was found in the small but growing sport of windsurfing where a
strong, reliable roof rack was an indispensable piece of equipment.
This was quickly followed by success in the ski business where Thule’s
Swedish heritage certainly helped the product gain rapid acceptance.
By the mid-eighties
the first major milestone of the company occurred. At this point,
the company sold directly to ski and windsurfing shops but sold
through distributors to address the large and growing bike business.
A risky decision was made to terminate these distributor relationships
and sell direct to retailers through a network of independent sales
representatives. Upon this decision rests much of the company's
market success today.
As the company’s
sales in the bike business grew, so did the competition with another
US rack manufacturer. By the late eighties, Åke and his management
team felt that the US market had changed - roof racks were seen
as almost lifestyle accessories - and customers demanded features
and products different to those available from Thule Sweden where
roof racks where viewed more simply as a car accessory.
From this sprang
the decision that would be the company’s second major milestone.
Åke hired a US engineer and set up a small assembly plant
in Elmsford, NY in order to design and manufacture bike carriers
that would offer the features demanded by the US consumer and compete
effectively with other racks on the market.
From this decision
grew the strategy to design and manufacture products in the USA
for the US market. Since this time, the company has grown rapidly
through product innovation, a commitment to quality and the continuance
of a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Into the year 2000 and beyond,
Thule continues to evolve our products to meet the need of users.