From part-time to VP: The bicycle dream of Claudio Marra

Claudio Marra FSA Vice President

For Claudio Marra, FSA Global Marketing Vice President from Italy, entering the bicycle industry was not only his destiny but a dream come true. When talking about bicycles, Claudio’s face lights up like the country he’s from, full of passion and sunlight. “My childhood dream was to enter the bicycle industry, perhaps because I felt that as long as I entered this industry, I would have a chance to travel freely and meet people around the world.”

Young Claudio’s family is not wealthy and earning a living was a heavy burden. Their home was by the highway, so Claudio often stood by the traffic and sold water to the drivers and passersby to contribute to the family livelihood with this small business. Watching cars driving the distance daily gave Claudio the dream of traveling the world. And the chance to enter into the bicycle industry came from his brother-in-law, who offered him a minor job of cleaning the bicycle factory. Starting from that level, Claudio made a career on his own in the bicycle industry. Still today, he leads FSA global employees in pursuing even more outstanding achievements.

Meeting the right person

Claudio appreciates each encounter

Claudio owes his success to his boss Columbus, who saw Claudio’s potential and his passion for the bicycle industry. “Entering the bicycle industry was the dream I had since I was a teenager. Had he not given me the opportunity and allowed me to show my passion for the industry and realize my ideas, I would not be standing here today. Naturally I would strive to create the maximum profit for the company.” Claudio knows he’s one of the lucky few that met the right person who gave him the best opportunity at the right moment. Everything he has today is the result of the pursuit of his dreams.

It is always difficult to find a good friend in business since it involves so much sensitive interaction. However, Claudio and Velo’s Founder Stella,Ms. Yu Tsai-Yun, hit it off when they first met. They witnessed several changes in the bicycle industry together and have remained good friends after 25 years. When talking about how he first met with Stella, Claudio was still filled with surprise as if a quarter of a century ago was only yesterday. “Stella is a unique woman who has a strong personality and is filled with incredible energy. When I first met Stella, her English proficiency was not so good, yet she was filled with confidence, and stood fearlessly before professional managers from all over the world. She is able to befriend anyone. From the President of the United States to street vendors, her thoughtful customer service makes everyone feel at home, even like a king.”

Claudio stresses that he has witnessed Velo’s flourishing under the guidance of Stella. “I remember I met Stella once in Milan. She shared her dream of crafting Velo as a maker of high end boutique saddles. So, I made arrangements for her to talk to some professional cyclists to understand their needs, such as, a saddle for professional cyclists could not be too soft and needs a certain hardness to meet the need for competition. She listened very carefully. A few weeks later, she brought a revolutionary new product to us!” Claudio laughs as he recalls. The professional attitude and courage of Velo’s team left a strong impression. Velo’s ability to innovate always manages to fulfill the needs of customers, and its resolution to craft the best products also wins the respect of everyone in the industry.

Winning respect in the business requires more than just excellent performance of the products but also the display of character. Stella talked about one time when she was introducing Velo product at the computer section in a bicycle industry tradeshow. Someone was using a computer that she didn’t pay much attention to and continued to communicate with the client. The man at the computer section all of a sudden stood up and startled her and the client. That man was Claudio. What he said next was even more surprising, “You seem as if you’re going to talk about business secrets. Since I’m also in the industry, I think it’d be better that I leave.” The honesty and integrity Claudio displayed were exactly the most precious qualities in the highly competitive business field. When talking about this story, Claudio appears to be shy but earnest, “Honesty is very important, or else you cannot do the job right. I think being able to look a person in the eyes and talk without hiding is the essential criteria when being around people. We are more than just business partners but also friends who work together.”

Electronic bicycles ignite a new trend

New technology and new groups

Looking into the future, the bicycle industry is going through a never before seen change along with the fast development of global technology and environment. “We are in a world of rapid change, and this trend is still going on. Cycling is now a trend, and with the connection of the internet and the downloading of all types of apps, a never before seen integration is happening in the bicycle industry. Consumers constantly share their lives and collect and exchange bicycle products and information with each other through this connection. Electric smart bicycles also bring forth new groups of cyclists. This is a fast connecting, innovating era.” Claudio leads FSA to face this wave, and he believes that Velo will keep growing and stay up with the trends.

Interviewed at Evergreen international hotels Taichung , Oct. 2017.