Inside Felt: Meet Brian Wilson, Director of Product Development
Meet Brian Wilson. As Director of Product Development, Brian works closely with his team to see that every bike is spec’d with components and features to best cater each rider, level, and category. From mountain bikes to triathlon race machines and everything in between, Brian works closely with his team to provide every rider with the ultimate bike.
How did you arrive at Felt?
This morning, it was in my ‘77 Fiat Spider. Twenty years ago, [Felt president] Bill Duehring gave me my first big chance when he hired me away from Riteway Products Customer Service and into GT Product Development. When Bill left GT in 1998 to start something new yet undefined, the woman who would soon become my wife and I put our trust in him that this new company would pan out. A few months later, the Felt deal was sealed and the journey began.
Can you explain what you do in 50 words or fewer?
Aside from taking unjustified credit for the great things many very talented people at Felt Bicycles do, I oversee the goings-on between Product Development and the other departments within Felt. I’m also heavily involved in the supply chain, particularly in Asia, helping to ensure Product Management goals are aligned among our assemblers and numerous component suppliers.
What’s your favorite company memory?
In 1999 I vividly remember standing just outside our booth at Eurobike and overhearing a prominent industry figurehead whisper to another, “What the hell is Bill thinking? I’m sorry, but I just do not see this Felt thing working out.” My incisors left deep impressions in my tongue that day.
You’re known to throw out a good pun every chance you get; when did this phenomenon start?
My punitentiary sentence was issued around 8th grade, and word association became a contest among me and my buddies. Not a street sign or license plate was safe. It remains a debilitating disease which often kills meaningful conversations. Just ask my wife.
What was your dream job as a child?
When I was a kid, BMX was all I dreamt about, but bicycles were considered toys (not to mention chick-repellant) and riding them was viewed by most adults as a complete waste of childhood. As a teen, I was brainwashed to believe that, in order to make a real living, a person had no choice but to study uninteresting subjects long and hard to gain the ability to perform mundane tasks in dull offices. The bicycle industry has proven that notion very wrong.
You’re also known around the office for a love of The Smiths. What is it about them?
If The Smiths did not save my life, they sure got me through some tough times. It’s rather cliché to say their music and lyrics are depressing. To me, they could not be more uplifting. It’s a shame some people cannot get beyond face value of a lyric. Maybe that’s where the need for country came from.
As Director of Product Development, you’ve traveled a lot. Where has work taken you that you wouldn’t have traveled to otherwise?
I am fortunate that the bicycle biz has taken me to most of the majors: Germany, Italy, France, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and most importantly, Whistler, Canada. If someone asked me when I was 21 years old what international destinations I would likely reach in my life, I might have answered “Tijuana and if I’m lucky, Cancun.”
What hobbies do you have outside of cycling?
Watching my sons do whatever they are doing. Weekend morning coffee runs with my wife in the Fiat. Dialing in my garage after my boys destroy it.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Quality family time.
What’s your bike of choice?
I feel a Compulsion to answer this question honestly today, so I hereby Decree my position may be changing.
Coffee or Tea?
Not unlike the alphabet, C always comes before T.
Bad decisions are better than no decisions.
Advice for success?