had the vision that we would expand beyond bridal dresses, and I wanted the name to allow for that from the beginning.” Today, the business includes a full range of bridal and bridesmaid dresses, while also being a vibrant boutique store.
“The experience is really important to me and has been from the beginning. We are not high-pressure. We want people to make good decisions, feel good about it, and have it be a fun experience.” As a result, Redeker and her team of ten employees places an emphasis on quality over quantity of sales.
Part of that experience includes leveraging excitement through social media. The purchase of a wedding dress is a buzz-worthy moment for a bride with her family and friends. When a dress is purchased, each bride takes a picture at Modern Dress (without the dress, of course) and this Instagram post launches the celebration online.
On the boutique side of Modern Dress, Redeker and members of her team go live on Facebook each Wednesday as a way to build community and promote what is available on their Shopify store. Moving online was a pivot that Redeker had to embrace for Modern Dress in 2020 as the pandemic impacted the entire retail industry. Each week, with a casual drink in hand, her team goes live and uses it to reach potential customers. As a result, Redeker has become an incredible fashion resource for not only Boone, but beyond.
Modern Dress is located at 701 Story Street in Boone.
Nearly every night, you’ll find Della Viti, the Downtown Ames wine bar, full of both seasoned and novice wine connoisseurs. By its nature, understanding wine can be a bit complicated. Since 2014, owner Beth DeVries has made it her purpose to make wine accessible to understand and enjoy. As a result, she has built a loyal customer base for her business that is continuing to expand.
DeVries’ path to wine is not traditional. In fact, she admits that she knew very little about wine when she took over Della Viti. She is a trained research scientist with a degree in genetics from Iowa State University. For 13 years, she worked in product development of proteins and helped scale her research for business application. She was laid off during a corporate restructuring in 2013, which eventually launched her ownership in Della Viti. Today, she takes her scientific background and applies it to wine.
Della Viti is a self-service wine bar, an anomaly in the hospitality industry. The business model is convenient for customers as it allows them to sample smaller portions at a time in order to develop their palate. “My customers are able to experiment with different types of wine. They don’t need to purchase a full glass and this allows them to understand what they really like,” said DeVries.
DeVries works with eight distributors that bring in wine from across the world. On average, she estimates that she tastes fifteen to thirty different wines a week, which equates to sampling over 10,000 different wines over the past eight years. Like a scientist, she takes detailed notes of each one, and these notes help make purchasing decisions. She brings in over 500 cases a year.
When the wine enters Della Viti, they are organized for the customer by taste profile. For the consumer, when they find a profile that they enjoy; a California cabernet, for example, a similarly profiled wine is placed in the rack next to it, helping the customer with their next tasting.
“I think our customers enjoy finding out what they like and then they are equipped to branch out and explore.” When they do find the wine they love, a bottle can be purchased and taken home for enjoyment with family and friends.
Through her business, DeVries is always seeking ways to give back to the community that has supported her. Earlier this year, the Iowa Restaurant Association honored DeVries with the Restaurant Neighbor Philanthropy award, an honor that recognizes her charitable giving and volunteering. DeVries has donated wine to the Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Hope Gala, put together gift packages for the annual Boys & Girls Clubs gala, organized 5K charity runs, and regularly offers Della Viti as a meeting location to 100 Women Who Care, a local philanthropy group.
As her business evolved, DeVries has always had the ability to adjust. The pandemic was a prime example of this flexibility when she quickly pivoted to an online retail store. She continually embraces social media trends and has expanded her offerings at Della Viti to include food options. Her next venture will expand her presence on Main Street as she is preparing to open another business.
Della Viti is located at 323 Main Street.
This story is also featured in Issue 01 of Traction, a quarterly publication from the Ames Chamber of Commerce.
For 37 years, Frank Randall was a prominent figure in the Iowa State Athletics Department. Today, he is the owner of The Salon, a full-service hair salon located in the heart of Downtown Ames.
Randall arrived in Ames in 1970 as Iowa State University’s head athletic trainer where he worked with every athletic team. At the time, he had a host of responsibilities that included strength and conditioning testing, gameday treatments, and organizing travel plans. He was a pioneer in athletic injury prevention and helped develop a bilateral knee brace to help reduce injury that continues to be used by many schools. Additionally, Randall helped change the football helmet to a more rounded contour, which disperses the outside force rather than absorbing the force, helping to reduce head injuries.
In 1998, Randall transitioned away from the day-to-day responsibilities of athletic training when he became an assistant athletics director for operations, a title that he held until his retirement in 2007. He is a member of the Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame (2008) and continues to be honored within the athletics department. Each year, the Frank Randall Distinguished Athletic Training Student Award is given to the ISU athletic training student who exemplifies “dedication, work ethic, accountability and excellence in the field of athletic training.”
The transition to The Salon occurred in 2011 after his son, Alan Randall, graduated from cosmetology school. Frank and his wife purchased The Salon where they offer a full range of services that include haircuts and styling for all ages, coloring, and extensions. The Salon currently employs nine individuals including six stylists and three front desk receptionists.
The Salon is a social outlet for Frank, who admittedly does not get involved in the hair styling. His son, Alan, continues to be the creative director of the business, even while working in a salon in Colorado. “I just enjoy being around people because that’s all I’ve ever done.” He has full faith in his staff, including stylist Brandi Mcclish, who graduated from PCI Academy in Ames and started her career with The Salon. “Working at The Salon feels like family. We are all in it together to give our clients our best. We are all focused on the same thing and that just feels good!”
304 Main St.
Ames, Iowa 50010
Phone: (515) 232-2310
About the Ames Chamber
Centrally and conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest and Iowa, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy, flourishing cultural environment, and the world-renowned Iowa State University.
With over 700 members, the Ames Chamber of Commerce strives to make Ames a better place to live, work, and do business by strengthening the economic vitality and the quality of life in the Ames community.