This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the day Nzo opened for business.
More or less.
There is always plenty of wiggle room in discussions about when we got started, because we actually started thinking about something along the lines of Nzo when were wandering around the planet during the early nineties.
We got around to doing something about it in about 1995, when we created a pile of ideas we thought would be good for mountain biking. No real ‘style’ for mountain bikers had evolved at that time, and we thought bike gear with a looser fit than what roadies wore with a range of prints that had nothing to do with bikes was the right approach. We made some samples and kept thinking.
A few years went by, we got busy with other activities, but eventually we decided that the time was right. Circumstances allowed us to relocate to Rotorua. We figured this little town would be a great place to be when mountain biking really took off (it is).
We moved in late 1997. We got the keys to a shop and office around that time, but we couldn’t actually open until we had made a pile of products.
That took until May. It was not that simple: Glen had developed a range of products but we needed more machines, and some people to operate them.
We also needed to design and build a shop.
What we ended up with by the time we opened the doors included the bones of the range we still offer: gear you can live in, that is also good to wear for bike rides.
The other day I went on a group ride with a gang of locals, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. Half of the gathering were wearing Nzo shorts. One of the wearers asked me what got us started on the Nzo project, and I really struggled to explain it.
We were halfway up a long and tricky singletrack climb, which might have had something to do with how difficult it was to provide an answer.
In reality is is hard to recall exactly what we were thinking. For sure, what we were doing before Nzo was a lot simpler. Creating a product and supplying it reliably at a profit turns out to be devilishly complex, and not always even possible.
And yet, we still get a bang out of a new thing that turned out how we had hoped, or a new pile of a trusted and much repeated design that maintains the standards we aim at.
Our sport has grown and changed so much in the Nzo quarter century that it is barely recognisable, but at bedrock it is exactly the same. Having fun on bikes.
And that provides a neat answer to the question about what got us started, and also what keeps us going: we want to help people like you have fun on bikes.